Another inspirational member of our Facebook Group has shared their incredible journey of how their children learned to read fluently in Chinese at an early age. You are welcome to join our group to learn more from our members!
我的女兒們,一個七歲一個五歲。沒有去中文學校、一直以來都是我自己教中文。老大在努力了兩年之後, 中文漸漸趨近我一開始的期待— 讀少年小說, 目前閱讀速度約1分鐘250-300字, 堪稱中英可齊步；小女兒也以超出期待的速度穩定進步中。
I have two daughters ages seven and five who have never attended Chinese School. I have taught them Chinese myself. After diligently working for two years, my older one is finally approaching the level I had originally hoped for. She is now reading higher elementary novels. Currently, she can read about 250-300 words a minute (with similar speed in English). My younger one is also improving steadily and exceeding my own expectations.
In the next sections, I’ll go over our Chinese journey and hopefully it could be of some useful reference for the readers here.
[時機] – Timing
學教育的我, 很相信時機成熟才能開始教學。兩個孩子都是在上幼稚園能認ABC才開始教字。在那之前,我們都在公園的沙堆裡打滾、免費的Mommy and Me玩, 甚至, 一歲時只有睡前故事（還常常聽一半走掉）兩歲時早晚各一個, 如果她們拉著我講, 就再給她們講幾個這樣過著, 一直到三四歲, 他們來到聽故事的巔峰, 一週就會聽完50個故事。
With a background in Education, I believe in the right timing for exposing your children to learning different things. We didn’t learn to read characters until the kids started learning ABCs in kindergarten. Before that, we were always out and about and going to Mommy and Me classes. When they were one, we only had bedtime stories and even then, they sometimes ran off with only having heard half a story. The time when they started being interested more in reading stories was two and I would always oblige to their request if they wanted to listen to more. This lasted until maybe about age three to four when we reached a peak in listening to stories. We can read up to 50 story books a week.
我不會說他們是餵故事長大的孩子, 但只要他們拉著我的衣襬想聽故事, 我從沒要他們等待過, 對那時帶孩子就是工作的我來說, 沒有什麼比想聽故事的孩子更重要的事, 是我最珍視的一件事, 一定放下手邊的鍋鏟和麵糰，給她們講一個。連生完老二，老大帶著書和爸爸來探視我, 央求我講, 當時打了硫化鎂的我,意識還不清楚,也信口胡謅了一個給她聽。
I wouldn’t say they grew up with being swarmed with stories but if they ever tugged on my shirt for one, I always happily and readily available. I treated taking care of the kids as a real job and took it seriously. Nothing was more important than them wanting to hear some stories. To me, the most important thing I did was to be able to drop everything I was doing when they asked for a story. Even right after we delivered the second baby, when the older one came to the hospital to visit me with my husband and asked for a story, I still obliged. I was still half conscious from the sedative at the time but I still remember babbling some story for her.
講故事, 就真的是講故事, 沒有試過一個字一個字指、也沒有問過孩子對於內容的理解與記憶, 只高高興興地問她們：喜歡這個故事嗎？給這個故事幾顆星星呢？
I didn’t have many books back then and used the library quite often. Our library had many English picture books which I translated into Chinese for the kids. When I read stories, I just read the stories and I didn’t point to any of the words and never asked them the meaning of the story. I’ve only asked them if they enjoyed the story and how many stars they would rate it. I only wanted the kids to feel that reading is a very enjoyable moment.
起初我教孩子象形字，認為這樣能記得快又多；老大認了200多字以後, 一不複習就忘了。我開始懂得孩子是這樣的：記得快、但也忘得快。必須要不斷地給孩子複習才行！於是我自己做了很多教具讓她練習, 同時加上注音, 慢慢地從兩個字、三個字、一句話、字少繪本開始慢慢前進。搭配的是很受歡迎的基礎漢字500, 孩子很快學完200字。
I first started the kids with characters that were derived from pictures since I believe those are easier to pick up. After my older one studied about 200 of them, I found out without review or repetition, she forgot them just as quickly. They it pick up fast but they always forget fast so we must always remember to have them review and review! Then I started to create my own material for review and we started learning zhuyin (phonetic assistance) and built up our reading from two words to three to a full sentence and then short picture books. We also used Sage 500 at this time and the kids quickly finished learning the first 200 characters.
