Learning How to Introduce Yourself in ChineseMy First Chinese Reader, Volume 1: Lessons 1 to 3
My 6-year old son started in My First Chinese Reader, Volume 1 in August of this year, after a year of work with his tutor on reading pinyin and his pronunciation skills. They had worked through the book Pinyin for Everyone!, as well as another curriculum that was designed specifically for Chinese speakers and their children. He was therefore comfortable with the vocabulary introduced in the first lesson.
As he began to use Volume 1, our focus was on conversational skills and overcoming the invisible barrier that so often prohibits new language learners from speaking with native speakers. Lesson 1 teaches the basic greetings: 你好 (hello!) and 再见 (goodbye!) phrases. Then we move into introducing our names in Lesson 2. Lesson 3 teaches how to communicate your age. This is also the lesson where all the numbers are introduced, which is a lot of fun. Here's an example of a page from Lesson 2 textbook:
Over the past year, he has done a variety of activities both with his tutor and at home. For each lesson, he makes a set of flash cards - 3 cards for each vocabulary word introduced (Mandarin, Pinyin, and English). He then uses these cards to play matching games independently. In class, his tutor incorporates a variety of games to review material. One of my son's favorite games is called Climb the Mountain. Teacher / Lǎoshī (老师) asks a question (for example, "What does 'nihao' mean, Jiéjié?" "How do you say 'good-bye' in Chinese?" "What does this character, '我' mean?") and if answered correctly, Jié jié gets 5 points and takes a step up the mountain. If answered incorrectly, he loses 5 points and takes a step down the mountain.
Other activities have included bingo and physically active games where Jiéjié is instructed in Mandarin to take four steps forward. We've come to discover that my son enjoys games that enable him to move around. My daughter, on the other hand, prefers projects that allow her to integrate her language skills in a variety of ways - both written and orally.
Even after four years of lessons, however, my daughter is still timid and reluctant to speak in Mandarin when she has the opportunity. Breaking down this wall is one of the goals that our tutor and I share for the kids. When he introduces new vocabulary, we work hard to integrate it into our daily conversations as well as in our lessons.
Above is a sample of a recent practice conversation between the two of them utilizing the vocabulary from the first few lessons of My First Chinese Reader, Volume 1 . My son is now able to introduce himself, say how old he is, and ask someone what their name and age are. If you listen carefully to the video and learn your Chinese numbers (lesson 3), it gives away how old I am.