Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Chinese resources for home learning

Mandarin is a subject that sends parents scurrying to tuition centers for help. A lot of us have no clue how to teach and are helpless in the language. I was too when my eldest was due for primary school education and I sent him for Chinese class in panic. However now that he is primary 3, I have sort of figure out how to work around this subject. Hence, my second child is spared of the extra class.
I cannot say that my teaching is so excellent that she has mastered the language. Far from it. Yet, I think she has learnt quite substantially, enough to be able to read and understand simple mandarin text. I dare say she is even better than her brother at this age.

It is possible to teach mandarin ourselves without relying on tuition centers. Of course certain factors are a must like, having some knowledge in mandarin and the spare time as well as patience. If all you have all the favorable factors and you want to teach your own child, here are some useful resources you can consider using. 

I recommend using one main one ie not use every single one simultaneously. Don't confuse and stress the child. 

Here are some recommended book resource one can use to teach a preschooler at home.

我会读 series is a set of mandarin books that comes in varying levels. The simplest level which is the pink series has one word per page. Every word is followed by a picture that explains the meaning of the word. Very much like flashcard but compiled in a book. I think this set is great for very young kids or beginning readers who are especially adverse to mandarin.

As the child goes up each level, the books will transition into simple sentences and later more complex sentences.

This is another set of simple mandarin books. Unlike the first series, it comes in sentences. It focuses on a particular word per book. It is very simple and easy to read. I reckon that by the end of mastering each book, the child should be able to speak and understand simple, basic mandarin sentences.

I have to add that this set is not readily available. I bought this straight from the publisher during a book fair. Look out for upcoming book fairs and see if you can find them!

This is another series that cannot be bought off the shelf. I think I also bought it from a publisher who set up a cart in a shopping area.

But this is another simple book, with basic sentences. It also focuses on a certain word or phrases per book. The level is more sophisticated than the above series.

This series can be easily found in Popular book shops. Unlike the previous two, it comes in hanyu pinyin and even an English translation. The pace of learning is a lot faster than the above books. Many new words are introduced at the same time. I recommend this for older kids who are already somewhat familiar with the language.

I suspect many kindergarten schools are using this set of books to teach the students. Again, it is not readily available at the main bookshops. But, you can easily get hold of them at the second hand bookshop, Evergreen at Bras Basah. Alternatively, look out for mummies who are willing to sell their copies.

It is almost like a story book with repetitive words with a mix of new words being introduced. It comes with flashcards that is useful to teach word recognition.

Of course, how can I not include 四五快读. It is also readily available at most Popular book stores. I like the systematic pace of this series. However, I do not think it suits any student. I reckon this book is good for children who are speaking mandarin at home and are already very familiar with the language. It is easier for children who are already have a chunk of listening vocabulary to recognise the words in this book. It is not recommended for children who hardly speaks or hear the language.

As I have wrote in another post, this is my favourite Chinese resource for teaching my pre-schooler. This series is akin to the Peter and Jane series. It is very systematic. Like Peter and Jane books, Berries books introduce a few new words in each chapter and repeated throughout the books. A note though, the above book pictured is an older version. Berries has published new books that are a lot more difficult. I find the pace of the new books are a lot faster than the old versions. I prefer to use the old versions as it suits Doll's pace of learning. Currently, this is the book that I am using to teach Doll. I highly recommend this resource.
 The way to use theses resource is to use it like a storybook. First read to your child and then have the child repeat it after you. Have the child read the book everyday at least once. If you want to make sure that she really recognises the words, make your own flashcards or write the words in another medium and have her read it aloud. Make sure she is proficient in the chapter before moving on to the next. Don't skip the pages, don't rush through it, take it slowly according to your child's pace.


  1. Hi, I am a FTWM and have a 3 and 1 year-old. I stumbled upon your blog as I was researching on Montessori for preschoolers and I've been hooked since! I went through all your old posts on homeschooling your children when they were still preschoolers and look forward to all new posts! :P

    I've been so inspired to 'after-school' my 3 year-old and have trotted down to Bras Basah hoping to get the chinese readers you recommended. One question though is the Berries readers- Will you recommend the 幼儿深广 or 幼儿启迪?I'm not quite sure what the difference is and would like your opinion on it. How do you encourage your daughter to sit through each 'afterschool' session? I can't seem to engage her for more than 10 minutes without her wandering off or requesting to play with other toys! TIA!


    1. Hi Sarah! Lovely to hear from you! Thank you for the kind words you've sent me to the moon and back!

      I wish to see more moms inspired and empowered to teach their kids instead of going straight to tuition centers at the first sign of distress.

      Now to your questions. I am not aware of that the berries book has two books. I am guessing these are N1 level books? I'm not familiar with N1 series. But I reckon that the 幼儿园深广 is sort of like an addition to the main text, sort of like 'higher level'. There's no hard and fast rules, the better copy is the one that your child likes and one that you are comfortable using.

      If I may, I recommend you use the 我会读 series for your 3 year old. It has pictures following each word. It may be able to hold your child's attention better than the berries N1 books which we far as I recall can be quite dry for a child who prefers more attractive illustrations. You may want to take a look at the books and see if it suits your child. Like I said, don't be compelled to follow a rule, standard. Find a book that you and more importantly your child likes.

      I usually do 'after-school' when no one else is at home and in area in my house that's far away from toys. These help to reduce any distractions. You may want to create a spot in your house solely for the main purpose of doing school work. Keep her toys far away from this area. You want her to associate this spot for learning, not for playing.

      Your child is still very young so it's expected that her attention span is short. Don't expect too much. If she can sit only for 10 mins then just teach her one word in that 10 mins. Make sure you make that 10 mins as interesting as possible so that she wants to come back again to learn. If 10 mins is all you got, then just focus on teaching her one word, read to her one book etc. Always make it enjoyable for her, don't make to a chore for her or else that 10 mins will be reduced to 5 mins. Always stop the lesson at it's peak, you want her to crave for more learning with you.

      Phew! I hope all that helps. I try to squeeze whatever I know in this reply! All the best in your learning journey with your kids. The rule is have fun and be consistent. The learning must have loads of laughter and not tears. If there's crying or frustration on her and your part, stop the learning. Retreat and reflect how you can make it better instead of forcing her to finish the lesson.

      Hope this helps!!!! :)) so excited for you!

  2. You remind so much of myself by the way! I was also researching on montessori for my son then when I too stumbled upon montessori related blogs (mainly in usa). I got inspired and started doing my own teaching at home and never looked back since! :)

  3. Excellent sharing of resources, homeschoolsg! I just realise our daughters are the same age.

    1. Yes! And we both refer our princesses as 'doll' :D

  4. Haha!! I guess after a boy or two, it is hard to ignore the 'doll-like' quality of daughters.