Member Post: How Her Child Read Chinese Fluently Before 5 (by Valen S.)

 

Valen did her post in our Facebook Group in Chinese but I will translate it as best as I can here. You can visit our group to get advice from more crazy moms and dads and how they taught their children:

應熱情大方又不吝分享的版主Julie之邀,來談談我家孩子學習中文的心路歷程~

我家劉鼻涕(小名)目前6歲半,小一新鮮人。目前會讀繁體、也會簡體,會看注音也會看拼音,也可以不仰賴注音看漫畫書看的津津有味。她發音標準,看到華人長輩會自動講中文,有時陌生人還誤會她是不是不大會講英文。。看到這裡,你可能以為我有很神奇的方法可以分享。事實上我沒有什麼秘訣,她也沒上過中文學校、沒學過基礎漢字500,家裡也沒有任何字卡。所以我一向不太分享孩子如何學習中文,因為在我看來,我並沒有做了什麼。如果你問我,那到底有做什麼?我想,只有一點值得提。就跟版上瘋狂買書的媽媽們一樣- 大量的買書,大量的親子共讀。

My daughter is six and a half right now. She knows how to read traditional and simplified characters. She knows zhuyin as well as pinyin but she doesn’t need phonetic assistance anymore due to her love of reading comics. She has perfect pronunciation and speaks Chinese to Chinese fluently to a point where people may think she may not know English! You may think I had some magical formula to share but the truth is, there’s no magic in developing a child who reads fluently in Chinese at a young age. She’s never been to Chinese school and never did the most common 500 characters everyone has been training. We don’t have flashcards at home either so I don’t frequently share how we came about on our journey to read. The reason being I don’t feel like I did anything special. If you really had to boil it down to one thing, then it’s the same thing the crazy tiger moms in the Motherly Notes Facebook Group has done: crazily buy enormously large amount of books and do an incessant amount of reading!

 

孩子兩歲半時,有幸讀了汪培珽的「喂故事書長大的孩子」,開始認識了繪本。從她推薦的書單下手,從此,這是一條不歸路(哈哈,這裡的媽媽們應該可以理解!)。我幾乎每個月都從博客來訂書來美國,一箱又一箱的繪本寄到家裡來時,總覺得熱血沸騰,迫不及待要趕快唸給孩子聽。每天比照三餐,早上睡醒後;中午午睡時;晚上熄燈前,都是唸繪本給孩子聽的好時機。一天唸兩小時是家常便飯,有的書孩子喜歡,唸個50遍100遍也應該有。(不知道為什麼,總有個階段小孩老是愛重複聽同一本書!)

When she was two and a half, I bought 「喂故事書長大的孩子」and took down the recommended books from the book list. From then on, it was a point of no return on our journey for the love of books and stories. Every single month, I would buy a crazy load of books from http://www.books.com.tw. (For how to buy books here, read this How to Buy on 博客來 (Books.com.tw) or where else can I get books in the states?) Every time my monthly box arrived, we’d be more than ecstatic to open up the box immediately and read. We read in the morning, mid day, and at night. Every single day, I read an average of two hours. If she liked a book, sometimes we could read it up to 100 times! This is pretty normal for children this age to repeat a book a million times until they’re satisfied.

讀了一年半,在西語幼兒園老師的建議下(另一段故事。老師的用意是想讓孩子知道每一種語言都有自己的語音系統),我在她四歲前的暑假跟她一起用巧虎注音學習機自學了中文注音。她學了注音後,我還是每天大量唸書給她聽,沒有讓她自行閱讀。只是差別是,當我沒空時,她偶爾會自己看書,因為學了注音她就能自己「解碼」閱讀。也許因為她那時候已經累積了大量的理解能力,所以一讀就明白書中的意思,也開始越來越習慣自己看書。後來4歲末愛上了一套簡體版的十萬個為什麼漫畫,就自己摸索邊讀邊自學簡體。5歲時又愛跟我買搶我買給自己的高木直子漫畫,就這樣漸漸過渡到無注音閱讀~

After a year and a half, a teacher suggested that I start teaching phonics so I decided to use 巧虎注音學習機 for zhuyin (phonetic assistance). Even though she learned zhuyin, it didn’t stop me from my hours of reading daily. We still continued that. The only difference is, when I am busy, she can independently read. Since her comprehension was already high (due to our long hours of reading), she was able to read and just understand what she was reading after sounding out the words. Then she got used to independent reading. At age 4, she fell in love with the simplified version of “十萬個為什麼” comics and taught herself simplified characters. At age five, she fell in love with comics I bought for myself! This made her step into the territory of no phonetic assistance to read Chinese.

