Calvin’s Progress in Chinese@ 2 months

Two months ago, I saw a Facebook post by a former colleague asking for help for his daughter’s elementary school Chinese homework. I’ve seen his daughter before and we even bought her a baby toy a while back. It then dawned on me that she is probably in Primary 1 and I was assailed with a sense of panic. Are P1 students expected to construct sentences and write so many Chinese characters? At the rate that Calvin was learning Chinese, which is close to nada, he would be woefully unprepared if he enters a Singapore school. It was then that I stepped up my efforts to teach him Chinese.

I started by trying to speak more Chinese with him, giving simple instructions in chinese. We also watched more 巧虎 videos just so he can get accustomed to the sound of people speaking it. I also started hunting down pdf scans of Chinese books because I only have 20ish little books that I brought along from Singapore years ago. We began to read about 5 books a week. It was hard to find books that are suitable for his infantile level of Chinese and have a good story that engages him. I don’t want to have to translate everything in English because that would defeat the purpose of reading Chinese books in the first place!

Then about one month later, we started using the flashcards from the book 四五快读 which I also bought more than 2 years ago. I wasn’t so concerned about him learning how to read. It was just a more structured way for me to help im understand the meaning of common chinese words. After about one month and more than 50 words later, I have to say his memory of the chinese characters are pretty good. I’m pleased that it teaches chinese characters in a way that is interesting. He probably won’t remember most of them after a while since he’s not reading yet.

Now, we’ve been reading about 10+ books every week and I’ve also ordered some Chinese books that is floating over from China right now. I’ve also started playing an hour of Chinese songs every afternoon while he’s having quiet time. I am very pleased that he can understand a lot of the simple things I say to him and even attempts to form word pairs 词语himself. I wonder if we will be able to raise his competency to such a level that he will be comfortable in a Singapore school. I guess all I can do is to try to create a more immersive environment for him and hope that he will pick up reading Chinese books too. It’s also heartening to see that he will pick out Chinese books for me to read to him. It makes me want to buy a while library of Chinese books for him. I guess compared to hiring a tutor for him now or in the future, this is a small investment to make.

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