Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Create Your Own Handwriting Sheets-Chinese Vocabulary Book

Create Your Own Handwriting Sheets-"Chinese Vocabulary Book" is FREE!  It's a very basic worksheet generator, but is worth posting because it offers teachers the option of including the
注音符號 with traditional characters or the 漢語拼音 (Hànyǔ Pīnyīn) with simplified characters. Each worksheet will contain rows for tracing and rows for copying.

This link is from Chinese Normal University.


Here's a sample worksheet of numbers 1-5:
Worksheet注音符號
Worksheet- 漢語拼音 (Hànyǔ Pīnyīn)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Create Your Own Handwriting Sheets-Hanzi Grids

Create Your Own Handwriting Sheets-"Hanzi Grids" provides leveled membership.  That means it provides access to the website with many features as free.  However, you can upgrade by paying membership.  This is a very neat website.  It has several features including:
  • Control of spacing between characters grids/boxes,
  • Control of the size of the characters within each grid/box,
  • The option of using either traditional or simplified characters, and
  • Control of whether the Learner is copying or tracing the character (slide the "Visible Characters").


Here's a sample worksheet of numbers 1-10:

Friday, September 28, 2012

Halloween Vocabulary & Halloween Bingo

I know that Halloween is not a traditional Chinese holiday, but it's a plethora of vocabulary that kids will enjoy learning.  And, because stores start advertising Halloween in September, they'll have lots of opportunities to practice the vocabulary!  So, if your planning on introducing this topic, here's some flashcards and a Bingo game to get you started.

*Note- Consider cutting out the flashcards and posting them around your house, pocketing them when going for a walk, and even keeping a set in your car.  This way if you see a Halloween decoration or costume, you'll be able to talk about it using your new vocabulary!  Also, I've created 6 Bingo boards below.  If you need more, have Learners cut out their own flashcards and tape them to a blank sheet to create an infinite number of boards.

Flashcards- traditional characters with 注音符
Flashcards- simplified characters with 漢語拼音 (Hànyǔ Pīnyīn)
Bingo- traditional characters with 注音符
Bingo- simplified characters with 漢語拼音 (Hànyǔ Pīnyīn)
Bingo- no characters

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tangrams



Looking for some cultural activities that your young child can participate in?  Check out Activity Village's tangram page.  There is a pattern you can print to make your own tangram set and several fun tangram patterns you can puzzle out!

Want to know how to say "tangram" in Chinese?
- 七巧
- 七巧板 (qī qiǎo bǎn)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Culture Kits

If you live near a university with an international program or a well-funded library, ask if they have Culture Kits available.  These are simply tubs of materials that are about a particular culture.  A Chinese Culture Kit might include realia such as:  traditional rice steamers, chopsticks, paper lanterns, traditional toys, and jewelry.  Each Culture Kit typically also provides an Information Sheet listing facts about the items in the kit.

If you live near Iowa City, the international program at the University of Iowa has several Culture Kits that can be checked out for two-weeks.  There is a 5 kit maximum.  Below are some links that direct you to the Culture Kits available at UI.
Home page for Culture Kits
List of kits searched by keywords:  China, Chinese, Taiwan, Asia

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chinese Character Art

Here is a wonderful video/piece of artwork that displays the beauty of Chinese characters!

Games in the Foreign Language Classroom

Stuck for ideas about how to keep your kids' attentions on your lesson?  Here is a website with a list of wonderful games to play with children learning a foreign language.  Have a look and see what might work in your classroom or family!



Games in the Foreign Language Classroom

Monday, July 9, 2012

LingoSpring Chinese Memory Game

LingoSpring was developed by an entrepreneur to help Chinese Language Learners practice recognizing characters. As you've probably guessed from the post's title, LingoSpring is a new twist on Memory.  Aside from the typical settings you would expect from a Chinese-based game like this, there is also a setting that allows you match simplified characters to their traditional counterpart!

LingoSpring will allow you to create your own personalized word list.  However, it also comes with a built-in character list arranged by frequency of use.  This is wonderful because if you have a student who has just started learning Chinese, you can quickly access beginning-level characters and jump right into playing. 

Inside each game of Memory is the ability to add a character to a "Focus List."  This is your personalized list of words that you want to review more closely.  Once you have a minimum of 12 characters in this list, you can play a game that randomly selects 12 characters from this list to play memory with or study.