 

我一直贊成學習語言要依循「聽說讀寫」的順序。很多中文學校的問題是一開始就讓孩子寫字,即使會寫會發音,真的不代表理解力。而閱讀,就是培養理解力最好的方式。Montessori說0-6歲的孩子是Absorbent mind,學什麼都快,就像海綿一樣吸收力超強。這個階段,培養閱讀力絕對是最佳時機。而我認為閱讀力,絕對建立在聽力和理解力之上。

I believe in “Listen, Speak, Read, then Write” in that order to learn a language. The problem with some schools is they teach writing first. Even if they know how to write and know how to sound it out, they don’t know what it means! Their comprehension is still low. Reading daily increases comprehension the fastest. Montessori says children 0-6 is in the Absorbent mind stage. It means they learn everything fast like a sponge. During this period is the best period to develop reading comprehension. The ability for high level reading comprehension comes from the ability to listen and understand first.

如果三歲的孩子,不需要花時間認注音,就會有機會全神貫注聽媽媽講故事;不用認字,才會花心思在聽的同時,研究每一頁藏在繪圖裡的小細節。這時候是培養想像力和創意的最佳時機,別讓死記硬背過早進入孩子的世界。

If your three year old doesn’t need to spend time on learning phonetic assistance, then they have more time to listen to mommy’s stories. In fact, they’ll spend their time figuring out what you’re saying and comprehend stories better. They’ll also study the minute details in the picture books better. This is the perfect period for them to utilize their imagination and creativity. No need to hone down on strict memorization at this stage in life.

當初的大量閱讀,其實沒有抱著太多的關於中文的期望,一方面想kill time(在家一個人帶孩子真的很無聊),另一方面是想跟孩子共同度過一段屬於我倆的親子時光。每次孩子躺在在我的身邊聽書,我就覺得很甜蜜。以後她長大了,不再需要我的話,她會記得童年有過這一段時間,盡情享受媽媽的陪伴,而我也會永遠記得小時候曾經一起黏TT的共讀時光。

When we first started hours of reading, I wasn’t expecting to gain much and it was just a ways and means for us to kill time. It was extremely boring for me to take care of a child at home by myself during the day. However, reading with my child has turned into one of the most memorable periods of my life. It’s extremely sweet and heart warming when I think about it. When she grows up and doesn’t need me anymore, she’ll at least look back at our time spent reading and realize how much joy was fostered from our story time.

 

到今天,我還是喜歡有空時唸書給她聽。而她因為養成了有空就會看書的習慣,所以閱讀能力和速度在同齡中算是不錯的。如果你的孩子喜歡聽書而不喜歡認字,那請爸爸媽媽們繼續加油,投其所好,多多買書唸書給孩子聽吧!等時機成熟,你要擋也擋不住。就算不是為了中文,也是一段寶貴的回憶。而且,相信我,沒有孩子長期聽父母唸中文繪本而說自己討厭中文的!有的時候放下學習的包袱,單純說故事,效果並不會差。大家一起加油,互相學習~~ 💪

Even until today, I still enjoy reading to her even though she can read on her own. If your child loves hearing stories, I urge you to continue your efforts! Build your foundation and read incessantly to your children! When the timing is right, you can’t even hold them back from learning and reading Chinese on their own! I haven’t heard any child who says they don’t like Chinese by being read to by their own parents. Sometimes you have to let go of “how much they need to learn” and just enjoy your reading time. The result will be the same, I can assure you that. Let’s all work hard together!

*最近孩子大了,英文越來越好,我開始認真想辦法提升她的中文水平。除了閱讀之外,我想最好還是盡量讓中文與生活結合,在家製造Oliver前輩提倡的中文環境。所以有機會我會在家播我愛聽的中文(老)歌🤣,看中文紀錄片和綜藝節目,也在新年時闔家共賞央視的春晚,讓孩子學習欣賞「小品」的幽默對白。以後有機會再介紹~

She’s recently gotten quite good at English so I’ve been trying to find other ways to keep her up to par with her Chinese as well. I am following the advice of Oliver Tu. Any chance I get at home, we’re playing Chinese Oldies, watching Chinese films and talk shows, reviving Chinese traditions (such as New Years), and letting my child immerse fully in the Chinese culture!

Here’s my take from her article: READ , READ, READ, don’t save up that money but spend willingly on BOOKS like we all have, and the other advice: 

  • Read when you’re walking
  • Read in the parking lot
  • Always carry your own chair because you’ll be reading
  • Read when you’re in the restroom
  • Read when you’re showering
  • Read when you’re eating
  • Read when you’re mad
  • Read when you’re sad
  • Read when you’re arguing
  • Read when traveling
  • Read on the car
  • Read on the plane
  • ….. get the idea?

For my own personal experience in teaching my children: My Journey in Teaching My Children Chinese. For other parent’s experiences: Interviews With Parents Who Have Successfully Taught Their Children Chinese

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