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Frequently Asked Questions

If you cannot find an answer to your question, click here to jump to the Contact Us form at the bottom of the page.

General Questions

Technical Questions

Professional Edition

School Edition

Kid's Edition

Traveler Edition


General FAQ

Technical Questions

Professional Edition

School Edition

Kid's Edition

Traveler Edition

 

General Questions

 

How difficult is it to learn Chinese?

We bet everyone has told you how difficult Chinese is. The fact is: learning a language, ANY language, is hard. If you're going to go through all that work anyways you might as well be able to tell people that "you speak Chinese". In fact, we don't think learning Chinese is much worse than learning German or French (and it sounds so much cooler). Chinese has no tense, no subject-verb agreement and no gender. Learning to read the characters is difficult, but Pin Yin is no harder than learning to read any western language and the characters have roots that repeat. The thing that makes Chinese seem so difficult for Westerners is just that it's so different from any language that we know, but that's the beauty of it! Learning Chinese is challenging but it's also one of the most rewarding learning experiences you'll ever have. You'll never know until you try!

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What is the ActiveChinese Methodology?

The ActiveChinese Methodology combines a dynamic approach to foreign language acquisition with the latest multimedia technology.  ActiveChinese promotes an immersive methodology, motivating students to plunge into the material, greatly increasing students’ confidence and individuality in the learning process while greatly reducing teachers’ workloads.

Instead of focusing on grammar comprehension and pronunciation correctness which tend to be tedious and in the Chinese language context often daunting, we emphasize building up communication skills right from the outset. In a much shorter period of time, students will be able to use the language as they move along. Confidence build-up and relevance in use are essential in foreign language acquisition.

In addition, dialogues following a storyline instead of non-related passages open up students’ imagination which help retain students’ interest. Relatively shorter and simpler structures will also help students memorize the contents, further strengthening the communication confidence and relevance in use. Flash-animation technology in that regard stands out over DV technology in achieving that goal because it offers more room for creation.

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What are the unique features of the ActiveChinese program?

ActiveChinese’s program contains three central features that distinguish it from other Chinese language programs:

Multi-Sensory Multimedia

ActiveChinese products use multimedia to reach today’s technology-savvy students, who expect a sensory learning experience as well as entertainment.  Interactive animated flash lessons are engaging and fun, but accomplish serious learning objectives. There are multiple speeds for video, audio, and text presentations in each lesson, so the student can both hear and read Chinese at a pace that allows absorption of new material.  The incremental building approach creates a strong, positive feedback loop that reinforces previous lessons as well.

Educational Experts

ActiveChinese worked closely with education curriculum design experts to develop instructional and multi-sensory learning techniques that connect students to the geography, arts, culture and people of China, while teaching them to converse in Mandarin.  ActiveChinese lessons are theme based, with real-life situations and encounters used to teach dialogue, grammar, and vocabulary.  Each lesson contains learning points of grammar, as well as culture points that highlight differences between English and Chinese.

21st Century Curriculum

The curriculum is a result of a collaboration of experienced Chinese educators in both the US and China. The curriculum and methodology is tailor made for students from the English speaking world and takes into account their different learning styles and characteristics. The content is similar to accepted curriculums now in use in Chinese programs in the US, so there is no radical change in grammar and vocabulary, but the ActiveChinese curriculum is supported by an extensive variety of innovative resources for teachers of the 21st century.

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What are the flash animated lessons like?

ActiveChinese's curriculum is based around interactive flash animated lessons. In each lesson, you will see situational dialogues based on daily themes between two or three characters. Each dialogue has three modes. The first mode is at normal conversational speed without English translation or Pinyin in order to cultivate your listening capability in a real life situation. The second mode is a slow-pace mode with English explanation by the virtual tutor - word by word, and sentence by sentence - so that you will grasp the meanings and new words in the dialogue. The last mode of the dialogue is an interactive mouse-over mode, where you can listen and record your own pronunciation and compare with the standard recording. You also have the option of turning the Pinyin or English translation (English subtitles) on or off.
After the dialogue, you will see the language points where the virtual tutor will explain the cultural and language points relating to the dialogue. You will be surprised to see that the Chinese language is easier than English in many respects. In addition, from the tutorial you will also learn many interesting facts about Chinese culture.

