Bringing chinese home
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Bringing Chinese Home. Introduction. Basic, even if small, foundation in understanding Chinese gives parents confidence Lots that parents can and should do to help their children with Chinese. Learn Pinyin. Be able to follow along as child reads

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Bringing chinese home

Bringing Chinese Home


  • Basic, even if small, foundation in understanding Chinese gives parents confidence

  • Lots that parents can and should do to help their children with Chinese.

Learn pinyin
Learn Pinyin

  • Be able to follow along as child reads

  • Get character AND character/pinyin versions of classroom fluency practices

  • Read pinyin to sing songs together

“Pinyin” is the standard romanization system used for Mandarin

Happy birthday to you
“Happy Birthday To You”

No tones needed when singing!

zhunishengrikuai le (repeat 4x)

祝你生日快 乐


Wish you birth/life day happy

When spoken, add tones: zhùnǐshēngrìkuàilè

Bringing chinese home

Complete list of all Pinyin sounds

Bringing chinese home

Tongue Twister Pinyin Read-a-long Practice



Bird Island is an island;



Bird Island has birds.

鸟岛的 鸟多得数不清了。

niáodǎo de niǎoduō de shǔbùqīngle。

The birds on Bird Island are countless.



If you wish to go to Bird Island,



you must love birds.



If you don't love small birds,



don't go to Bird Island.

Decoding characters
Decoding Characters

Some characters are based on drawings or concepts

龜 山 火


Above: turtle, mountain, fire up, down

Right: door/gate

Decoding characters1
Decoding Characters

Characters are usually combinations:

Two drawings or two meanings...

家牢 明森

Characters are likely a

Sound/Meaning combination

Ex: Have the sound “gu” from their古 part:

估咕姑故 固 菇 蛄 鈷

家=roof + pig = home/family 牢 = roof +cow = pen/prison 明= sun+moon=bright, light 森=wood+wood+wood =forest

Decode characters together
Decode characters together

  • Ask, “What is the bushou? “(bùshǒu “Radical”)

    The radical meaning woman 女 is in words for

    mother 妈, marry 嫁, little sister 妹 , good 好

    Others: eye, water, power, knife, insect, dry, hand, spear, fire, ice, field, heart, mouth, sickness, silk...

Bringing chinese home

Examples from characters with 古 part for sound “gu”

With radical for woman 姑= paternal aunt

With radical for enclosure 固 = solid

With radical for insect 蛄 = mole cricket

With radical for gold [metal] 鈷 = cobalt

From characters build words
From Characters, Build Words

Compound words make sense!

electric-brain, electric-vision, electric-talk


These have “fire” in the word: train, match, volcano, very mad, turkey, rocket, Mars


electric-brain = computer, electric-vision = television, electric-talk= telephone

train = fire-vehicle; match = fire-kindling; volcano=fire-mountain; very mad= fire-big; turkey= fire-chicken; rocket=fire-arrow; Mars = fire-star

Decode characters and words
Decode Characters and Words

  • Use the clues(pictures, sound parts, bushou/radical, etc.)

  • Encourage guessing

  • Master dictionary skills

Bringing chinese home

Sample questions to prompt guessing strategies

  • Could the character be a picture?

  • Do you recognize any pieces of it?

  • What sound does that piece have?

  • Do you know any words with that sound?

  • What is the “bushou”?

Push writing practice
Push writing practice

  • Get stroke order right from the start

  • Practice calligraphy(water only version or real ink)

  • Download practice apps

  • Feel the characters: wax sticks creations, sand, soap lather, back scratches

Know strokes
Know Strokes

Have a common language to use to describe the [basically only] eight kinds of strokes

Bringing chinese home




Goal: be able to “see” characters well enough to recognize its match, to make sure are looking up the right character

Reinforce characters
Reinforce characters

  • Use games: Speed drills --how many in a minute Stroke countdown--guess in as few strokes as possible Game apps

  • Watch online animations

  • Invent zany character stories and mnemonics做碧聽

Bringing chinese home

  • End your print desert

  • Use technology: Toggle between languages, pinyin/characters, sound/mute

  • More than books: subtitles, menus, signs, tongue twisters...(e.g. concert DVD, exercise video, food packaging, online chats)

  • Move up: Add idioms; recognize trad. characters

Bringing chinese home

More on reading:

  • Read to get more context

  • Get in Chinese reading habit from start

  • Check out area libraries

  • Try graphic novels

  • Move beyond “baby” level books, though hard to match reading level to age/English reading level

Share borrow
Share! Borrow!

  • Join groups; follow blogse.g. Mandarin Immersion Parents Council and Elizabeth Weise: look at their “Resources” lists

  • Share great finds

Examples of efforts: peer reading groups, online chats in Chinese, Chinese-language martial arts instruction, Chinese-language barbers, poetry/speech competition, host exchange student, “adopt” a grandparent, read to a toddler

Suggested links
Suggested links

  • Dictionary links:Try Pleco; Hippodict free versions(Tip: use “v” to input “ü” sound)

  • Yes!Chineseleveled readers, see index at

    Sample story: and bedtime stories:

  • for stories: idiom/history stories: learning characters:

  • in Vancouver Washington’s program have made videos of reading books aloud

Bringing chinese home

(Links Continued)

  • HowDoILearnChinese.com games for fruit, body parts, colors etc.; two very catchy songs for learning greetings and “Please give me...”

  • FluentUFree content includes videos such as recent TV commercials, songs, etc. but captioned in English, Chinese and pinyin, with vocabulary help. Sorted by difficulty level. Registration needed.

  • Silly Lilly, Stinky and a couple other kids’ books in different languages incl. Chinese

  • 36 Chinese Characters 三十六个字story told with animated pictographs

  • “The animation of Chinese character”

  • International Children’s Digital Library so far has 10 titles in Chinese

Bringing chinese home

(Links continued)

  • Mandarin Immersion Parents CouncilSan Francisco Mandarin parents’ website was so popular they started a national

  • A Parent’s Guide To Mandarin Immersion, coming fall 2014 by Elizabeth Weise, Mandarin Immersion Parents Council webmaster

  • Blog by U.S. mom raising bilingual kids

  • Utah dual language immersion—site not working?Utah Mandarin Immersion Parent Council

  • ChildRoad subscription stories (downloadable, free trial)

Bringing chinese home

(Links continued)

  • Taiwan’s Ministry of Culturemany book selections; subtitles in trad. characters

  • Beginning Mandarin lessons by PeaceCorppronunciation not by native speaker, but topics covered are good

  • Talking Chinese app, for beginning to learn Chinese, by FLTRP (Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press)

  • Chineasy by ShaoLanHsueh here is her TED talk video

  • Calligraphy PracticeFor INKLESS practice, shop online for “magic water painting paper” or “magic cloth for water brush painting” or “Chinese calligraphy practice sheet water only.” Also available for purchase locally.