We rarely, or maybe even never, speak in mandarin at home. The result? Sonshine can read, recognise words and understand mandarin passage but cannot communicate in mandarin. I would have let it pass if not for the oral examinations in primary school. :(
I try to speak as much as I can but my mandarin is limited. The next best thing I thought I can do is to make him read aloud a simple mandarin book everyday. I make him read the same book over and over and over again until I think he's got them in his head. The purpose is to get him familiar with the mandarin sentence structure, phrases and hearing himself speak in mandarin.
This is a typical book he would read each night. I deliberately choose a very short & simple book so that it won't deter him from reading. These are Pelangi books which are readily available in most Popular book shops.
A look inside the book. Picture illustrations for each sentences; I find this helps him to understand sentences that he does not know.
And yes, there is Hanyu Pinyin- that is deliberate too. Why? While my mandarin isn't great but I dare say my Hanyu Pinyin is superb. I learnt it purely by reading books with Hanyu Pinyin- but that also means I read the Hanyu Pinyin more than the words itself. Hence, I made Sonshine read this book so to brush up his Hanyu Pinyin.
Of course, I worry that he reads the Hanyu Pinyin and neglect looking at the words. But my worries were unfounded, fortunately! I made these cards based on the new words he learnt in the book. I had him read those words; I mixed the cards & he arranged them accordingly. Other than recognising words, I also want him to be familiar with phrases. So far, this method seems to be working. He is able to use the phrases in the books and apply them in simple conversation. But, he still has a LONG way to go. God bless me & him!