Friday, 18 September 2015

Reading Mandarin with Wood

One of the things I am adamant to do is to expose Mandarin to Doll. We don't speak Mandarin and are not fluent in the language. Because we are not a mandarin speaking family, it is natural that Doll is adverse to the language.
Mandarin is a difficult language to learn because it cannot be decoded phonetically. The words are pictorial so, it is either you know the word or don't know the word. The other challenging thing is a word can morphed into a totally different word in its pronunciation and meaning with just a few added strokes. It does not help that the intonation of some words are very close to one another.  To learn Mandarin, the only way to go is to memorised the symbols and its sounds. (Psst, that is why I also believe we can learn to read English the same way- purely by sight. It is equally effective)
So anyway, before Doll started school this year, she rejected Mandarin books and had little interest in it. Thanks to the exposure she gets in school, we are fortunate that she is liking the language and sometimes attempts to speak in it, albeit gibberish.
And so, this opportunistic mama capitalised on her growing interest and quickly swoop in to teach her.
So here's what I have been doing.
Doll's school uses these mandarin readers to teach the kids. I notice most kindergarten uses these series too. I don't think the teachers expect them to really recognise the words. The thing is I disagree with their teaching style. Somehow the kids memorises the book without really recognising the words. That is like a thorn in my flesh. I cannot accept that. So whenever Doll brings these readers home, I would make sure she recognises each and every word. Since she is already familiar with the book, it is easier for her to remember the words.
But the good thing is, by term 3, she is beginning to consciously remember the words. Makes my job a lot easier. I just need to revise with her.
I also use these babies to teach her simple words and expose her to the language sentence structure. I like it because the words are repetitive and very simple. It helps that that fonts are large, somehow it makes it easy on the eyes.
We have completed two books and we are on our way to our third.  

I bought this cylinder of Chinese wood blocks for Sonshine actually. But I never got the chance to use it because I couldn't find the right time to use it with him. So I kept it for the longest time until now.
The set includes wooden blocks with Chinese characters on them. The purpose is to combined the characters either at the side or top or bottom to make a word.
Doll learnt these two words in our own reading books. I took these out to give her a visual on how different these two words are. Good thing, she is not confused and could read these words instantly.
And so my brains got itchy and I realised I could also use my Daiso wooden blocks to make my own! The silly thing is that that set does not have all the words I need. So I made my own.
And here's my advice.
You don't have to buy the learning aid at all. You can make your own, it is cheaper and more satisfying!
Again, these were the words she has learn in her school. Since these words look so similar, I made these blocks to help visually discriminate the words. Again, she did not seem to need it as she could read the words however how I slide the wood block.
Onward with our learning!

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