I’ve long been a fan of ChinesePod.com, a site that offers free mp3 podcasts for learning Mandarin. Having used various aspects of the site for nearly the entire time I’ve been in China, it was with a lot of interest that I read the company being mentioned in the New York frigin Times!
In my line of work, I tend to see a LOT of Internet start-ups with grand ambitions quickly fade into nothing, so to me it’s cool to see a business that’s not only flourishing, but being recognized for what it is – a leader in melding technology with cutting-edge learning practices.
The NYT article comes on the heals of another big announcement for the biz. Praxis Language, ChinesePod’s parent company, has been selected by the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (NOCFL, also known as the Hanban) to develop the Online Confucius Institute (source):
At present, 180 Confucius Institutes operate in 50 countries with independent websites and promotional activities. With today’s agreement, however, Praxis Language will develop an official Online Confucius Institute to help unify their activities. It will act as a centralized repository for NOCFL and Praxis Language learning materials, such as ChinesePod. It will also offer students, teachers and institutions up-to-date information on developments in the burgeoning Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (TCFL) industry. In addition, new social networking features will enable individuals/groups to integrate digital learning materials into their studies. Teachers of Chinese around the world will have the tools to share, connect, and collaborate, thus aiding the development of the TCFL. Praxis Language CEO Hank Horkoff says the collaboration, “will make Chinese learning significantly easier by taking advantage of the best tools of the social web.”
Praxis certainly deserves all the success. The ChinesePod method, combining standard language learning with the dynamic world of Web 2.0 (podcasts, blogs, comments, communities, VoIP, etc.), is quickly becoming the standard by which other “… as a Foreign Language” institutions will be graded.
And Praxis hasn’t stopped with just spreading Chinese to the masses, they’ve also hit the world’s #2 most spoken language with the relatively newly released SpanishPod.com.