Students working

Chinese LearnLab

Runs up to 5 studies/year with a maximum of 100 students per study. Consists of 6 sections with a total of 100 students

Course Chair:
Sue-Mei Wu
Department of Modern Language
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3891
Phone: 412-268-5949
Email:

View the milestones and steps necessary to set up a study in the Chinese Learnlab.

The Chinese LearnLab serves two purposes:

  1. Help beginning students of Chinese develop communicative competence in the four basic skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing the Chinese Language, as well as competence in Chinese culture.
  2. Function as the Chinese LearnLab, generating rich and copious data on student learning to aid in both the instructor’s assessment and nurturing of the learner and in experimenters’ endeavors to study issues of robust learning.

An online course will differ from a traditional classroom course in several unique ways. It will offer the flexibility to meet individual student needs, for example, the different needs of a true beginner versus a heritage learner. It will also allow the instructor to apply feedback from student interaction with the system in order to fine tune his/her assessment of student needs in order to optimize individual learning. Finally, experimenters will have access to increased measures of student learning through online activities, homework, exams, and pronunciation records. As part of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning (PSLC) community, the Chinese LearnLab anticipates benefiting from experiment-driven course improvements down the road. Core instruction will remain the primary responsibility of the Chinese LearnLab. (Sue-mei Wu, Christopher Jones)


PSLC Chinese Learnlab Course - Instructional Objectives

(by Sue-mei Wu,updated 10/3/05)


The PSLC Chinese LearnLab course is a Chinese language course for beginners. It aims at helping students to develop communicative competence in the four basic skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing the Chinese language. Pinyin (the most-widely used Chinese phonetic system) will be taught as a tool to learn the spoken language. Students will also learn Chinese characters in order to be able to communicate effectively in real Chinese situations. Approximately 500 words and expressions in both Pinyin and character forms will be taught. While linguistic aspects of the Chinese language are the primary focus, introduction to the social and cultural background of the language will also form an important part of the course.

The Knowledge Components that students will learn in the course are organized around the 5 Cs principles of the National Standards for Foreign Language Education for the 21st Century - Communication, Cultures, Comparisons, Connections and Communities:

  • Communication: Students will be able to use the Chinese vocabulary, grammar points and expressions they have learned to engage in real life communicative tasks utilizing the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. They will be comfortable in scenarios related to individual, family, and school activities as well as wider social occasions and societal contact.
  • Cultures: Students will gain competence in Chinese culture and know how to perform their Chinese appropriately in a Chinese environment.
  • Connections: Students will begin to acquire information about distinctly Chinese viewpoints as well as connect to other disciplines through Chinese, such as connecting to literature through an introduction to Chinese poetry.
  • Comparisons: Students will be able to make comparisons between languages and cultures, an exercise which will help them become more aware of their own language and culture and more tolerant of the cultural differences inherent in diverse socio-cultural contexts
  • Communities: students are able to use Chinese to participate in communities both within and beyond the school setting.

The Knowledge Components that students will learn for each unit are described as follows:

Unit 1 Foundation: Pinyin & Basic greetings

  • Introduction to Chinese sound system (Pinyin foundations)
  • Basic greetings

Unit 2 Greetings

  • simple greetings,
  • simple flow to ask and respond to a Yes/No question
  • first time to know each other

Unit 3 Names

  • Ask about names
  • find out who someone is
  • ask and respond to a simple inquiry

Unit 4 Nationality and languages

  • introduce people
  • talk about nationality and languages
  • talk about others

Unit 5 Talk about study

  • talk about majors in school
  • talk about what do you like to study
  • find out what someone has

Unit 6 Talk about yourself and family

  • self- introduction
  • talk about family and their occupations
  • what you want to be in the future

Unit 7 Make phone calls

  • handle various phone situations
  • ask and tell what someone is doing
  • make and respond to a plan

Unit 8 Talk about daily schedule

  • describe the daily schedule
  • talk about your school life

Unit 9 Make and accept an invitation

  • talk about course schedule for the new semester
  • talk about ages and birthday
  • extend and accept an invitation

Unit 10 Make and respond to requests and inquires

  • make and reply to a request
  • express one's wishes, obligations, capabilities, possibilities or permissions

Unit 11 Order food at a restaurant

  • order food at a restaurant
  • present and choose from alternatives
  • ask what someone wants
  • tell someone what you want

Unit 12 Go shopping

  • Go shopping
  • talk about price, money and currency
  • Choose size, style and color
  • ask and provide opinions

Unit 13 Show people around

  • describe where something is located
  • show people around
  • ask and reply about the location of things

Unit 14 Talk about hobbies and sports

  • talk about hobbies and exercises
  • Describe how well an action is performed

Unit 15 Describe the weather and seasons

  • talk about the four seasons and weather
  • describe means of transportation
  • talk about travel plans

Unit 16 Go to see a doctor

  • describe the symptoms of an illness
  • describe something that has happened

Unit 17 Find and rent an apartment

  • rent an apartment
  • indicate the direction of a movement
  • describe an event and its cause

Unit 18 Describe Current situation & talk about future plans

  • describe your current situation
  • talk about plans
  • express blessings and wishes
  • exchange e-mails

Exercises and Assessment:

Module exercises: Exercises will be an integral part of the Chinese LearnLab course. Each module will include listening comprehension, character and vocabulary exercises (e.g. character stroke writing animation, radical practice, stroke order practice, comparison of similar components), grammar exercises, reading comprehension exercises, short answer questions, guided essay writing, summaries, situational translations, and communicative task exercises.

Tests: Each module will have a test. Test format will be very similar to module exercises and include similar tasks.