Homeschool Chinese: Applying Chinese Writing Skills
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we have the flexibility to travel frequently. The kids and I enjoy keeping a journal or scrapbook to chronicle our adventures while we are traveling; enclosing ticket stubs, brochures, and photographs. If time allows we also occasionally sketch animals, plants, and sites we enjoy.
Additionally, though we may be on the road, the kids are still expected to continue with their Mandarin studies. They bring along their notebooks and practice writing characters, quiz each other, and if the location permits, engage in conversations with native speakers.
We recently returned from holiday in Florida. Before our departure, however, the kids’ Mandarin teacher and I collaborated on a joint project. Rather than journal what they observed and experienced in English, they were asked to write in Mandarin.
This was a wonderful real-life application of their budding language skills. Though their sentences were simple (in comparison to the depth and detail they could have included had they written in English), they did a great job recording the essence of our trip – the rides we enjoyed, the foods we ate, and the things we saw.
They utilized vocabulary they were familiar with – and occasionally looked up words with Pleco or Google. My daughter even learned new vocabulary from some the cast members she met in China (Epcot) and I was impressed that she used it in her journal.
Our days were long and exhausting; as such I am very proud with how much detail MeiLi recorded. Here is her journal entry in its entirety:
星期三我们去了Animal Kingdom。我喜欢 Expedition Everest。我看了大象，蛇，和很多动物。我们也看了米奇老鼠。我们在吃Sanaa。我吃鸡肉和牛肉。
星期四我们去了Epcot。我喜欢Test Track。我们去了加拿大，法国，挪威，日本，美国，和中国。我们在吃Akershus Banquet Hall，哪里挪威。我吃猪肉和面包。
星期五我们去了Magic Kingdom。我的新朋友叫Marianna。一起我们喜欢Thunder Mountain。我们在吃Be Our Guest。我吃猪肉和面包。
星期六我们去Hollywood Studios。我不喜欢Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster。我们看了Fantasia。我喜欢Fantasia。我们在吃Sci-Fi Dine-In。我们吃牛肉。
星期天我们也去Magic Kingdom 和 Animal Kingdom。我看了Merida。我的弟弟喜欢Thunder Mountain。我的爸爸喜欢Space Mountain。我们在吃Animal Kingdom。
星期一我们也去Magic Kingdom 和 Epcot。我的家喜欢Test Track。 我们在吃Garden Grill。我们吃鸡肉， 鱼和面包。
我们去了Universal Studios，二个日。我喜欢Harry Potter World。我买一个wand。我的弟弟也买一个wand。我的弟弟和我不喜欢Dragon Challenge。我的妈妈，爸爸，弟弟，和我喜欢Forbidden Journey。我们去了四个趟。我的家和我爱ButterBeer。
我们也去了Jurassic Park。我们在Water Rapids很多湿。我不喜欢很小过山车和很大过山车。我喜欢中过山车。
Upon our return home, our Mandarin teacher reviewed their work; using it as an assessment of areas in which they needed improvement. It also provides him with ideas for future vocabulary lessons.