Thursday, April 02, 2009

学华语

I have been brought up in the era of the "Speak Mandarin" campaign... and when the first speak mandarin campaign started, my parents were one of those "early adopters" to ditch all speaking of the chinese dialects.

Hence I grew up in a mandarin speaking environment (completely), from watching Channel 8, to listening to the chinese radio stations to reading chinese newspapers and even reading chinese novels during and throughout my school days... using mandarin and reading chinese was just part of me throughout my childhood...

But, I wonder what had happened when I started to have my own kids... I am embarrass to say that my kids know no mandarin nor read chinese at all. Even when I attempt to make them repeat after some words that I say it came out sounding like a foreigner trying to speak mandarin... sigh...

I am then on a desperate quest to make my kids learn the language or at least be soaked in an environment that is filled with the language. They are afterall chinese and I take it personally that it's a disgrace when we as chinese do not know our mother-tongue.

I guess, much of this problem was due to my attitude towards the language as well. It occured to me that I put very little emphasis in making my kids learn the language. Take a look at my bookshelves and it'll speak volumes of what's my attitude towards the language.While I speak mandarin to my parents, I did not make it a point to speak the language to my children. Thus now, even my parents had to be forced to communicate with my kids in English...how sad can that get?

Anyways, that's not my main sharing of this blog post. With that as a basis, I am determined to introduce the language to my children just as I had introduced the English language to them. Through read-aloud and making an effort to describe things around them in chinese. Try to build an interest in the language in them...work on simple hands-on activities and games through literature (just like what I did with Tim using the BFIAR materials).

After reading Angie's sharing on how they learn chinese at home, plus my sharing of my concern with a few good mommy friends (such as Ade & Joyce) and after my friend Evelyn shared some chinese books she's recently purchased, it just drives me harder to want to guide my children into learning the language. Here are some of the chinese books we have at home to start the kids with -

WORD RECOGNITION -
First hundred words by Odonata Publishing was introduced to me by a fellow blogging mom. I recently started Tim and Little Missy with the 拍球 book. I read it as I bounce a ball telling them what the action of bouncing the ball is in mandarin. After repeating a few times, the 2 kids got it. Not a bad start I feel after the first round of reading. Though their pronounciation part takes more practice to sound right.

This series of 9 books + an audio CD + a box of flashcards of the 100 words was quite a low cost investment. This could be easily obtained at the Popular Bookstore.
This is another word recognition series I thought was not too bad. I like the chinese nursery rhymes from these books they are fun and simple and all words come with 汉语拼音. It even comes with a teacher's guide on how the book could be delivered in a fun way.

This series comes in different levels and the levels are colour coded from the easiest level being coded in red, and the advance level coded in blue. It's by the Commercial Press publishing. This too was bought from the Popular Bookstore.

READ ALOUDs -
幸福的种子 comes in a bookcase of 30 read aloud books, with a summary of the story, a guide and activities at the back of each book. This was a recommended series that I was introduced to by a very kind mainland chinese lady who is also the supplier of this series of books (in fact she's also a supplier to most of the chinese children's books that Maha Yuyi carries albeit at a slightly lower cost - she offers free delivery service).

I haven't gone through all the 30 books myself, but I've randomly picked out a few to go through and thought the stories were rather fun and cute. The illustrations were quite good too. I am a sucker for books with guide on how to deliver a fun and proper lesson to the child...

It appears that this is quite a popular series that quite a lot of homeschoolers are using.
小熊宝宝绘本 came in a series of 15 books. Translated from Japanese; is a very cute series with some very basic chinese words that could be introduced to kids of age 1+. Tim and Little Missy seems to enjoy this for the time being. 噼里啪啦 is a step more advance than the former that I've just shared. This series comes with 7 books and are by the same author. I love these books too they are really very fun.

While the 我爸爸 and 我妈妈 are translated from English books. I took a fancy in these 2 books because I fell in love with the illustrations and the story is really very heart warming. These were the very first read aloud books I've introduced to Tim.

I picked up a few translated Dinosaurs books at Maha Yuyi quite a while ago, these came in really useful lately as Tim was in a dino craze :) I've discovered that using books with theme/topics that are of interest to my kids are more acceptable during read aloud.
The other recommended read aloud series is the 我真棒. This series teaches children about values and virtues and each book comes with a teacher's guide and activities at the back too.

Elmer the elephant, might be familiar to some of you. I got a few of the chinese translated Elmer books. A little lengthy therefore a little challenging to keep Tim and Little Missy still while I read these books. Will save it for later perhaps.