Monday, April 16, 2012

36 Strategies or 36 Chinese Idioms

HuaYu World- This company has provided 36 Chinese idiom stories for free!  These stories provide an explanation for why certain phrases are said the way they are said.

You can choose to read the story or listen to it in Chinese.  You can read the story using either traditional Chinese characters with ㄅㄆㄇ or in English.  To view a story in English-- after following the link above, click on one of the 36 idiom stories and then choose the "ABC" button on the left side.  At the end of the story is an explanation of how the idiom relates to the story.

If that wasn't enough, the company has also created beautiful pdf's that include both the Chinese characters/ㄅㄆㄇ and the English translations.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mini-Book 5- 我是 . . . .


我是 . . . . (Wǒ shì . . ., I am . . .)- This is the fifth book in the series.  To locate other Mini-Books, click on the "Mini-Book" label on the right hand side of the web page.

The fifth Mini-Book is designed to reinforce the use of 我是 . . . . (Wǒ shì . . ., I am . . .).  It also continues to expose the reader to common characters in order to reinforce character recognition.

This Mini-Book was created to be personalized by your child.  Please, take the time to paste photos of them into the books.  This makes reading more fun for your child and encourages them to practice reading.  Also, when you print be sure to print on both sides of the paper.  Page 2 prints on the back of page 1, etc.  Then stack the pages so that when they are folded along the center line, the page numbers proceed in numeric order.

我是 . . . . - traditional characters with 注音符
我是 . . . . - simplified characters with 漢語拼音 (Hànyǔ Pīnyīn)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pinyin Pronunciation Guide- Learn Chinese ABC

Check out this website by Learn Chinese ABC.  It provides a brief introduction to the history of pinyin development and also provides in-depth and accurate information about how to pronounce these sounds.  The description of each sound is complimented with an animated video of the articulators (teeth, lips, palates, and tongue).  This allows you to see exactly how to position your tongue for each sound.  In addition, there is also written step-by-step instructions to follow and video of a native-speaker as they say the individual sounds.

To access the free site, click on the link above and then use the topics along the left-hand side.  This site is a little visually overwhelming, but if you take the time to accustom yourself to it you will find it is a wealth of information.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tips for Better Pronunciation and Reading

Need some tips for better pronunciation.  Here is some of what I've learned about tongue placement in Chinese sounds.
  • b, p, m, and f- are all produced at the front of the mouth
    • b, p, and m- are similiar to English and made with the upper and lower lip coming together.
    • f- is a fricative and is made with the upper front teeth gently touching the lower lip.
  • d, t, n, and l- are all produced by placing the tip of the tongue behind the upper front teeth.
    • d and t- are plosives, meaning that the air is initially prevented from coming out of the mouth because the tongue is firmly against the top of the mouth.  Then the tongue tip relaxes and the sound is released.  This is very similar to the sounds "d" and "t" in English.
    • n- much like the English "n," the sound comes out the nose.
    • l- much like the English "l," the tongue tip is against the top of the mouth and the sound comes out around the sides of the tongue tip.
  • g, k, and h- are all produced in the back of the mouth.
    • g and t- are plosives, meaning that the air is initially prevented from coming out of the mouth because the back of the tongue is firmly against the top of the mouth.  Then the tongue relaxes and the sound is released.  This is very similar to the sounds "g" and "k" in English.
    • h- much like the English "h."
  •  j, q, and x- are all produced by touching the tip of the tongue to the back of the lower, front teeth.
    • j and q- are affricatives meaning that the sound produced is caused by stopping the airflow at the place of articulation- in this case between the tongue and the roof of the mouth- and then continuing to let the air flow out for an extended time through a narrow opening between the articulators.
    • x- is a fricative, which allows the air to slid gently between the tongue and the palate.
  • zh, ch, sh, r- are all produced by rolling the tongue back in the mouth.  In English an r-sound can be produced in two ways (one of which is by rolling the tongue); however, in Chinese the r-sound must be made by a retro-flexed (rolled) tongue.
  • z, c, and s- are all produced by placing the tip of the tongue behind the upper front teeth.  They are all affricatives meaning that the sound produced is caused by stopping the airflow at the place of articulation- in this case between the tip of th tongue and the mouth just behind the upper front teeth- and then continuing to let the air flow out for an extended time through a narrow opening between the articulators.
 *Please, remember I'm not a native speaker; however, I do hold a MA in Speech Pathology.  The tips above primarily concentrate on tongue position.  There are other differences in pronunciation, but they are much more difficult to master.  Concentrating on the tips above in combination with the Learning Mandarin for Beginners app will help you achieve intelligibility, but you'll still have an accent.