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After I sign up, will I have immediate access to the online lessons?

Yes, if you are a trial user, you will have immediate access to our trial lessons.  If you are a paying customer, once your payment is cleared, you will have immediate access to the lessons in your package.

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How long will it take the CD and books to arrive?

Depending on the location of your shipping address, the CDs should take approximately 7-14 business days to arrive if you choose standard shipping and 2-3 business days to arrive if you choose express shipping.  Please refer to our shipping policy here (embed link here) for more information

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What payment methods does ActiveChinese accept?

Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and Amex
PayPal
Company or School Purchase Order: please click here to contact ActiveChinese to initiate the process.
Other payment methods: please click here.

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What is ActiveChinese's refund and cancellation policy?

If the customer purchases Active Chinese's online tutor intensive course and is for any reason unsatisfied with the product, Active Chinese's refund policy is as follows:

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Technical Questions

 

What kind of computer and software do I need to access ActiveChinese's virtual online classes?

Platform: PC (Windows XP, NT, 2000, 98), or Mac (OS X or later).
Browser: IE 5.5, 6.0, Firefox 1.0
Display: 800x600 minimum, 1024x768 preferred, with 32-bit color depth.
Connection: Broadband (cable modem, DSL, or LAN).
Plug-ins: Macromedia Flash 7.0 or later.
Audio: Speakers.
Settings: Browser must have cookies and JavaScript enabled and pop-up blocker disabled for www.activechinese.com; machine must have audio and microphone enabled.
Voice over IP software: We suggest you have a Skype (www.skype.com) account for working with our tutors in real-time.

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I'm having issues logging in; what should I do?

If you are unable to log in with your email/username and password, we've identified the most common issues below. If you are still unable to log in after trying the following, please contact our customer support here

1) Have you entered the email and password correctly according to the information you inputted when you signed up or if you are a student, the information your teacher gave you?
Remember that your teacher may have assigned you a special email address and password so please double check with her and keep the email address and password written down. Also, remember that the password entry field is case sensitive so be careful when inputting lower case and upper case letters in the password field

2) Are cookies enabled on your internet browser?
Are you using Firefox?
1- Go to "tools- options"
2- Go to "privacy"
3- Click "enable cookies"
4- Check how long you want to enable cookies for
5- Click OK
6- Try logging in again
Are you using Internet Explorer?
1- Go to "tools- options"
2- Go to "privacy"
3- Make sure you can accept cookies
4- Check how long you want to enable cookies for
5- Click OK
6- Try logging in again

3) Have you chosen the correct ActiveChinese edition from the dropdown menu?
Please make sure that you have selected the correct edition, either Professional, School, or Kids from the dropdown menu next to "Edition" on the Registered Users LOGIN page. If you choose the wrong edition, the system will not allow you to login. If you are a student using ActiveChinese for your Chinese class, please notify the teacher for information regarding which edition you will be using.

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What should I do if I cannot play the lesson?

* Make sure that you have installed the Flash player. Our website should prompt you when you click on the lesson. Please follow the prompts. Or you can download the Flash Player at www.adobe.com .
* Pop-ups should be disabled on your internet browser.
Firefox: Tools->Options->Content (tab). Click the appropriate boxes for pop-up settings.
Explorer: Tools--> Internet Options-->Select Privacy (tab) --> Popup Blocker (un-check the checkbox).
* If you have Yahoo! Toolbar, it also might disable pop-ups. Make sure pop-ups for www.activechinese.com are allowed.
* For anti-spyware programs, such as Spyware Doctor: Uncheck "Block Pop-up. "You must also press and hold the CTRL key while clicking on the links to the lesson or other pop-up associated links.

