The first question I get asked when folks hear us talking in Chinese as a family, “how do you keep it up?” I must admit we are not doing as well as I had dreamed. I have worked so hard to learn what little Mandarin I know – not making my children go through that same pain when they are in their 30’s is on my short list. I was ambitious – told myself we would only speak Chinese at home and English when we are out and about. Reality check! But, we have found a few things that have helped us not to forget what we know. (Now if I could find a way not to forget where I set down my keys.)
For those of you who have asked, here are a few resources for language that we would recommend. Of course we watch us some Ni Hao Kai Lan – but sometimes you need a bit more than that. So here you go:
Our newest find that is so super fun…..Elmo in Chinese! Little Man loves it and it is great practice for the big kids too. You can watch episodes on YouTube here.
Isn’t that fun!! We all were so excited to find these. We spent Sunday evening with a bowl of popcorn sitting around the desk watching all the episodes. I found it on the Kid World Citizen web page, a great site with many resources.
If you have younger kids who enjoy Elmo then Little Pim would also be a good tool for you. These short videos introduce a lot of new words in an easy and engaging way similar to Baby Einstein movies. Older new langauge learners also could learn a lot by watching over little brother’s shoulder! Bonus – they aren’t to annoying.
For our big kids they started out learning Chinese using the Monkey King Curriculum. The books are colorful, they teach characters along with vocabulary in a fun way. They come with a CD. If the parent doesn’t know how to pronounce the words….no sweat. Learn right along with your child as you listen together. My kids started this series in Kindergarten and advanced a level each semester.
Monkey King might not be hard core enough for some of you….if that is the case I say dive in and purchase Rosetta Stone. We use it three times a week for the older kids (and Momma has used it too!) Little Monkey who is in Kindergarten this year dabbles with it too, but it is a bit hard for her. Rosetta Stone is expensive, but worth the money. Without it I am sure I would have forgotten much of my language skills over the past two years. There is a version for homeschooling that comes with audio ( Rosetta Stone) but we have used the regular version.
Before we were ready to purchase Rosetta Stone we used Pimsler. It is a third of the price of Rosetta Stone which seemed more doable for us at the time. It is great for helping you learn conversations – actually helps you jump in with common phrases quicker than you would learn with Rosetta Stone, but if you are a visual learner it can be difficult. (aka miss artist here needed the Rosetta Stone graphics!)
Good luck to you all! If you have a resource that has worked well for you I would love to hear about it. We are always looking for more ways to keep up our language skills. Let’s keep talking and encouraging each other as we learn!