Category: Mandarin

Video: 生活裡的科學 Science Around Us

Age: 6.5 & 9.5 (Suitable for Kindergarten+)

For recommendations on other books/videos/audios, I’ve indexed them all under the Chinese Books Page.

We’re making our own sourdough starter and tonight the kids watched an episode from Science Around Us 生活裡的科學 to give them some of the vocabulary they are encountering.   Though it turned out that’s not what the episode is about, I was reminded just how great this series is for elementary kids.  I need to let them watch this after we’re done with 甜心格格 Sweetheart Princess.

Science Around Us 生活裡的科學 is a series put out by Daai TV, owned by Tzuchi Foundation, a Buddhist organization based in Taiwan.  But the series is secular.  This is the description on their website:

Science around Us is a children’s program that solves the mysteries behind all sorts of phenomena in people’s everyday life.

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Using Line to Help Learn Zhuyin and Reading

We’ve been doing a remedial zhuyin class for Astroboy for the last few weeks.  He really needed a review because he just doesn’t know his tones and tends to pronounce things wrong.   I know the problem is that I did not spend a very long time teaching him zhuyin well before I left him to read on his own.

But before I go on, let me vent a little on how people traditionally teach zhuyin.  They spell to children,  馬 ㄇㄚ 馬, when it really should be   馬 ㄇ ㄚˇ 馬.  I’m not immune to this.  It’s how I learned zhuyin and how I unconsciously said it to my kids.    It drives me nuts because you’re not teaching kids, right off the bat, to hear the ending tones.

What happened after the initial teaching is, I drop the ball on finishing teaching zhuyin, Astroboy went to reading and he semi succeeded since he can sometimes guess words from context and the characters he already can read, until he can’t when the book is too high a level.

So maybe I have no one to blame but myself.   Except I think this is a very common problem amongst people I know who learn Sagebooks first, then zhuyin, then move on to reading very quickly due to the desire to learn to read ASAP.

In any case, now that Thumper can read, the next step for us is composition.  However, since she doesn’t know how to write many characters, I thought I should let her review her zhuyin a bit first.

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Video: 甜心格格 Sweetheart Princess

Ages: 6.5 & 9.5
Suitable for: 6 and up

Reading 西遊記 to the kids this semester is our foray into more advanced Chinese, including vocabulary used in court.  Chinese is kind of like Japanese and Korean.  There is a more formal and polite way of speaking, with specific vocabulary used to denote relationship hierarchy.  But thankfully, unlike those two languages, there are no verb tense changes.    I’m hoping that knowing these terms will help with reading more advanced Chinese literature.

Since a very good way to introduce new vocabulary is through listening, namely audiobooks or TV, first, off I went to finally look into 甜心格格, translated as Sweetheart Princess (though the official images I’ve seen says Ori-Princess, which makes no sense).  We first watched the anime series when we were in Taiwan 3 years ago on Momo TV and the kids really liked it.   But I hadn’t been able to find a Taiwan dubbed version.

This time around, I gave up on the Taiwanese version and just used the Mainland version available on Youtube.  The series is from China anyway.  I knew some of the pronunciation and terms used in China are different from Taiwan, so I’d wanted to keep the exposure consistent.  But at this point, with the kids Chinese fairly good enough, it doesn’t matter.

The series is set in the Qing dynasty and about a princess who was raised amongst the commoners and “rediscovered” by her father the emperor.  He brings her back home and attempts to convert her to a princess and the antics that ensue.  Sophia the First she’s not.  Don’t let the title Princess turn you off.  It’s more just about her adventures with the background set in the imperial palace.

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Audiobook Review: Mr. Men and Little Miss 奇先生妙小姐

Age: 6.5 & 9.5
Grade Level: 4+ (listening), lower elementary (reading)

This semester, I’ve introduced a new routine.  The children can listen to an audiobook while they fold their laundry during work hours.  I offered Astroboy Mr. Men and Little Miss 奇先生妙小姐 one day and finally, there is something that is at Astroboy‘s comprehension level and actually engaging.

Astroboy has been listening to the series for the last month.  Mr. Men and Little Miss is just like Thomas the Train.  After a few repeats, the kids can tell me exactly what each Mr. Men and Little Miss’ story is about, and knows to request a specific one that they find especially funny.  Then, when they’re not listening, they will discuss the stories and laugh their heads off.  Even better, because Fleur and Mandarin Mama‘s kids are also listening to the series, sometimes they would discuss the stories on the playground.

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Mandarin Reading Club

About a month ago, I finally started that book club I’d been wanting to start for over a year.  This is our fifth week and I think I kind of have the format down now.

There are 4 kids in our club, ranging from 5 to 9.  Because of the range of children, my goal wasn’t to have a the children read one book at home and then discuss and analyze in the club, but rather just to foster reading and have the children discuss books with each other.  The idea came to me when I saw how happy Thumper was, discussing, drawing, and giggling with Bebe about Harry Potter.  I realized then just how powerful it is having peers to learn Chinese with.

Here’s what our most recent reading club meeting looked like (more…)

Book Review: 跨世紀小說 Cross Century Set

Age:  9
Grade: 3rd-JH (中高年級到國中), most are 5th-6th
Pages: 200+.

For other book reviews, please see my Books page.

