Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Learning Chinese at Home (Part 1)

Roundup on our Chinese homeschooling activities. 

With little Chip, we have been doing plenty of reading, discussion and learning activities that work on his listening comprehension, vocabulary, word recognition and reading fluency.

Unlike English, I have purposely not introduced any writing activities for Chinese, not even for simple characters. The only writing he does at home is the one-page homework he gets weekly from kindergarten. We have plenty of time to pick up the writing when he is in K2 next year. 

I also don't use assessment books with him because being good at worksheets doesn't make a child good at the language, especially at this level. It may give us the comfort to see something concrete that the kid can 'achieve', but for now, I would much rather he spends the time somewhere else. 

Like reading aloud with me. :> 


Or play word games. 

Besides these wonderful Chinese readers which introduce 400 words... 

.... we are also spending time on a few other sets of books that aren't considered readers. 

I read the sets repeatedly over a period of time, with a few additional ones slotted in from time to time just for variety. I find the repetition a good way for the kids to internalize the sentence structures effectively. As they aren't readers, they are written in more interesting style and introduce a wide range of content that is great for discussion purposes. 

Besides reading, there are many other different types of activities that I've also incorporated into our weekly learning sessions using a variety of resources which I already own and have used on M before.

While I am big on word recognition activities, I am not an advocate of playing games after games and be dependent on attractive teaching resources to accomplish this task. They may get the kid interested to some extent, but it isn't necessarily the best approach. Yes, learning should be fun, but kids should still be capable to learn when learning isn't as fun as they like it to be. After all, there will always be times later when learning is tedious and requires a lot of effort from the child, so it can't always be that fun. The ability to focus and absorb what's taught is an acquired skill, as much as an attitude. The child who isn't dependent on attractive materials and fun games to be able to learn effectively is a child who will thrive under any learning conditions. This is always one of  my ultimate goals, so it is no different when it comes to learning Chinese at home.

I also measure progress differently from some. Learning to read a huge number of words, or even knowing how to read words at P1/P2 level now doesn't mean the child is able to master the P1/P2 level work. Word recognition is only one part of the learning process. Like my emphasis on the English language when the kids were smaller, for Mandarin, I rejoice more when Chip shows improvement in his ability to form more complicated sentence structures, ask more complex questions and hold a longer conversation and discussion with me in proper Mandarin.

Another area of focus is good enunciation, without which one cannot be considered good at the language. Thankfully, this is an area which he is very strong at, definitely stronger than M when he was this age. Chip's enunciation is sharp and almost as perfect as it should be.  

In addition to these basic activities, for every lapbook that he makes in my lapbooking classes, I also include an extensive range of thematic activities in the Chinese language that we work on at home. However, we are not covering as much or moving as fast in this area as I like to. We already have a backlog to catch up, simply because he is completing lapbooks faster than I can follow-up at home. As he is working on the lapbooks with my classes, there is a lapbooking curriculum that I've planned and followed, hence we can complete a very comprehensive lapbook every few weeks. But with the Chinese follow-up activities at home, our progress is often sidetracked by many other factors. 

....... to be continued.... 


Joanie said...

Could you share how you do lapbooking for both English and Chinese? How do you find so much time to look up the resources since it looks like u cook and don't have a helper? How to make learning interesting for a kid? Coz like you I'm having no. 3 but find my first 2 not doing much at home with me. Do drop me a mail meien79@yahoo.com.sg.

Domesticgoddess said...

Joanie and the others who have left comments with email addresses for me to reply to, sorry to disappoint but I will not be able to reply your emails one by one.

Since the lapbooking classes are still ongoing, it is not appropriate to share how I do the lapbooks. You can see sample lapbooks from our From Tiny Acrons website though.

But I can point out that our lapbooking process is UNLIKE the ones that you typically see in many blogs or those free resources. And the way our lapbooks are done is not like scrapbooking. The key to effective teaching and hence learning lies in the kind of activities introduced, how they are introduced and taught and how the lessons are faciliated that made our lapbooking process effective.

Domesticgoddess said...

Joanie, I do cook and don't have a helper. Like I explained in my previous reply to your last comment on another blog post, I just find a little time here and there in my daily routine to do what is needed.

It also helps that I have been practising what I preach (i.e. the transdisciplinary thematic method) for a few years now and I know very clearly what kind of lessons I am going to plan, what types of resources I need without having to look for inspirations from other websites or blogs or books.

Very often, I ended up designing my own lesson materials because what is available on the NET are, more often than not, inadequate or simply not good enough, in my humble opinion, to deliver the kind of lessons I want to deliver, be it to my kids or students.

Anonymous said...

Hi, may i know where can i get those chinese words card? (In RED).


Domesticgoddess said...

Anon, I got them a few years back at a book store in Suntec City. There are approx 100 cards with each set of readers. I haven't seen them anywhere else though.

Anonymous said...

Will you be having chinese lapbooking classes as well?

Joanie said...

Sorry haven't time to be following your blog. Wow I must say you are very good at organising your time. Do you have holiday classes for trial? Coz currently time is just so packed as a working mom to find time to bring them even for extra classes. Btw, is ur class venue opposite united square?

Anonymous said...

May I know where you got those chinese books (which introduce words) from?


Domesticgoddess said...

Anon, I bought them from a bookshop in Suntec back in 2006. Not sure if it is still around though but it was where the ELC used to be.

Domesticgoddess said...

Joanie, my classes are conducted at Goldhill Centre, which is opposite United Square. For more details on class schedule and holiday programme, please visit http://www.from-tiny-acorns.com

Wendy said...

I think the readers are from a Malaysia publisher.
I think popular should have them.

I have the first 100 word book set under this series but did not know they have flashcards etc until I read your blog haha.

What sort of games can be played with the flashcards? Asking them to identify the correct card for the new word introduced on that page?

Flashing of cards is not effective on Amanda. I have flashed cards when she was very young for a period of time but to no effect.

Evander Choo said...

Hi Shirley, may i find out where you got the wonderful Chinese readers that features 2 school children on the covers (one of the titles is 《上学校》)from please? I'm thinking they might interest my children!

Domesticgoddess said...

Hi Evander, these readers are from odonatabooks. There are 4 levels, each covering approx 100 new words. Level 1 to 3 are suitable for kindergarten level. Level 4 is suitable for K2 and Primary 1, but my boys finished them by mid K2.

The series that I told you about in the lapbooking class this morning is a different one and more suitable for Primary school kids. Sorry I thought you were referring to that primary school series (which I also shared in a different blog post) which I bought from school during the book fair.

For your older boys, I will not recommend this 《上学校》 series. It may be more fun for Franklin.


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