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How can I input Chinese characters?

If you are using Windows you can use the IME (input method editors) software. If you don't have IME set up already and don't have Office XP, you may need a little bit of initial setup. The Microsoft help page can take you though the process step by step: 
Click Here .   
Once you have the IME software installed, typing is quite easy. The following site provides a great tutorial on typing in Chinese using Microsoft IME. 
Click Here   
If you have a standard Mac OS installation of anything later than 10.1 you have everything you need for Chinese and a ton of other languages. No need to install anything. Just go to System Preferences > International and activate a Chinese input method. Notice that now you'll have two input methods active, your original one (English or whatever your first language is and Chinese). As soon as more than one input method is active you will see them show up in the menu bar under their respective country flags. You can easily switch between your active input methods through the flag menu or with Cmd-Space. (The Command/Cmd key is the one with the little Apple on it. )

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What should I do if the Chinese characters are too small?

Firefox internet browser can make them bigger (ctrl +). Firefox is available here.    Internet Explorer can also adjust text size. Please look under "view".

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When I use the recording feature, I can't hear the playback with my voice.

Make sure the recording and playback levels are high enough on your computer and that "mute” is off. Also, make sure that your speakers/mic/headset are working and properly connected.
Go to "start", "control panel", "sounds and audio devices". Click "volume” and adjust the volume. Click the "audio” tab to configure your "sound playback” and "sound recording". Adjust the volume accordingly.

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How do I download MP3 and MP4 files to my computer?

1.On the "Today” page, please go to "My Lesson Plan"
2.On the "My Lesson Plan” page, click on the MP3 or MP4 file you would like to download
3.Click "Save to disk” and then "Ok"
4.When the download is complete, it should appear on your desktop
5.If it is an MP3 file, play the file with your desired audio player i.e. iTunes
6.If it is an MP4 file, play the file with your desired media player i.e. Windows Media Player

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What media player should I use to play MP4 files?

iTunes, VLC Player, Windows Media Player Classic, QuickTime, among others.

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Can I burn MP3 and MP4 files onto a blank CD?

Yes, you can copy the MP3 and MP4 files onto a blank CD. After you have downloaded the files to your desktop, drag them into Windows Media Player Version 10. Only Version 10 has the new "burn” feature. If you have an older version of WMP, you will need to update it to version 10 in order to have this function. Click on the "burn” button on the Windows Media Player menu and make sure you have a blank CD in the CD-rom drive.

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Professional Edition

 


Who is the Professional Edition designed for?

The Professional Edition is designed for those seeking to gain the Chinese language skills that are directly applicable to day-to-day living as well as doing business in a Chinese environment.

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How will the Professional Edition help me do business in China and/or with Chinese people?

Here at ActiveChinese, we believe that lasting relationships begin by saying the right thing, particularly in China. We strive to create a learning environment in which you will be able to gain insights into the Chinese cultural sensitivities and business practices that will help you form relationships and conduct business. Our program is based on a simple concept: using unique teaching innovations and the flexibility of mobile learning to allow you to study functional Chinese anywhere and anytime.

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What courses can I buy for the ActiveChinese Professional Edition and what are my purchasing options for each course?

ActiveChinese has flexible options for you to choose from. We offer four different courses, from absolute beginner to intermediate. For more details about the details of each course, please visit here: 
http://www.activechinese.com/choosePackage.jsp
For each course, you have the option of purchasing an integrated tutoring package, which comes with either 10,20, or 30 hours of professional instruction from our tutors in Shanghai, or a self-study course.    

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How do I cancel and/or reschedule my tutoring session?

On your Today page, you will see a section entitled "Live Tutor: Next Scheduled Call. Please click "change” and then indicate on the following form whether you would like to cancel or reschedule. If you would like to reschedule, please indicate your desired time and your tutor will respond within 24 hours.

