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Homeschool Chinese: Build Language Fluency with Photos

Every effort you make today, and again tomorrow, will move you and your children a little farther along your bilingual journey. The small steps you take today will gradually add up over time—over days, weeks, months, and years—and largely determine the distance you travel.  There are many things you can do, right now, to help nurture your children’s language development, whatever your target language. One of our favorites is looking at old family photos and talking about them together.  As we do so, I prompt the kids to describe what they see and share their memories.

A year ago, we began doing so in Mandarin.  It started when Shawn Laoshi had assigned Meili the task of finding a family photograph and writing down a few sentences to describe it for homework.  At the time, we had also recently taken part in our first stamp show.  Meili thereby selected a photo of her and her brother with their stamp mentor talking about their first Philatelic exhibits.

She emailed the photo to Shawn along with a few sentences to describe what she could in the photograph. In class, he prompted her to provide more details by asking questions and making observations of his own. When the written description was complete, they began work on the dialogue.

For a couple of class sessions, they worked on reading aloud the written description.  They then practiced presenting it, focusing on clarity and fluency.  For homework, he would ask her to read it aloud and record herself with the Voice Memo app on the iPhone.  The result you see here took a couple weeks to complete.

Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

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