By DriveupLife 2 Comments
My Chinese Coach is a language game for the Nintendo DS, released sometime in 2008 by Ubisoft. There are a number of other games like it, MySpanish, Frenc h,
The contains 10,000 words that are learned across 1000 lessons. You learn 10 words a lesson, and each following lesson is only unlocked by demonstrated proficiency in the ten words from each preceding lesson. You earn "mastery points" by choosing correct answers in games that contain the words you're trying to learn, mostly in their simplified Chinese character form. Once you have earned enough mastery points in all 10 words of a lesson, you have "mastered" them by the games standards and you may move on to the next lesson.
The first 100 lessons of the game are guided by a virtual instructor who speaks about and gives context to the lesson topic; i.e. "colors", "days of the week", "pronouns", "out on a stroll", "not feeling well", "vegetables" are the names of just a few of the first one hundred lessons.
The importance of this point is that once you have completed the first 100 lessons, the remaining 900 lessons simply have no context; each lesson from 101 to 1000 is just a mixture of 10 words and a few phrases packed within each lesson, and to complete these lessons you must continue to play games, review character flash cards, draw characters, and other activities to gain mastery points and unlock each additional lesson. The downside? Once you have completed, lesson 104 for example, you cannot go back to it; you simply move on to lesson 105 with no way of returning. Lessons 1 though 100 come with a "map" so you can choose to revisit those lessons if you wish.
Now, the real purpose of this blog is to determine not "IF" this game can be integrated into a serious language learner's repertoire of learning tools, but "HOW" it can.
First off, there are a number of reference materials in the duly named "reference" section that are fantastic. The dictionary contains the full 10,000 words contained in the games lessons and can be referred to at any time regardless of what lesson you are currently working on. There is also a phrase book that contains all of the phrases in each lesson and works the same way as the dictionary; anything can be viewed at any time. This makes having the game in your DS handy while on a trip to China or any country or area in question that speaks and reads simplified Mandarin.
Now, I've been re evaluating my learning materials as of late, and with the addition of My Chinese Coach I am now at a point where I must effectively decide what is valuable in each material in terms of learning the language, not reference. I'm 50% through Rosetta Stone Mandarin, utilize the Michel Thomas Audio courses and have less than two hours remaining in the foundation mandarin course, I practice VIS ED Mandarin Flash cards, I use (rarely) my "First 100 Simplified characters" writing practice book, and I am tutored twice weekly by a native speaker at my university. I also have numerous audio courses (some requiring a text) that I have downloaded and haven't even looked at yet, probably won't for a good long while.
Here is how I work through Material, in these different areas where I use a different set of learning materials:
HOME - This is when I use Rosetta Stone, it has served me very well so far but I have taken a 1 month hiatus from using the software to develop my speaking ability with Michel Thomas Method. I'm returning to RS in a few more days.
COMMUTE - During my trips to school and back I'm going to be utilizing Michel Thomas, an audio only course; perfectly suited for use in traffic and or working out to a lesser extent. Michel Thomas method is a speaking only method of learning that utilizes technique to get students to form sentences on their own after guided instruction on proper usage of words and grammar mechanics. Highly reccomended for anyone completely new to a language.
ON THE GO/ AWAY FROM COMPUTER- This is where I would like My Chinese Coach to fit into my learning plan. The materials that I have that can be used away from a quiet home environment i.e. in a library, waiting in line, eating lunch etc. are my writing practice book, my flashcards, and any audio + workbook programs that I buy in the future. My Chinese Coach fits well in this area because it is fairly well equipped in functionality for a pick up and play style of learning, i.e. twenty minutes here, ten minutes there.
In the end, learning a language is all about sticking with it and using diverse methods of learning and different types of material that fit your lifestyle. I believe that My Chinese Coach has a lot to offer even though there are a few flaws along with it. It is not a primary learning material, it should only be used as auxillary to a Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone or Fluenz type product to enhance your learning of the language you choose.
Thanks for reading, good luck to all those language learners out there!