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Will I lose my session with my tutor if I cancel and/or reschedule?

As long as you cancel or reschedule within 24 hours of the appointed time, your session will not be lost. If you do not cancel within 24 hours of the appointed time, your session will be lost.

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How can I communicate with my tutor online?

There are two ways you can have an online tutoring session with your instructor. The first is to use an online communication tool. These include Skype, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, and Google Talk. The second method is to use a landline or mobile phone. The tutor will call the number you give her at the appointed time so that you will not have to incur the cost of an outgoing call.

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What is Skype and how do I use it to talk to my tutor?

Skype is a program that allows you to have a "telephone conversation” with another Skype user over the internet for free. We use this for you to talk to your live tutor. To get a free account simply go to Skype  www.skype.com and follow the "sign up” directions.

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What do I need to do to get ready right before my tutoring session?

Before the tutoring session, please make sure you:
*have a headset and sound card on your computer if using Skype or another online communication program and have logged in with the proper ID
*are able to accept calls and have a free line if using a mobile phone or landline
*are logged onto the ActiveChinese website

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School Edition

 

Should the School Edition only be used by teachers and their students?

The primary goal we had in mind in developing the School Edition was to allow teachers to effectively use a multimedia platform in the Chinese language classroom. However, we've also had students use the School Edition in the home as an extracurricular study tool. If parents are interested in having their son/daughter learn Chinese and their school doesn't happen to have a program open just yet, the School Edition is a great way to get them started.

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Who designed the curriculum for the School Edition?

The curriculum was a result of a collaboration of experienced Chinese educators in both the US and China. The curriculum and methodology is tailor made for students from the English speaking world and takes into account their different learning styles and characteristics. The content, i.e. language points, vocabulary, and grammar, was adopted from already accepted curriculums being used in Chinese programs in the US. Our curriculum is supported with an extensive variety of innovative resources for the teachers and students of the 21st century.

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What are the advantages of the School Edition compared to other multimedia Chinese learning programs for students at this age level?

Here at ActiveChinese, we strive to go above and beyond traditional methods of language learning.  Our curriculum revolves around situational dialogues based on everyday occurrences.  Instead of focusing on grammar comprehension and pronunciation correctness which tend to be tedious and in the Chinese language context often daunting, we emphasize building up communication skills right from the outset. In a much shorter period of time, students will be able to use the language as they move along.

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Do you offer site licenses for schools and how does it work?

Yes, we do offer site licenses for schools.  A site license works by purchasing a certain number of “seats” for a school.  The seats may be allocated to individual students or to a computer station in a computer lab.  For the latter, the teacher will not be able to utilize our tracking feature for multiple students using one “seat” and the user fee will be higher for “seats” in a computer lab.

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What is the difference between CD and online?

The CD version and the online version provide the same lessons and courseware; the main difference is that the online version provides a tracking function to help the teachers monitor the progress of their students. 
In the online version, the following extras are provided:
1) a teacher’s book that provides answers to the workbook exercises and written tests. 
2) a teaching plan to help the teacher break down every lesson according to a one week teaching schedule
3) a teacher’s PowerPoint to introduce each lesson’s dialogue and new language points in class
4) written tests for every 5 lessons to assess student progress and performance
5) a flash card and “personal vocabulary” function for students to use to memorize new vocabulary and focus on more difficult words
6) a dictionary function with both simplified and traditional characters

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Do you offer textbooks and workbooks for the School Edition

Yes, we offer textbooks for the School Edition 100 Series, Parts 1 and 2, and
200 Series, Parts 1 and 2.  Downloadable workbooks in Word format are available with your online account.

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How can I teach School Edition material in an actual classroom?

We’ve designed a series of questions below to help you answer this question.  If you have any other questions or concerns not addressed here, please feel free to contact us

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How long will it take me to teach the School Edition 100 Series?

