As we start getting into the harder level Chinese, more subject vocabularies, and thinking about grammar, I keep coming back to the need to use our audio resources better. Everytime I read to Thumper, and we encounter words I think she shouldn’t have been exposed to, she tells me she has because of the TV she’s watched or what she’s listened to. Having that prep work done already made it easier to introduce reading and writing. By prep work I mean, she knows how to speak the language and understands (listening) the language. Since Chinese is not the dominant language in this country, it is a more time efficient way for us to learn the language through listening than studying it through a textbook.
With that in mind, I’ve finally started pulling out more of the audio resources I have saved in my Evernote. Here are some of them:
- The Children-Can-Listen Encyclopedia – Best Thing Ever. For anything we’re learning, I try to have the kids listen to it in the car. The encyclopedia is really just DK encyclopedia translated. But they add a fun factor by having a 2 adults and 2 children interact and explain vocabulary as they go along. I find that I myself remember the vocabulary more when I hear it used in speech than reading text. We’ve learned about money, Australia, worms, Solar System, vaccines, poisonous animals, micros (Thumper’s fascination). Speaking of micros, here is a prime example of something they’re obviously not going to study until they’re way older. But just like how the children are exposed to this vocabulary in English now through our daily interactions with them, this encyclopedia provides the exposure I can’t provide day to day.
- The Children-Can-Listen Chinese History – When I pulled this out for Thumper at age 5+, she was not interested, the vocabulary was too hard for her. However, at 7, she loves the stories! It’s still quite advanced in terms of vocabulary, but I guess she understands enough to be interested in the story itself. As usual they add the 2 adults and 2 children to explain things as they go along. Interestingly enough, though Astroboy loses interest eventually and probably can’t understand this at all, he doesn’t complain about it. From what I’ve read, parents have kids listen to this in Taiwan in pre-school level even though they may not understand it. They can move on to the book version (The Children-Can-Read Chinese History) when they get older. There is also another history audio set called 吳姐姐說故事, but that is for upper elementary or junior high.
- 聽廣播啦2 – Thumper had been listening to English pop songs when her father drives. One day she said, “I like Tailor Swift!” With her limited amount of exposure time to English pop, I realized I need to add the Chinese in ASAP! I had been putting it off and putting it off till now. This app has hundreds of radio stations in Taiwan, and actually all over the world as well. I try to pull it out when we’re doing house chores and in the morning before we start school. Taiwan’s radio scene is funky to me. Often a station will just play a mix of English and Chinese songs. I just usually browse around until I find something I like. I’ve favorited a few: E-Classical 臺北愛樂, anything from 中廣 (ex.中廣流行網） as that’s kind of like BCC. What I’m looking for, and haven’t found, is shows similar to Radio Lab or NRP’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. It’s cool listening to the commercials and daily news in the morning. I think those provide the more useful Chinese.
- 喜馬來亞 –
I have not really used this though I have found SO MANY Chinese audiobooks this way. Apparently China has a much better developed podcast culture. You can search a specific book title or just do things like 兒童 and you’ll get many people reading stories to their kids. Many of those are quite professional sounding. For example, you can get Magic Treehouse and Harry Potter (哈利波特), etc. The reason I don’t use this is that it requires an Internet Connection, some more research, and the children can’t pull it up themselves.
- Podcasts through iTunes –
I searched and found through iTunes a ton of podcasts as well. We’ve listened to these. The good thing about podcasts is that you can download and listen when you have time, especially when you drive. You can search for “寫給孩子的世界歷史”， “品德生活列車”，“寵壞你的耳朵”，“寶寶總動員“. Honestly the only thing we’ve listened to is “全家生活FUN!”, a podcast run by a Chinese minister who talks about his family’s life here in the U.S. I liked the show because they’re talking about things the kids would know, like going to Disneyland or Las Vegas. But it can be boring sometimes because it isn’t a story. The others I’ve downloaded and never listened to. I really dislike moral stories and many podcasts are full of these. 秋木叔叔講故事 seems to be promising.
And then there are all the CDs that come with our books. So many now a days come with bilingual CD. I especially like “I like Martine” series and the sets from 信誼 (寶寶閱讀列車，幼幼閱讀列車), and lastly, we can’t forget Ciao Hu 巧虎. That is the best out of the bunch at all levels. They have stories, songs, subject matter studies, all at the right appropriate level for the children.
I’ve got a ton more, but as I stated in info overload, I don’t use most of my collected material. So I’m trying to just focus on one or two at a time and not be so greedy. Otherwise sometimes I’m not sure how to fit it all in.