It’s kind of strange to be writing a book “review” for a series when Thumper’s only read 2 of them.  But I love what we have read so far and am singing the series’ praises left and right.  Since I plan to collect the rest of the series that are out of print, I thought I will create a reference doc for myself for this book review.

The Cross Century Set, otherwise known as 跨世紀小說 from Eastern Publishing (東方出版社), is a set of 54 books.   Eastern Publishing translated a bunch of award winning or nominated novels (Newberry medals, Carnegie Medals, etc) and also acquired the rights to several out of print books from another publisher, and published them under the Cross Century name.  Their website describes the set as (and I very roughly translate into English):

From countries such as the U.S., England, France, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Ireland, Germany, and Spain, these award winning children’s literature explore topics on friendships, family, adventure, life, and growing up…..

來自美國、英國、法國、澳洲、紐西蘭、荷蘭、愛爾蘭、德國、西班牙等國的現代兒童文學獎傑作,為孩子述說生命真諦、親情友情、成長探索、想像冒險等主題,除了可滿足閱讀樂趣,更可啟發孩子的想像力,幫助建立正確、積極的人生觀。

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Three Months Mandarin Immersion in Taiwan – Was it Worth It?

We’ve been back for 3 weeks now.  Ironically, life in the States is faster paced.  There are so many more chores and various other “life” activities that need to be taken care of.  The kids don’t have built in daily playdates anymore, requiring way more conscious scheduling and driving time.

Before our daily routine overwhelms me and I forget completely, I thought I should look back on our trip in Taiwan.

So was three months mandarin immersion in Taiwan worth it?

The short answer is a resounding yes.

At the 1.5 month mark, I was questioning whether or not we were seeing any effect.   But since returning, I have noticed how Astroboy would spout new vocabulary that I hadn’t heard out of his mouth before.   The taxi driver on our way to the airport said that the children’s Chinese are more fluid than 3 months ago.  Definitely Astroboy‘s listening comprehension and range of vocabulary is much better.  We listened to Magic Treehouse in the car the other day and he didn’t get bored like before.

Was it Taiwan?  Because he wasn’t interacting with local children daily.  Or was it the huge amount of cartoon they watched in the last month?  Was it the fact that he had to speak Chinese to random people daily, other than me?  That even the little amount helped?  Who knows.  But now, just like three years ago, his overall language development went up because we were only doing one language for three months, instead of two languages here.  That’s just my conjecture.

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Case Study: Organizing A Large Chinese Library Collection

This is part of my series on building A Chinese Library.   For a complete list of posts, see here.

Last year, I re-organized Mandarin Mama’s Library.    This year, I helped Fleur organize the 8+ boxes of books elfe brought back from Taiwan.  We’re not quite done yet, but at least the books are mostly on the shelves.  She has a substantially larger book collection, probably 500+ books and tons of magazine.

 

I wrote a super long post, but really the process is the same, with 1 or 2 tweaks.   So instead I’m going to just modify the original “recipe” and list them here, point out some of the things we did differently, and post tons of pics.  Because, when the Chinese books are all lined up along a wall, it’s so pretty! (more…)

Where to Buy DVDs in Taiwan

This is part of my series on Building A Chinese Library for the Kids.  My previous post was on Where to Buy Books in Taiwan.

No trip to Taiwan is complete without a DVD shopping spree.   Since my last shopping spree three years ago I’ve discovered YouTube.  But I find that it is sadly not a source of Disney movies or non-fiction DVDs.   (However, if you know where to look, websites abound that lets you watch these online!)

Our trip down the rabbit hole of DVD purchase started out innocently enough, first we went to Costo and found some interesting DVDs.  Then, thanks to Dr. Miyazaki’s request to find some good marine-life related DVDs, we went to stores in Electronic shopping district.  Eventually, I ended up going all over Taipei to look for DVDs for friends.

In any case, just like the bookstores, I did not go to every DVD store in Taipei.  But after a few, we kind of saw the pattern in what’s carried in stock and didn’t seek out new ones.

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Where to Buy Books in Taiwan

This is part of my series on Building Your Chinese Library.  Check out my previous, related post on All About Buying Books in Taiwan.

It’s T-6 and seriously, NO MORE Book Buying.  Right now, it’s looking like my books may barely fit into my allowed luggage.

This means I can finally come out of blog rest and detail all the bookstores I visited, both physically and virtually.  Obviously I didn’t visit all the bookstores in Taipei.   But we did go back to the used ones multiple times.  After awhile, patterns emerged and there was no reason to go discover more stores during our trip.

You  may also want to check out the first general overview post I wrote about buying books in Taiwan a year ago.  This post just goes into more details about the individual bookstores.

This post is by no end an exhaustive list of all the bookstores in Taiwan, nor a list of the cheapest bookstores.  You can always be looking for that cheaper bookstore.  As I mentioned in my overview post, a super good deal is 65% of list price.  The cheapest option is easy to find online if you can pay by Cash/ATM Transfer, then carry the books back yourself.  This option is only available for people with relatives in Taiwan or people who go back often.  For me, I try to find stores that accept US credit cards and is wiling to ship to me in the US.

Since it’s the end of the year and my Dramabeans kdrama year-end reviews are fresh on my mind, I’m going to do something similar, give each bookstore a little verdict.

Note:  In Taiwan, prices are talked about as a % of list price, rather than % off.  So 70% list is really 30% off.

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