Homeschool Chinese: Simplified or Traditional?


My daughter first expressed interest in learning Mandarin when she was just five years old.  We had just begun our homeschool journey and had completed our first unit study, China upon her request.  A few months later and the 2008 Beijing Olympics were all over the media.  "Mom, I want to learn Chinese," she exclaimed.  I love languages and while I am fluent in Spanish - I had no clue how I was going to make this happen for her. We struggled through the summer trying to find resources and classes. Along the way, I discovered that some resources used traditional Chinese characters and others used what they referred to as simplified. Say what? I quickly began to feel overwhelmed. I didn't know what direction to turn so I simply began to dig - Google is my friend. :)
In the 1950s, an effort to increase the literacy rate resulted in the People's Republic of China (PRC) making the decision to simplify the written Chinese language making it easier for the general populace. Thus two distinct versions of written Chinese came into being - Traditional and Simplified Chinese. The Simplified Chinese writing system differs in two ways from the Traditional writing system: (1) a reduction of the number of strokes per character and (2) the reduction of the number of characters in common use (two different characters are now written with the same character).

With this in mind, I was leaning towards Simplified because it is commonly used in the mainland and is easier to read and write.  My thought was that she could learn Traditional later on if she so desired. The decision was essentially made for me, however, when we discovered a Mandarin immersion school locally.  The instructional materials they used were Simplified and we just stuck with it.  In fact, a few of the resources I had purchased prior to enrolling her in the immersion class were Traditional (I later sold them).

See my posts The Ki-Lin: An example of child led learning and I Love China to see how we first came to discover her passion for China.

- - - - - - - - Note: Better Chinese carries both the Simplified (简体) and Traditional (繁體) versions for our curriculum materials to fit the needs of each unique Chinese language learning classroom.

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