“So, your kids are learning Chinese? Are you learning it too? How do you help them with their homework?”
These remarks may sound very familiar to you. In most language immersion cases, no the parents aren’t also learning Chinese. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am picking up bits and pieces and can say things like, hi- nǐ hǎo and red- hóng, but if I am honest, I am definitely not learning the language. Addressing the harder question, how do I help him with his homework? Well I don’t, I mean not really! I can help him read the english instructions(if there is any), we can try Google or iPhone Siri but mostly, it’s up to him. He is learning, at a young age, to use his resources, problem solve or MOST IMPORTANTLY, understand his homework before he comes home from school. These basic skills will continue to develop and hopefully be second nature and so beneficial to him as he moves through school and life.
The one thing I have found SUPER helpful for me and useful for him as we learn from home, is a good bilingual dictionary. There are two in particular we use at home that I would recommend to you. The first, is a book called First Thousand Words in Chinese and it comes with an Internet-linked pronunciation guide. This is a really great introductory resource if you can find it, for me especially because of the internet link and the fact that familiar English letters have very different sounds in Chinese. However, the book is no longer in print. So.. if you can find a decent used one, GRAB IT! The book includes an image, the Chinese character and the pinyin AND you can go online and hear the correct pronunciations for the words on each page. Like I said, for me, a non-speaker, it’s wonderful. This is a resource that even our local Chinese teachers have recommended to us.
The second, and more accessible dictionary is called, Mandarin Chinese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary. Available in our products section here on our website too, see link below. This is a great resource, complete with images, Chinese characters and pinyin also. This book definitely reminds me more of a traditional English style dictionary, though it is broken into familiar sections instead of alphabetical. Complete with hundreds of useful everyday translations broken into seventeen different categories that include things like sports, plants, food, shopping, traveling, the environment, health and work. This will be a useful resource for you and your Chinese learner for years to come!
Mandarin Chinese-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary PURCHASE HERE
First Thousand Words in Chinese ISBN:0794515509 Pronunciation Website