Reading is the most important thing we can do when learning any written languages. Books are vital for when we can’t visit a country and learn the language from native speakers.
Even though I am a native Cantonese speaker and a fluent Mandarin speaker who tries to speak Cantonese to my children all day long, I found that it was almost impossible to teach them to read and write Chinese without any Chinese books. I brought some of my favorite Chinese books from Hong Kong to the States, and I only had a few very simple children’s books that my parents shipped to me. This made it difficult to encourage my children to learn Chinese without any physical resources.
Chinese characters are not easy to learn or memorize because they are like complex pictures with meanings and sounds in each character. It takes a lot of visual input, (e.g. consistent reading, dictation, etc.) to be able to read Chinese. I can’t remember how many books I had to read, memorize, and hand copy, in order to pass all my exams.
I want my children to think knowing Chinese is cool and fun, and I want them to understand that Chinese is also in their blood and heritage. That’s why I created these Chinese resources for my children, and I hope they can help yours as well.
How does it Work?
I am not an expert in early childhood or reading, but I have actual children who are learning English & Chinese right now. My goal is to create a friendly environment at home which will increase their love of the Chinese language and encourage them to learn and understand Chinese culture.
Here is a sample of my theme: SUMMER.
I created two sets of books to go along with my Pre-K/Kindergarten Theme Packs.
CHINESE VOCAB BOOK (生字書):
This is a set of books with simple Chinese vocab and colorful images. These vocab books are for low beginners who are just learning to recognize simple Chinese characters.
This is a set of books with simple Chinese sentences and colorful images for each theme. These mini books are for the children who have learned Chinese for a little while or are capable of and willing to read some simple Chinese sentences.
What can I do with the Vocab Books?
For the low beginners, I suggest going through the Chinese Vocab BooksAfter doing all the activities and readings in their native language, you can slowly introduce the Chinese by using the vocab books. Of course, it will be better to use the same kind of vocabularies in English first and then the Chinese, so your kids will not be too surprised.
For the low beginners, I suggest introducing the theme and vocabulary in your native language first. This is especially important for young learners so they will have the concepts and background knowledge of the theme before you introduce the Chinese language. Once your children are comfortable with them in your native language, you can slowly introduce the same words in Chinese using the Chinese Vocab Book. This will help them to learn the Chinese vocabulary easier.
How can I smoothly transition to the Mini Books?
Patience and repetition are essential in learning anything, and they are especially important when learning a new language. Once you learn new vocabulary, try to use them on daily basis by replacing your native language word with the Chinese word. When I was a Cantonese teacher at the Missionary Training Center in Utah, I would do this with my students. For example, once they learned the word for teacher in Chinese (老師) I encouraged them to use the Chinese word instead of the English word. Instead of saying, “Teacher can you please help me?”, they would say, “老師can you please help me?” Gradually, over time we would replace more English words with Chinese words. I never forbid them from using English in the classroom; rather, I encouraged them to use the Chinese they had learned whenever possible. Even though they were just beginners, they were able to use some Chinese when they were speaking. I don’t agree with no native language rules because the students will get scared or embarrassed, and they might lose interest and motivation to learn the language.
How do the Pre-K/Kindergarten Packs work?
The Pre-K/Kindergarten Packs are designed to go hand-in-hand with the Vocab Books & Mini-Books. According to your children’s situation, you can choose to use the books first, together, or after the packs. You could also let your children decide when and how to use them. There is no right or wrong way to use them.
By learning with interesting visual practice (reading books) and fun physical activities (Theme Packs), your children will enjoy learning Chinese more.