Immersive Learning In A Digital Environment

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, AC Study Abroad programs were held virtually during Summer 2020.

Reasons for Learning

Why are you learning Chinese? How long have you been studying? So your Chinese must be very good! Oh… very cool!

If you are learning a foreign language or have learned one (congrats btw!), you will often encounter these types of questions. Likewise, if you ask someone these questions, you will almost always hear a different response. The reasons range from learning about their heritage, potential business and/or politics applications, “encouragement” from parents, interest in media, general utility of the language, and many more!

I had little exposure to Chinese language and culture before college. I initially started learning Chinese because I thought the culture was different from mine and the language sounded very melodic to me. I continue learning because I learned to appreciate Chinese Culture, made meaningful connections with friends and instructors, and hope it will be valuable in my career.

Initial Impressions

Honestly, learning a foreign language can be difficult. Couple that with remote intensive learning, and it is even more challenging. Nonetheless, the instructors, classmates, and staff are exceptional. From Day 1, instructors and staff showed students the resources available to succeed in the program as well as recommended strategies. Having participated in remote classes before due to Covid-19, the format of the classes was not unfamiliar.

Milestones

Week 1

Honestly this was my most challenging week. I spent most of my days studying. I was spending copious amounts of time learning vocabulary. My language study methods needed improvement.

Week 2

This week went a lot smoother. I found I didn’t need to rely on translation services as much as week 1 when learning material, but I was still spending a lot of time studying.

Week 3

By the end of this week, I had finally found my groove. I was able to learn the entire week’s vocabulary in under 2 hours! (down from several more) I also found myself talking more in class, and asking a lot more questions!

Week 4

This has been the most intense week so far given we had a midterm and midterm presentation on top of regular week’s work. Overall, I did well. It was great to see all the progress I made so far. I felt very comfortable talking in Chinese, asking questions, and understood nearly everything said in class.

Week 5

Of all the weeks, I probably spent the least amount of time studying this week and learned the most amount of content. I feel like I got a good grasp of the material and how to learn it effectively.

Week 6+

Stay tuned!

Tips for Avoiding Burnout

I found doing these things helped me concentrate, avoid burnout, and get more out of the program.

Exercise

There’s a saying I like: “do yoga 20 minutes every day, on the days you don’t have time, do 40 minutes.”

Ask Questions

You will probably hear this the most, and that’s for a reason. Asking questions on things you’re even mildly unsure of will help reinforce your learning. Plus, I often find myself getting into tangents and learning additional material because of this.

Walk Around

This has been monumental for me. Due to Covid-19 and classes, I don’t go outside as often. I find going on walks helps me declutter my mind and count my blessings.

Create a Safe Space

I like to clean up my workspace, make tea, and play some soft jazz to help me get in the mood for a study session.

Have Fun

Yes, language learning can be difficult, but it is so much fun! Don’t forget why you are learning, and don’t forget to occasionally reflect on all the progress and memories made so far.

Stay Connected with Friends

Be it through messages, calls, or online gaming. Staying connected can help fight feelings of being overwhelmed. I particularly enjoy playing midnight werewolf and scribbio online with friends.

Impact

Participating in TISLP has been amazing so far. I have learned A LOT of Chinese and learned a significant amount about Taiwanese culture. I am excited for these last couple of weeks. While it is difficult for a remote learning experience to equate that of an immersive program, I have found this program very rewarding.

By: Marco Rivera

Program: Taiwan Intensive Summer Language Program

Term: Summer 2020

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