Going Oral

Saturday morning was our first production meeting for a planned series of podcasts, in partnership with Quick Chat Productions. Marco Polo Project is going oral! Each month, we plan to release one podcast with a selection of three texts from the Marco Polo Project website, in Chinese and English. My friend Nghi – founder of Quick Chat – first suggested the project, and it’s now starting, with the voices of Chantal Leptos and Yixuan Xu for the first batch.

Making podcasts will have three benefits for us.

It will open up a new audience. Some people enjoy listening to stories or essays in the form of podcasts as they walk, ride or drive. They will now be able to listen to contemporary Chinese voices, in translation.

It will make our contents more accessible. People with vision impediments, or who find reading online a strain on their eyes, will now be able to access the contents we provide in a format accessible to them.

It will increase our appeal to language learners, by allowing them to train both their listening and reading skills, in various ways. Many learners of Mandarin are foreigners who lived or live in China. Their listening and speaking skills are generally quite good, but they have poor reading skills. The Chinese podcast will allow them to ‘translate as they listen’, and train their translation/interpreting skills, or at least keep up their Mandarin in an active way. It will also allow them to match sound with character – using the original text as transcript – and therefore improve their reading capability. For Chinese speakers, these podcasts will allow them to improve their English listening skills, using the Chinese original as subtitles.

Month by month, we will build up a library of podcasts, and make them available on our website – building up a precious corpus for learners and teachers to use.

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