Age: 7 & 10 (Suitable for 1st grade and up)
As we shift our focus onto English this semester, I’m finding myself encountering some typical issues with learning Chinese as a second language: no time and inability to move up a level.
The children spend a lot of their free time listening to English audio books. I’m not stopping them because that’s my focus this semester: upping both kids’ English comprehension to the next level. But as a result, it feels like the Chinese is just keeping pace.
Though both Thumper and Astroboy continue reading Chinese books as assignments and bedtime reading, I know better. English aural input has a huge impact. I can see it in the books they choose to read. Thumper can’t quite make that jump to higher level, more difficult Chinese. When I ask her what certain words mean in the mid to upper elementary books she’s reading, she often doesn’t know. Astroboy is reading higher level Chinese books, but only because he’s already listened to the English audiobooks.
In any case, since we have no time with all that focus on English curriculum during the work period, a new plan of attack is needed. To that end, I’m having the children watch newscast after dinner every night, for about 30 minutes.
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.
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.