第三冊開始, 字不再那麼口語生活化, 孩子記得越來越差。我又故技重施, 製作遊戲教具想讓她記得, 然而這次依舊成效不彰。
感受到自己的壓力會影響孩子, 我決定暫時放下漢字500。我們每天一起拼讀，就只專注在讀中文書上, 她讀一句、我讀一句；她讀一面、我讀一面, 半年後她能獨立讀完橋樑書時, 重新拾起漢字500的第三冊, 她順利的完成500字。
From the third book, the characters weren’t as easy to memorize as the sentences became less and less everyday language, they slowed down in progress. This is when I made some games to help them remember. However, these were ineffective as well. I felt immense stress and was afraid this would affect the kids so I decided to stop doing Sage 500 temporarily. We went back to pure reading and we took turns reading lines and then took turns reading pages. After six months, after they are able to independently read a bridge book by themselves, we restarted Sage and then she completed the curriculum.
為了早點達到我的目標, 增進更多的詞彙, 我開始把詞彙挑出來在閱讀前給她解釋, 她很排斥,一點也不喜歡我在短短時間內給她塞進大量的知識, 所以我只能放棄。等待適當的時機到來，等了整整一年, 她終於開始讀神奇樹屋, 一看就是整套、然後羅德達爾, 奠下了很是厚實的基礎。她現在七歲, 最近迷上漢聲拇指文庫, 用字遣詞都很優雅, 最近與她共讀, 發現她懂的比我想像還多還好（地窖、毫髮無傷、愁雲慘霧這類的詞語都能理解）這是我放下虎鞭, 感受到女兒自己獨立成長的驕傲。
To have the children reach the goals I’ve set for them faster, I’ve started to go over phrases with them prior to reading to explain. She really didn’t respond well to the overload in phrases at one sitting so I gave up on that. I waited again for the right timing. After a year, she finally started to read Magic Tree House and she finished the entire set in blazing speed. The next set was Roald Dahl and laid down a solid foundation. Now she is seven and is currently obsessed with 漢聲拇指文庫, a set that uses beautiful literary terms. I have recently realized she now knows more than I thought so I’ve let go quite a bit because she’s grown to be an independent reader.
What I’ve learned is that children will let us know how to educate them. We just need to slow down and listen to them and connect to understand them better.
如果可以, 我也想給孩子一間中文圖書館, 但是一個窮留學生家庭, 無論預算或空間都有限，只能選擇把最好的留在我家。住在華人很多的南加, 附近城市的圖書館都擁有不錯的中文圖書、台灣網路上的圖書、與附近的媽媽戰友們分批購買共享資源, 都是我們使用的方式。總而言之, 大量的借閱、閱讀, 不一定要買很多書, 但需要時時處在都是有書讀的環境裡, 所以我依據原則1. 分類購買 2. 喜歡到不行會重複讀的3. 經典書 購買了一些書。
If I had a choice, I would give my children a library. Due to financial resources as well as space, I’ve only selected what I feel are the best to keep at home. We live in an area in Southern California with a plethora of libraries and resources for Chinese books. It doesn’t matter if you borrow, buy, and even if you don’t have a lot of books, the most important thing is to have the environment to fall in love with reading. I follow two general rules which is 1) split your buying into categories 2) buy the ones you’ll repeat over and over and 3) buy some classics.
從一個虎媽級別降格，我能貢獻的不多。但是唯有一點一直都沒有錯, 即便是現在, 兩個孩子各在自己的書中優游, 但仍然喜愛我與她們共讀, 聽我說說中文的可愛與生動, 一起扮演書中的角色對話（順便練無注音）這是我僅有的、能與你們分享的經驗。
After having given up being a tiger mom, I found I didn’t contribute too much. The only thing that has stayed is their love to read with me, act out the the story lines (and practice reading with no zhuyin). This is my experience I have to share with you.
而這幾年走來, 最大的收穫就是聽到讀完The Year of Billy Miller後又開始讀中文版的女兒幾度掩卷告訴我：
After these few years, the biggest reward was finishing the Chinese version of “The Year of Billy Miller” (after having finished the English version) and having my daughter say:
“The Chinese version was so cute and amazingly good.”
“You didn’t have the same feeling for the English version?”
“I did but it was more intense reading the Chinese version and made me even more emotional in parts and made me more scared when it was scary in other parts. Everything was just more interesting.”
(This is the best reward for a mom like me who bit my lip unlimited times holding back my tiger mom self while teaching them Chinese — and not lose my temper.)
Below is a list of books we have read: