Progress! 10 chapters down, 10 to go.

Time is passing so quickly, and I can hardly keep up with Rosie’s Chinese learning abilities.

She’ll often ask me, “What is this is Chinese?”

Sometimes I’ll say, “I don’t know.”

“Oh, it’s this:______________” And then she’ll make up her own word for it, complete with tones.

So that’s my cue to hurry it up, lest she make up her own language out of impatience.



Good news! I’m about half way done. I’m planning on having the first book be 15 chapters with 5 mini-review chapters (so 20 chapters total). I shooting for end of year for this to be available for everyone.

It’s been quite an adventure, with some chapters proving to be so fun and easy to learn while others seem like pulling teeth. Rosie has been amazing in giving me subtle feedback – like in the “Colors and Clothing” chapter, she inspired me to add the vocabulary word, “pink,” because that was her favorite color, and how dare it wasn’t in the lesson.

But it’s coming along and evolving! Thanks to this little tester:







Learning Chinese Through Music

3X7A0045I’ve strived to vary the methods that my child learns her Chinese. Sometimes it’s games, sometimes it’s reading stories, sometimes it’s role play, and sometimes…it’s music! Music has a magical effect on people – it’s less effort to learn lyrics or words when put to rhyme and song, plus it makes language learning more fun.

I remember feeling so frustrated trying to learn Spanish in my 8th grade Spanish class, but I felt a certain amount of pride when I could sing smoothly and fluently:

Chocolate caliente

Chocolate por favor….

It was a packet of Spanish that I felt I could master.

Fast forward many years, and I find my child feeling frustrated at forgetting dialogues or vocabulary words. I needed to give her something that she could learn and recite and feel fluent for once, instead of getting tangled with words.

The following video is a culmination of her efforts last year – she memorized five Tang poems/songs and I am so proud of her – what’s more, she is proud of herself. It’s been good for her to be able to showcase something that was originally so hard for her, and so her motivation to continue learning increases.

This video can also be a learning guide for those who want to learn the songs as well. The pronunciation is not perfect, but  I’ve included the characters and pronunciation with the songs.


P.s. How, you might ask, did I get her to learn these songs? It was a simple, repeat after me, line by line with simple actions. Usually, she bumbles along or doesn’t sing for the first few lessons and I feel like a failed teacher. Then, one day and without prompting, she will bust out the whole song from beginning to end. Does any one else’s child learn this way?


My Inspiration to Teach Chinese

Out of nowhere, inspiration to teach Chinese came to me. At that time, my daughter was speaking English a lot, but not really interested in speaking Chinese with me. I felt discouraged and resigned to having her be a repeat of me: a Chinese person who grew up not speaking Chinese. Then I heard a talk from one of the leaders of my church called The Language of the Gospel. His words touched my heart to not only be better about teaching my child about the scriptures and the gospel, but also about teaching my child a language that was dear to me: Chinese.

The most impactful part of the article for me was this:

“One factor that influences language loss is when parents don’t spend time teaching their children the native language. It is not enough to merely speak the language in the home. If parents desire to preserve their language, it must be taught. Research has found that parents who make a conscious effort to preserve their native language tend to succeed in doing so.”

Before that point, I’d only been trying to speak the language to my child. When she was little, it worked! We had little two-word conversations in Chinese and she mostly understood when I spoke Chinese to her. But as her speaking abilities approved, my confidence in being able to keep up in Chinese declined. Pretty soon, all of her Chinese abilities had dissolved.  This article gave me hope, because I knew I had to do more than just speak the language to her casually, I needed to make a conscious effort to teach!

Now, at just a few months after I started making lessons and teaching my child Chinese, I can’t believe the improvement she has made. About half of her food requests are in Chinese, and she is always asking me how to say something in Chinese. She is curious and interested and happy to learn.

Here is the full article that was my initial inspiration! I hope this can inspire others to not give up on their language learning/teaching adventure:



Never Stop Teaching

My daughter is bright, but can’t stand sitting for more than 5 minutes. She doesn’t walk, she skips. She doesn’t talk, she sings – and quite loudly. Even in her sleep, her limbs are sprawled as if she were in mid-motion. So in teaching her a language, I’ve had to be creative.

Lately, we’ve been playing a simple game in the bathtub to reinforce what we’ve been learning that week. These are bath crayons by the way, they are suppose to wipe off easily from any bath surface, and my 1-year old son thinks they’re delicious. Anyway, the game is to use bath crayons and draw vocabulary pictures on the side of the tub and call out the vocabulary words. If identified correctly, my daughter wipes the picture away. She likes wiping it away. It appeases the destructive desires in her.

The point is, when teaching a language, never stop teaching. Be it breakfast, naptime, bathtime, there is always 1-2 minutes where you can show your child the language in another context.


Young Kids Need Tiny Lessons

I did a trial run of the Lesson 1 with my 2-year old Rosie. It seemed like we were off to a good start. She was so excited to have a pencil and her own folder. She even refused to take her backpack off while taking class – she was a serious student.

We started with the vocabulary sheet and I taught her the names of family members. It was a lot of me talking and pointing and she repeating me. She was doing good until perhaps four or five minutes in, she decided my beautiful lesson was boring and to show this she tipped her head back and pretended to sleep.

I was shocked! I started with the easiest, simplest lesson and her attention was already waning. We stumbled through the dialogue, again with a lot of pointing and repeating. Her eyes were glazed over like doughnuts. Perhaps she was realizing what school was.

At about 8 or 9 minutes, I cut the lessons off. I wondered if she had learned anything!

BUT THEN! Later, while I was helping her get dressed after a bath, she fell into my arms and said the Chinese for “I love you.” That was something we had learned in the dialogue! Then it got me thinking, even though our Chinese lesson was over, the learning had just begun.

When her dad left to go to a meeting, we yelled out to him, “Bàba zàijiàn!” When we went to wake Simon up from his nap, I instructed her to say, “Dìdi, nǐhǎo.”

This continued on for a couple of days! It made made me understand that when teaching very young children, the formal sitting down and learning time must be short. Young kids need tiny lessons. But after the lesson is over, let the true learning begin!