Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Chinese at home - EV @ 2 years

I started exposing EV to Chinese from when she was only a month old (you can read more about it here), and if you read 'EV's milestones' in the sidebar, you'll see that the efforts have paid off. Lately, EV is recognising even more Chinese characters, and understanding their meanings too. Here's a video of EV pointing out characters from a wall chart when she was two years one month old.

I wanted to share my Chinese journey with EV. Having made it a point to read to her Chinese books since she was young, I always made sure that the books I chose were fun and relaxing. I read her tongue twisters, rhymes and poems, even Tang poems, and tried to make it lighthearted during our nightly reading sessions. And, I always read the Chinese books before English ones. Then when she was one and a half years old, I started pointing out simple characters to her like 一, 三, 山,  and so on, which are relatively easy to remember. I focused on reading to her and simply sharing the beauty of the language with her. Here are some of the books we used.

Around the same time, we bought sing-along DVDs of nursery rhymes and poems. These DVDs also showed the lyrics in karaoke style, which help somewhat in her character recognition. What was important though, is again exposing EV to the language in a fun way, since EV is such a music lover. 

Concurrently, we also often bring her to the wall chart of Chinese characters and show her certain characters repeatedly. The video earlier is the result of this.

Our efforts have been paying off. These DVDs are EV's favourite and she asks for them everyday. She's often in the mood for Chinese and indicates her desire by saying 'Chinese, Chinese'. Not only is she recognizing more Chinese characters, she is also picking up on her verbal Chinese. No matter that she usually responds in English. She totally understands when we speak to her in chinese, as I've been speaking to her since she was a baby. Lately, she has been vocalizing more Chinese too, even some Cantonese! (My mom speaks to her in Cantonese). 

Just this week, EV has started to sing two Chinese songs in full, thanks to the DVDs. They are 小星星 (Chinese version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) and 小老鼠上灯台 (a little mouse climbing up a lamp). I have here the lyrics of 小星星.

Here are the lyrics of 小老鼠上灯台.
小老鼠, 上灯台。
偷吃油, 下不来。
喵喵喵, 猫来啦,

Granted, her pronunciation may not be clear all the time, but the tune and overall gist of the song is there.

Clearly, EV is very receptive to Chinese and I needed to take advantage of this to introduce more of the language to her, essentially character recognition and speaking, and maybe show her some writing of simple characters like 一, 三, 人, 大 and so on. All the while keeping it fun and playful. So I needed to turn to resources with a little more structure to help me along the way.

As I had shared here, I recently bought the 我会读 Level 1 series, and have started book 1 with her. I go through the characters about two times a day, every two days (the book recommends thrice daily). She recognized 爸爸, 弟弟 and 阿姨 very quickly after going through a few times. Her receptiveness to the language is extremely encouraging and I believe I can move to book 2 soon. 

Rather than follow a formal lesson plan at the moment, I will use this series in a more relaxed environment and take EV's cues. Like during the E for Elephant session when she requested for it herself. 

EV is also requesting to be read Chinese books, even choose some from her little library herself. I got more story-based books to read to EV. I particularly chose those with story lines that reflect her life and experiences, like learning to use the potty or a story about balls, with simple story lines and sentences. I try to point out each character to her while reading, so she can follow the characters too. I also picture read and ask her to point out items I name, all in Chinese, much like what I do when reading English books.

These are the two sets of Chinese books I got for EV recently. 小猫当当 is based on a popular Japanese story character, while 乐悠悠小宝贝 hails from the Netherlands. Both feature stories that young ones can identify with, like falling sick, taking a shower or chasing after a ball. 

I was reading the 小猫当当: 小红球,等一等 story to EV and when we turned to the page about the red ball being lost in a tree full of balloons, I asked EV to imagine reaching high and trying to touch the tree. EV very adoringly said 'Cannot reach!', so we climbed up the tree, got the ball and climbed down very carefully. EV was totally immersed in this pretend play, and had fun with mummy.

Hopefully, this will set her up for her next stage of learning Chinese.

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