I feel very strongly that learning a foreign language takes time. In order to become fluent in a second (or subsequent) language, one must devote time to using that language daily. In our home, the kids generally meet with our language tutor twice each week for one hour sessions. They work with him independently, so they get individual attention for 2 hours each week. We initially set it up this way because when my son began Mandarin lessons, my daughter had been studying the language for a few years already and her skills were significantly advanced in comparison. At the conclusion of their lesson, their tutor then assigns each of them homework.
[caption id="attachment_1682" align="aligncenter" width="533"] Vocabulary homework "Fire - Friend or Foe?"[/caption]
Often the homework involves creating flashcards, copying characters, working on projects, and/or writing and reading assignments. The intent of the homework is to provide the kids with a framework to keep them engaged in language learning on a daily basis. If they finish the assigned work, the expectation is that they are to study their flashcards or practice writing their characters. Ideally, our goal is for them to practice Mandarin for a minimum of an hour each day (twice daily for 30 min) -- though, I must admit that I don't enforce this too often. First and foremost I want them to enjoy the process and to love learning a language. I don't want it to become burdensome or a task they dread.
In the picture above, Meili is using a variety of resources to complete her homework. On the laptop, she has a page from the book, "Fire - Friend or Foe?" / 火－朋友还是敌人 with selected vocabulary words underlined in red. She is using the iPad app, Pleco, to look up the character meaning. She does this by using her finger to draw the character and then selecting from the available character choices that pop up. She then writes the new vocabulary word down in her notebook - recording the Chinese character, the pinyin, and the meaning in English.
"Fire - Friend or Foe?" / 火－朋友还是敌人 is a book that is part of a bundle - Nature - My First Chinese Stories. The seven stories extend upon the topics found in the “My First Chinese Words” series. Each story is supplemented with controlled vocabulary, sentence structures and interactive games and exercises that add a dimension of fun to learning the language and lead to further inquiry into the topics covered. Meili / 美丽 worked with this book for a couple of weeks. I will write more about the lessons that followed in a subsequent post.