Saturday, March 7, 2015

Informal Chinese Lessons

We haven't plunged into really teaching Chinese as a formal school subject. With this past year being our first year of homeschooling, I didn't want to overwhelm myself (and I certainly WAS overwhelmed!) with yet another subject to teach during the day.

But I DID want my children to learn some Chinese. Even the local public elementary schools teach Mandarin, I didn't want my half-Chinese kids to end up behind the public school kids' Chinese!

So we've been working on about 15 minutes per day of Chinese (usually done during afternoon snack), rotating among a variety of learning activities including:
  • Kids Learn Mandarin by Fingerprint -  iPad game app- colors, animals, professions, food, etc. (We also use other apps listed in my spreadsheet, but we like Kids Learn Mandarin the best).
  • Mandarin Language Lessons by Yangyang Cheng - Grammar, conversation
  • Tone Practice 
  • YouTube videos of stories narrated in Chinese 
  • General conversation in everyday life- I'll ask a question in Chinese like "Do you want to eat a banana or an apple?" and they answer in Chinese, or when we're about to go out, I'll state in Chinese, "We are going to xyz's house". And we just practice a variety of phrases that they've learned. 
Since my husband doesn't speak Chinese, the kids don't get the benefit of hearing Chinese in the background and absorbing it, the way I did growing up. I always have grand intentions of just speaking to them throughout the day in Chinese so they hear it and get used to the sound and pick up some meaning through context, but, admittedly, I'm pretty forgetful about this!

After the realization that Monkey is a visual learner and would probably easily memorize the pictoral Chinese characters,  I'm going to start teaching him how to recognize and write some words, using some workbooks we have at home that show some simple words and some of the iPad apps  that focus on writing. 

The disadvantage of these informal lessons is that there is no tracking of what we have accomplished. At this point, I guess it's OK, we are not formally studying it, but just trying to give them a feel for the language. 

As a note to myself though, for future reference, here's an attempt to list what we have covered:
  • Hello, Goodbye, Thank You, Excuse Me
  • What's your name?
  • Verbs - be, go, carry, want, have, come, sleep, sit, eat, take, like, know
  • Nouns - colors, relatives, animals, fruit, kitchenware items, professions
  • Pronouns
  • Possessive
  • Other - today, tomorrow, or 
  • Question words - What, How many, Who, Where
  • Time