Just as skills like reading English and doing math need to be reinforced at home, so do the Chinese skills your child is learning. This does not need to be incredibly time-consuming. Fifteen to thirty minutes of Chinese time each school night can give your child the reinforcement he or she needs. And there are lots of resources available! The following are suggestions of how you can help your children learn Chinese.
1. Support your child in doing any Chinese homework they have. For example if s/he has a take home reading book listen to your child read it. If your child has spelling words, have them write the words two or three times each night. If your child doesn’t have homework, ask your teacher for some, or use some of the below resources. 15-30 minutes of Chinese practice at home can definitely help your child learn Chinese.
2. Currently, some schools use a Singapore reading curriculum. You access their website and have your children read you the books they are studying in school. The website can be a little difficult to navigate because it’s in Chinese, but don’t be intimidated – it really isn’t that hard, especially because your child can probably figure it out. If that fails, contact your child’s teacher.
3. Some students use Better Chinese. Your school may provide free or discounted membership; it is typically about $25.00 a year. Having your children read you the online stories can be very helpful for them to reinforce their reading skills.
4. Math flashcards that children can use to remember math vocabulary. (English translation here).
5. Digital flashcards based on the key vocab words are available to help your children reinforce their skills. First grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade. Notice that there are some games that can be played. Some are harder than others, “Scatter” is one that many children will enjoy.
6. Practice reading with Chinese Immersion teachers from Canada reading Chinese books.
7. Let your children watch Chinese video clips. For example, they can watch Dora the Explorer or Spongebob Squarepants (note – both of those links are to YouTube-like sites that display ads. Putting the display to full-screen often eliminates the ad. Both of those links are for individual episodes; additional episodes appear underneath). Younger learners might enjoy Sesame Street or Thomas the Train in Chinese. Several other videos, songs, etc. are linked here.
8. Connect with other parents of immersion students and work together. Get connected if you aren’t already.
9. Help your children type in Chinese. This YouTube video explains how to make it so that you can type Chinese characters on your computer. Some children will have fun typing letters to each other using characters. For those who like pinyin, this macro can help you quickly transform a word like “wo3” into “wǒ.”
10. If you have a smart device, get some apps for your kids to play with. Speak and Learn Pro (iOS only) works like Rosetta stone, but much cheaper ($9.99). Should be a fun review for most students and a good way to reinforce learning.
More resources — Dictionaries, pinyin generators, flash cards and learning sites
www.archchinese.com – Great for generating worksheets for handwriting practice. The site also has an animation tool showing you the stroke order for 7,000 frequently used characters.
Google translate – not always accurate, but helpful
http://www.nciku.com/ – another dictionary
Pleco– Chinese dictionaries, flash cards, etc. for ipad and iphone
Chinese Books, media, toys and art supplies
Little Monkey – online store
Eastern Trends – locally-produced Chinese newspaper, great for current events
Youku– China’s version of YouTube
CNTV – China’s national network TV
CNTVenglish – learn survival Chinese
Show, don’t just tell your kids Mandarin is important. Learn a little Mandarin, too!
The Rosetta Stone – Preferred by corporations and the U.S. military. Expensive, but some school districts offer group discounts.
Foreign Service Institute – Free and government-approved
University of Utah’s Confucius Institute – Live, in-person college-level instruction
Utah State Office of Education
Official site for Utah’s Chinese Immersion Program
Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition
Utah Foreign Language Association – comprised of foreign language teachers
American Council on The Teaching of Foreign Languages – created our assessments
Center on Applied Linguistics
Council on Standards for International Educational Travel – vet foreign exchange programs
Canyons School District Immersion Program
Our Facebook page!