It will take approximately 150 instructions hours to finish the 100 series, depending on the frequency and the pace in the classroom, it is a full 1 year teaching program.

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Is there a general teaching plan for how to teach each lesson?

Yes, there is a general teaching plan that can be applied to every lesson.  It breaks up each lesson into 5 hours and explains what material you can expect to cover in each hour.  The general teaching plan is available under “Teacher Resources” after you log-in to your teacher’s account.

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What additional resources does ActiveChinese provide to teachers?

ActiveChinese provides several resources that will help teachers implement our courseware in their classroom and really save time on preparation.  These include:

Multimedia Presentation
We will provide you with a multimedia PowerPoint presentation that you may use to explain each lesson's dialogue with still shots. We also provide the language and culture points on the PPT in addition to additional exercises. The PPT is customizable so if you would like to include additional examples of grammar points, feel free or if you don't like the examples we have used, you have the freedom to change it according to your teaching style.

Textbook, workbook and teacher’s book
In addition to the PPT slides, we will also provide you with a downloadable textbook (physical textbook also available) and workbook for use in and out of the classroom. The textbook contains each lesson's dialogue with English and Chinese (both Pinyin and Hanzi) translation, culture points, language points, and new words list. The workbook contains exercises to reinforce and review the language taught in each lesson, including the standard character writing format. The teacher's book contains answers to the workbook exercises in addition to assessment tests.

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How can I assess and track my student's learning progress?

A student tracking function is provided for all teachers who use the ActiveChinese School Edition at their school. This feature allows you to manager your class by viewing how much time students spend on each lesson and which sections of the lesson they are viewing. You may also see their performance on each lesson's assessment test.

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Can I exchange ideas with other teachers using the School Edition in their classroom?

Absolutely! We want you to be a success using the School Edition in your class and we know that communication with other teachers is crucial in exchanging ideas and finding new activities to supplement our curriculum. This is why we have a teacher's discussion group for you to enter and communicate with teachers around the world also using the School Edition in their classrooms.

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Kid's Edition

 

What are the flash animated lessons like?

The Kids Edition follows an adventure story of a young boy, and it is divided into 12 units, each unit representing one Zodiac animal of the Chinese Lunar Calendar.  Each unit is divided into 3 lessons.  Our lessons are then split into a teaching portion, 2 drills and 2 games for the children to practice.

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Should the Kids Edition only be used by teachers and their students?

The primary goal we had in mind in developing the Kids Edition was to allow teachers to effectively use a multimedia platform in the Chinese language classroom. However, we've also had students use the Kids Edition in the home as an extracurricular study tool. If parents are interested in having their son/daughter learn Chinese and their school doesn't happen to have a program open just yet, the Kids Edition is a great way to get them started.

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Who designed the curriculum for the Kids Edition?

The curriculum was a result of a collaboration of experienced Chinese educators in both the US and China. The curriculum and methodology is tailor made for students from the English speaking world and takes into account their different learning styles and characteristics. The content, i.e. language points, vocabulary, and grammar, was adopted from already accepted curriculums being used in Chinese programs in the US. Our curriculum is supported with an extensive variety of innovative resources for the teachers and students of the 21st century.

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What are the advantages of the Kid's Edition compared to other multimedia Chinese learning programs for students at this age level?

Here at ActiveChinese, we strive to go above and beyond traditional methods of language learning.  The Kid’s Edition integrates several innovative features guaranteed to captivate young learners and spark their interest in the Chinese language.  In addition, the lessons follow a storyline with a set plot, characters, and setting.  As the students progress through each lesson, they are following the main character’s adventure for friendship and treasure.  The ActiveChinese Kid’s Edition is the only program available that combines a comprehensive curriculum for young learners of the Chinese language with high quality graphics and an interactive multimedia platform for language acquisition. 

