Hone your Putonghua skills on the Net

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 July, 2006, 12:00am

A web-based multimedia Putonghua course has been launched by the City University (CityU) for primary and secondary school students.

The course is the direct application of CityU's groundbreaking computer-aided Putonghua self-learning software, which uses tone graph technology to enhance a learner's pronunciation.

The course and the software were developed by Sze Mei, a lecturer at the department of Chinese, translation and linguistics.

The tonic graph software enables learners to compare their spoken Putonghua with that of their teacher by studying visual tone graphs displayed on a screen.

The graphs present a visual rendition of spoken Putonghua, allowing students and teachers to compare their tones.

The software is the first of its kind used in learning the language in Chinese-speaking communities.

'The tone graphs help explain pronunciation problems experienced by students,' said Ms Sze, a veteran Putonghua teacher.

'They are particularly useful for helping Cantonese-speaking learners produce accurate tones.'

She said the aim of the course is to encourage teenagers to learn the language outside the classroom and to share CityU's language teaching expertise with the public.

'The course helps strengthen students' knowledge of the Putonghua phonology system and stimulate interest in learning through a variety of multimedia interactive exercises, such as read-and-sing, reciting poems, matching Pinyin and tongue twisters,' Ms Sze said.

'Students can use the tone graphs throughout the course, while scores and number of exercises completed are recorded for assessment purposes.'

Ms Sze was granted funding by CityU in 2004 and 2005 to develop the software, and later received support from the Education and Manpower Bureau to expand it to a Web-based course.

It will be further developed into a Web-based talking dictionary which will offer visual feedback on the students' oral skills, according to CityU.

The course is now available at http://pvjct.emb.hkedcity.net/

Those interested need to apply for a user account from CityU's technology transfer office.

Details are on the website.