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Homeschool Chinese: Putting Skills into Practice

As the kids are getting older, they are becoming more independent learners.  This is great in many ways, but it also requires that I be more innovative in finding creative assignments for them to practice their minority language skills.  Therefore, I am constantly looking for fresh, new ways to get them to converse with one another.  These past few months, I’ve been playing around with the new Discovering Chinese Pro app and I am looking forward to incorporating it into our regular curriculum.

Each volume in Discovering Chinese Pro contains twelve lessons. The material is presented in several formats allowing students with different learning styles to choose the method that is best (with or without pinyin, with or without audio, and with or without English translations).  The student even has the choice to use simplified or traditional characters and can apply this option to specific words or the entire lesson.

Tabs across the top divide the lesson into sections that allow the learner to easily jump to the desired section:  Language NotesCulture PointsPracticeHomework, and I Can.  The practice section is split into six parts – pinyin, characters, listening, reading, speaking, and writing.   I am particularly impressed with the practice sections that focus on the students’ listening, speaking, reading (split into reading comprehension and reading challenge), and writing skills (split into grammar exercises and composition).

The activities and practice applications vary with each lesson – ensuring the students are engaged and have ample opportunity to practice their budding skills in varied contexts. One of the things I liked best are the partner and group activities.  In the speaking section of Lesson 24 “Trip to China”, students were asked to interview a friend about his/her recent trip.   Another task in the lesson asked students to pick a destination from a list of overseas trips and to create an itinerary to potential customers. As a group assignment, tasks were to be divided between students (transportation, food, activities, etc.).  In both scenarios, the students were to present it to the class.

In addition to using Discovering Chinese Pro as a tool to help me plan learning activities, I also encourage the kids to have conversations with one another.  This is turning out to be more difficult than I had anticipated because they are at different levels.  It can be problematic on occasion because they enjoy correcting one another’s pronunciation and arguments have ensued.

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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2 Responses leave one →
  1. Heidi permalink
    April 29, 2014

    Hello Eva, Thank you for your blog on Chinese. I’m SO very interested in knowing what you use (other than this new Discover Chinese Pro – which I have only just discovered too!) My daughters grew up in Hong Kong and had Mandarin classes since they were 3 but we moved back from HK and I began homeschooling them in 2011. My oldest is now 14 and heading into High School and I’m really looking for some Chinese curriculum that’s a little more in depth than “rosetta Stone” etc. ANY advice you can offer is greatly appreciated! Thank you

  2. May 12, 2014

    Nihao Heidi! It is great to hear from you. I apologize for my very delayed response. We were away on a family vacation but really, it is no excuse. My children are now 11 and 9 and we have been using My First Chinese Reader (MFCR) supplemented with materials that their instructor finds. For your oldest I would recommend Modern Chinese. Depending on the ages of your other kids, the Discovering Chinese Pro app and MFCR might be better.

    Regardless of what curriculum you choose, consistently and practice is key. Even when we are on vacation, their Mandarin teacher assigns homework (practicing characters, quizzing one another, keeping a journal in Chinese). My daughter is currently in book 3 of MFCR and my son book 2 but they still use the earlier books regularly for review; so much so the books are falling apart.

    I hope this helps. If you have further questions, I promise not to delay so long in replying. Truly, I sit here with egg all over my face.

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