Furthermore, another unique advantage to the Kid’s Edition is the interactive drills and games that appear at the end of every lesson.  These games reinforce the language taught in each lesson and engage young learners to enjoy their studies.  Each game is scored according to how well the student can complete them as a motivational tool to actively internalize the teaching points. We encourage children to enjoy learning Chinese and these games will give them an opportunity to both study a challenging language and have fun in the process.

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Do you offer site licenses for schools and how does it work?

Yes, we do offer site licenses for schools.  A site license works by purchasing a certain number of “seats” for a school.  The seats may be allocated to individual students or to a computer station in a computer lab.  For the latter, the teacher will not be able to utilize our tracking feature for multiple students using one “seat” and the user fee will be higher for “seats” in a computer lab.

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Do you offer textbooks and workbooks for the Kid's Edition?

We currently have a downloadable and printable textbook and workbook in PDF format for the Kid’s Edition.  We will be offering physical textbooks for the Kid’s Edition sometime in the Fall 2008.

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How can I teach Kid's Edition in an actual classroom?

We’ve designed a series of questions below to help you answer this question.  If you have any other questions or concerns not addressed here, please feel free to contact us (link to AC contact us)

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How long will it take me to teach the Kids Edition?

It will take approximately 160 instructions hours to teach the kids edition.

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What other resources are available?

We provide a downloadable textbook, workbook, culture points covering popular Chinese legends, and a vocabulary list accessible to both teachers and students.  We also supply teachers with answer keys for each unit test.

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How can I assess and track my children or students' learning progress?

A tracking function is provided for the parent or the teachers who use the ActiveChinese Kids Edition. This feature allows you to manage your children or student by viewing how much time they spend on each lesson and which sections of the lesson they are viewing. You may also see their performance on each lesson's assessment test.

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How do I change the password for children / student account to the ActiveChinese Kids Edition?

In ActiveChinese¡¯s Kids Edition, a parent or teacher can create multiple children or student accounts depending on the number of licenses which they have purchased. These children / student accounts do not need to register an email address with ActiveChinese and their accounts are dependent on the parent / teacher¡¯s account. If the children or student forgets his / her password, he / she will not be able to use the ¡°Forget Password¡± link in our log in page to get a new password. The teacher or parent will need to either, tell the children / student what their original password was or if the teacher / parent did not make a record of the password originally, then he / she will need to change the password to a new one. The instructions on how to change the password are below:

  1. Teacher or Parent log in to ActiveChinese with their teacher / parent accounts at this address: http://www.activechinese.com/login.jsp.
  2. After log in, you will see on the left hand side column a box named "My Account(s)", please click on "Add/Edit Kids".
  3. In the Add/Edit Kids page, you will find a list of kids / students registered under your account. Click on the name of the children / student who needs a password change.
  4. You will see the name of the children / student appear in the Edit Kid form.
  5. Type in a new password and then click "Edit". The new password is now saved in our system.

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Traveler Edition

 

Who is the Traveler Edition designed for?

The ActiveChinese Traveler Edition CD is tailored for first time travelers to China.  It is suitable for both leisure tourists as well as those traveling for business purposes.

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How will the Traveler Edition help me while I'm traveling in China?

The CD's contents will familiarize you with the basic language skills you will need during your travels as well as the cultural sensitivities inherent in East Asia.

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What topics are covered?

The flash animated lessons cover a wide range of practical situations, from looking for a restroom and bargaining in Chinese to handling an emergency. The listener can even handover their iPod to a Chinese person nearby to make clear what he or she is looking for.

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What are the purchasing options for the Traveler Edition?

The Traveler Edition is currently only available in CD-Rom format for Windows OS.

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Does the CD come with anything material besides the flash-animated lessons?

Yes, the CD comes with additional multimedia resources, including PDF lesson transcripts, MP3 listening exercises, 30 of the most common phrases easily downloadable to an iPod or other portable device, and Seasons 1-4 of the ActiveChinese Culture Shocker Series.

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