It’s good to hear that you’ve benefited from these videos. I’ll try to keep cranking them out!
As far as making sense of the evolution, I can’t take full credit for that. I developed hunches about what was going on, but I wasn’t confident of my assessments until I had a chance to actually communicate directly with John Pasden about it. He still uses ChinesePod in his language consulting business, and is quite aware of all of the trends. I wish I could pin him down for a whole day and hear everything he could say about learning Chinese!
One of the smartest guys I’ve ever known saw this video on Facebook almost immediately after I posted it, and he gave some surprising feedback. He is over 40 and starting to learn Chinese. He stayed away from ChinesePod because his perception was that it’s random with no structure. This video changed his mind, and he’s going to be passing it on to his son who is now learning Chinese.
I think ChinesePod adding video has certainly been a great asset - it just needs to be refined so that it’s backward-compatible with the “specifications” of the past so that the structure can be retained. It’s not an easy task, but with the right understanding of the original goals and objectives of each level, I certainly think it’s possible. It’s like writing software to be backward-compatible with old versions - software companies out there are doing it every day. But, of course, if you don’t understand what the original software was designed to do, you’re likely to break it.
You make some interesting points about the shift from kinesthetic to visual learning. I’m going to have to give that some thought.
I think I’ve only used Skritter for a total of 30 minutes. I think it’s great, but I’m a die-hard Pleco user with tons of data I’ve entered over the years. I have thousands of custom dictionary entries, and the flashcard database says I’ve done over 219,000 repetitions! I used to use Pleco’s “Lyrics Reader” to open the ChinesePod lessons, which enabled me to read along and quickly add words to my flashcard lists. Last I checked, this was an iOS-only feature; it didn’t work on Android.
Which brings us to dictionaries: I’ve never actually used a paper dictionary until this year. I’ve purchased quite a few dictionaries from within Pleco, but I recently picked up a copy of the 5000 Graded Words for New HSK (Level 6):
Levels 1, 2, & 3
Levels 4 and 5
I’ve not used the lower level dictionaries, but that level 6 dictionary is terrific. It’s all in Chinese, but it does two things we foreigners need:
- Emphasizes examples instead of definitions
Grades the language of those definitions and examples down to HSK-appropriate vocabulary
Native-language dictionaries are notorious for taking simple words and making them complicated. This is great for native speakers, but horrible for foreign learners. This dictionary doesn’t do that. Highly recommended if you can get one.