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our way of making revision fun

Even though I didn’t really do a lot of Chinese homeschool stuff with the girl during the last 2 months (because of the baby and confinement, work etc), I would still make sure that we go through our Chinese words list at least once a week so that she has *no chance* to forget. 😛

Of course, plain revision can be really boring. Not only for her, but for me too! *yawn* So, to make revision fun, I came up with an interactive story-telling game. First, we will line up all the word cards (those that she knows) on the floor together. Then, we will brainstorm a bit to come up with a topic for us (or me actually) to create a silly/magical/scary story together.

Since I’m the one who make up the story (so it is never the same each time we do it), I get to choose the words I want to use in my story. Being a kiasu mother, of course I would try to cover all the words on the floor as I go along with my story. 🙂 Anyway, this is how I do it…

For example, if I want to use the ”牛, 飞, 树” cards, I will try to make my story go something like this:

被弟弟的尖叫声吓坏了, 竟然上了!!”

Then I would pause whenever I mention a word that is on the floor and she will have to pick the right card to pass to me before I can continue with my story. By the time I finish my story, we would have revised over 100+ words in one session.

Well, I must say this method of revision is not really that simple and can be quite time consuming, but it works for the girl. The best part about this method is that it is a “stress-free” kind of revision. And because the girl sees this as a “story-telling game” and not a revision, she totally enjoys it.

lesson : 石地

学习目标: 认读石和地

Activity 1:
I drew some pictures to demonstrate the meaning of the words and where they could be used. (For “地” 字, I just drew the things we could find on the ground “地”.) the girl was to repeat the words to me after each picture was drawn. We then colored the pictures together. At this point, I don’t expect her to memorize the new words. I find my child learns best when not being forced.

Activity 2:

After a day or 2, I would start to revise the new words with the girl on the whiteboard. I would incorporate the new words into simple sentences, and ask her to read them to me. If she can’t recognize the words on the whiteboard, I will ask her to find the pictures we did a few days ago and try to recall what the word is. Usually she will come back with the right answer and we will continue with the revision again. I find this a easy method to help her to recognize the words. And she gets to revise the other words that she has previously learnt too. 🙂

how she picks up Mandarin

For Hsin…

We actually didn’t speak any Mandarin to Nikita until she turned 16 months old. The reason being that Nikita was a high need baby and we wanted her to know how to express her needs to us as early as possible. We were afraid that speaking to her in two very different languages might make her confused and we would have problems in understanding her too.

By 16 month old, she could express herself really well so I started to teach her some simple Mandarin – like Chinese names of the body parts, fruits and clothing etc but the progress was really slow. I was still speaking to her in English mostly because I thought it would be overwhelming for her if I suddenly switch to speak to her in some “alien” language. The first few weeks of learning were really slow because she had no interest in the language and her concentration was really lacking. So, I had to change my strategy. I noticed that she picked up things faster and would give me her concentration during our 30-45mins of bedtime “chat”. So I used that time to teach her the Chinese names of her body parts, her name, bed, pillow, blanket (and anything that I could teach her in the dark) etc and sing her Chinese songs, while lying down on the bed with her.

I know Nikita loves animals and doodling. So, I began to draw animals for her and teach her the names of each animal in Chinese. She learnt faster through the drawings. Because children learn faster through visual aids, I put up all the drawings that we drew together on the walls and whenever I have the opportunity, I would name an animal for her to point out to me. She loves this pointing game and felt very happy whenever she got it right. I think this game actually makes her feel more confident and interested in the language.

Since young, Nikita has always enjoyed music. So, I began to sing a lot of new Chinese songs to her. But singing alone is not enough, so I found some Chinese websites for some songs with flash animations. I would watch the flash videos and sing along with her. Once she is familiar with the songs, I printed out the materials and pasted them on the wall. That way, she could relate to the songs without the need to watch the flash video. Sometimes, I would do silly dance or movements with her when we are singing too. P

Although watching too much TV programs is not good for children, but that is the easiest way for them to pick up any language. So, I began to watch some Chinese cartoons with Nikita. Of course, she would not understand when she first watches the program, so I had to explain to her. By the second or third time, she had no problem in understanding the story anymore and hence that was when she started to pick up the spoken language portion, and not just names of objects. So, I 打铁乘热, took the opportunity to speak more Mandarin to her and encourages her to speak more Mandarin to me too.

When I noticed that she has no problems in understanding me when I speak to her in Mandarin, I decided that it was time for me to start reading Chinese storybooks to her. I find that if I always choose the simple board book to read to her, she has absolutely no interest in them and it would also make learning so boring. So, I pick those books that have a storyline like the Chinese version of Little Red Riding Hood etc. Now, she loves the Chinese storybooks as much as the English ones.

That’s pretty much what I did to make Nikita interested in learning Chinese. I know every child is different in terms of learning so you have to find the right approach for your child. Just remember that a child will only learn faster if she is interested, so you should try to make learning fun for her. )