Distance Learning for K-12 Chinese Curriculum in the U.S.

These past few days, I've seen quite a few commercials for distance learning in the U.S. through Kaplan University. In this digital age, it seems as if distance education is quickly growing in popularity around the globe. Although I still personally believe there will always be value in learning in the classroom, I understand why people will reach out to alternatives such as distance education. Maybe it is limited time and money or other constraints, whatever the reasons may be, one should not be hindered from education when there is a will to learn. I got to thinking about distance learning beyond post-secondary education for adults. In response to some of the issues that James brought up in previous posts, I started thinking about elementary and secondary Chinese education here in the U.S. With the economy in the poor state that it is now, will schools explore other opportunities such as distance learning for their students? Of course, the structure of distance education will have to be fitted to the students' appropriate age. (It goes without saying that an adult pursuing post-secondary education in Chinese for Business is very different from a teenager in Chinese 1 at the high school level). However, with limited budgets and lack of teachers and staff, it would be great shame to see schools cut down their Mandarin Chinese programs when there may be alternatives out there for students to further Chinese learning in this digital age. There seems to be a lot of Chinese distance learning programs out there. A simple googling of "learn Chinese online" populates a handful of options, but it doesn't seem as if these programs are appropriate for the K-12 realm. Most of the online learning sites focus on adults and self-starters/self-motivators. Do you know of any online learning sites for Chinese that caters to the needs of secondary school students? Do you think there is a need for schools in the U.S. to start exploring innovative alternative options to help their students learn Chinese beyond the classroom?


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