Thursday, April 14, 2016

Learning Chinese as a Visual vs Auditory Learner

I've known Monkey is a visual learner for a while, and I've been slowly introducing Chinese to the kids for a while...but it wasn't until recently that my dad made an observation that prompted me to change the direction of how I teach my kids Chinese.  What my dad said was, "Oh, then he must be pretty good at remembering Chinese characters!" Well, up until that point, I hadn't even bothered to teach them any of the written characters, because I just figured I'd speak and they'd pick up on words, the same way babies learn language-they don't learn to read until they know how to speak and make connections from the written word to a language they already can understand, and I'd eventually move on to reading/writing after they could converse.

Anyhow, I went ahead and started adding Chinese writing about once a week and reviewing it each week, and what I found is that Monkey really does remember how to "read" the words, however, he can't remember how to say those words in Chinese! So if he "reads" the Chinese, he tells me what it means in English, not what it says in Chinese.  Bunny, on the other hand, who is more of an auditory learner, can remember how to say a lot of phrases and words we've worked on, but can't remember how to recognize or write the words! So, I guess the challenge ahead is to find a way to keep going with the skills that each are good at, but at the same time, not to lose the other child who isn't grasping it as easily.

Many years ago, I had 2 cousins who visited Taiwan together. One could speak the Chinese fairly well, but couldn't read, and the other could read(in the same way Monkey can-he could read and know the English equivalent), but couldn't speak. I thought it was so strange, yet so perfect, that they could travel together and get around with each having half the knowledge of the language! Anyway, I suppose I could just teach each child the skill they are most comfortable with, but I would really like them to be able to both speak and read.