Another series I got from Maha Yuyi previously on values and virtues - 宝宝成长学习绘本. These books are written and published in China. It comes with a summary of the story, and guide for parents to discuss the moral of the story with the children.
This is by far my FAVOURITE series of translated chinese books. These four books sparks imagination and the illustrations are beautiful! It's certainly great fun reading them together with my 2 kids. Especially for Tim. He could relate quite well to these books and was able to sit through the entire book with focused attention :)
比尔熊 is a bilingual series of books with very simple words and colourful illustration. Not one that I'd consider as living books but can be read for fun and learn some new nouns.
Here are 2 chinese fairy tales I've bought from the Popular Bookstore. It's packed with short stories (most stories are 1-2 pages only) and seems quite easy to create simple activities that ties in with the story to work with the kids. Stories come with 汉语拼音 and cute illustrations.

RESOURCES -
This is a chinese thematic dictionary. I like it that it has themes and relevant words revolving around the theme. Each theme comes with a poem, question and answer that the teacher/parent could prompt the kids to describe what they have learnt base on the theme. Got this from the Popular bookstore too.
Lastly, this tongue twister poem book that comes with an audio CD. Haven't tried it on the kids yet, but I like the tongue twisting poems they are actually quite fun to read... with the rhyming words and all... *smile*... this is also available in the Popular bookstore.

I don't know how far or how this journey to learning the chinese language will turn out to be. But I suppose done on a more regular basis with added efforts of speaking the language more consistently to the kids, we should be able to head somewhere *cross fingers and toes*...more importantly, my attitude towards the language must be more positive and that's the hard part that I need to work on.

16 comments:

Angie said...

加油!!很高兴读到你付出那么多心力教孩子母语!

Grace S said...

Hi! Thanks for sharing about the books. Now i am interested to check them out for my 17-month old too! can i ask for the contact of the lady supplier of the books?

Thanks so much!

Bless you!

mamabliss said...

Hi Grace, would it be possible for you to give me your email address, I'll send the contact details of the book supplier to you via email. Many thanks!

mamabliss said...

嗨Angie, 谢谢你的鼓励,我还有许多向你学习的地方请你多指教。:)

Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing, very useful as I have been looking out for good chinese books for K. Don't want K to struggle w the chinese language like how I did in school.

levine said...

hi mamabliss, u not considering Wo Hui Du? Personally, i dont prefer books with HYPY as a guide below as many of my students rely heavily on those to read. If u getting Wo hui du, don forget to check more with me ya as im selling in my store and can read up more at www.studioij.com ya!

stardust said...

Hi I am in the same situation as you. I thought of speaking Mandarin to Vince on a more regular basis but my Mandarin is weaker, then I thought of replacing the words e.g. he asked me what is this - octopus puzzle, etc I do not know in English the they would be in a bad mix? How ah?

jean said...

Hmm...after reading this post, I think I need to work harder too on Grace's chinese... thanks for the reminder!

温馨小屋 said...

哇!你买了很多绘本哦!而且还都是很好的绘本,真得很值得推荐...

我家的孩子很爱看绘本,每晚睡前都会看1或2本。我最近买了不少英文的绘本,因为我刚好跟你相反,我孩子的华语很流利,英文就没办法了!谁叫我这个做妈咪的英文不好。哈哈!

byihui said...

hi, are these the chinese books u were talking abt in your email? right now, i m thinking of getting big chinese books as i saw these during a recent trial with berries. (yes, i was almost quite desperate that my daughter still tells me she wants me to speak english to her although she is perfectly capable of understanding me and replying in mandarin) but i find that wat the berries teachers do is not very different from her cc teachers so i decided to save the money n make more effort to speak the language to her.

but, i did "siam" (peek) whole rows of big chinese books with large fonts and bright vibrant pictures that really attracted Jodie to them like bees to honey. thinking whether those bookstores at bras basah carry these books. seem like published in msia. if u know of any sources, let me know ya? thanks :)

Joyce Long said...

Wah..that is a lot...Well done pauline..you have give me lots of inspiration on guiding yr kids mandrain...

Rose said...

I am not chinese educated but we watched Chinese drama at home since young. So we can speak and understand, not read. Now my gal is like me, speak mostly English!

Hope she catches up with Chinese once she started the lessson in school next year. That time, i will learn together with her. :p

shuey said...

Hi, chance upon your blog, it's great to learn that you wanna teach your kids Chinese.

I came from Chinese speaking family and started blogging partly to improve my English and also to keep memories for my son. :)

Now my problem is to teach him English as all people around him speak mandarin often. :D

pc said...

you really have huge range of books for kids.

if im not mistaken, some cartoons in playhouse disney are dual-languages, ie Pooh and friends in mandarin as well.

Bonnie said...

I think for kids, it easier to expose them with different language when they are young hor. Good luck on the journey.. And my you really had a huge collections of books!

crazymommy said...

Hi Pauline, could you send me the contact too? We are making a trip back to Sg this June and hopefully I can get some good books for Nikita. Thanks in advance!

By the way, I have blogged about how Nikita picked up Chinese when she was just a toddler years ago, which I think may interest you...

http://crazymommy.weblogs.us/2006/02/25/how-she-picks-up-mandarin/