A few notes about reading and writing:
  • y- 
    • When a word begins with "i," change the "i" to a "y."
      • ia--> ya
      • ie --> ye
      • iao --> yao
      • iou --> you
      • ian --> yan
      • iang --> yang
      • iong --> yong
    • BUT . . .
      • in --> yin
      • ing --> ying
  • w- 
    • When a word begins with "u," add "w" before the "u." 
      • u --> wu
    • When a word starts with "u" and is followed by a additional letters, change the "u" to a "w."
      • ua --> wa
      • uo --> wo
      • uai --> wai
      • uei --> wei
      • uan --> wan
      • uen --> wen
      • uang --> wang
      • ueng --> weng
  •   ü-
    • To pronounce this, start by saying the English sound "eeeee" (like in "eel").  While keeping your tongue in the same place, move your lips to form the English sound "oooo" (like in "moon").
    •  Always place a "y" in front of words starting with the "ü" sound and remove the umlaut (the two dots).
      • ü --> yu
      • üe --> yue
      • üan --> yuan
      • ün --> yun   

Learning Mandarin for Beginners & Pinyin Pronunciation HD

These apps, developed by Kotech Services Co., are exactly what's needed for anyone learning pinyin.

The first app, Learning Mandarin for Beginners, is an excellent program for teaching how to pronounce the pinyin sounds.  The user can select either an initial (beginning) or final (end) sound.  Then the viewer is taken to a screen that displays an video of how to produce the sound.  The video is an animated cross-section of the articulators (palates, lips, teeth, and tongue) so it is easy to see what is happening inside the mouth to make these Chinese sounds.  This is particularly important because often foreign language learners cannot hear differences in foreign sounds.  This app provides a visual context that allows the user to see how the sounds are produced differently.  Once foreign language learners can produce the difference in the sounds, they can begin to hear the difference in other speakers, which in turn allows for better comprehension during conversation.


As you navigate this app, pay particular attention to the positioning of the tongue in each video.  The slight differences between placement of the tip of the tongue is important.  For example, note if the tongue is placed behind the upper front teeth (as in the sound "s") or behind the lower front teeth (as in the sound "x").  The difference in placement is difficult to see, but it is there.  It would be nice if the developers would provide a written description of how the sound is pronounced to go with the animated video.  Until then, you can look here for access to more information about pronunciation.


The second app, Pinyin Pronunciation HD, is the follow up guide to the first app.  In Pinyin Pronunciation HD, the user can quickly select a initial, final, & tone and then listen to the correct pronunciation.  Not only is the interface very easy to use (my 5 year old could do this), but this app only allows you to make legitimite initial-final-tone combinations.  This allows observant users to see the pattern of rules that create legal combinations of sounds.  For example, the user might observe that "q" can only be combined with finals that begin with the letters i or ü.

I recommend buying these apps together as they compliment each other very well.  I've looked for similar free resources online but have been disappointed with the interface as the resources online tend to be very clumsy.  These apps are definitely worth the 0.99¢ each app costs and will allow you to have access to them wherever you go as they don't require internet access to utilize the apps after downloading.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fun Books to Read

Toon Book has a collection of books in English and foreign languages including Chinese.  There is no pronunciation guide, so readers must be strong in character recognition.  However, some of these books don't require much vocabulary beyond one or two semesters at the university level.  A parent with such a background could easily read at least a couple of these books while encourage a child to read the characters he/she knows.

12 Happy-Chinese Pinyin Lessons

This website has a list of the "12 Happy-Chinese Pinyin Lessons."  The audio is O.K.  The downside of these lessons is that the examples they give you to help you to remember each pinyin sound is based on Chinese.  For example, to teach you the sound for "ü," they tell you it's the same sound as the word for "fish" in Chinese.  So this lesson set may be more helpful to children who already speak Mandarin at home and are learning the writing system.  However, for those of you who are learning Chinese as a foreign language, go ahead and take a look at this site.  There is lots of repetition of the sounds and it is always spoken in correspondence with the pinyin so you can still practice connecting the pinyin with the correct sound.

Pinyin Alphabet

Here is a video with great audio that shows the pinyin as it sings the pinyin alphabet.  I did see one misspelling; around 1 minutes and 30 seconds into the video it tells you the pronunciation for "üu."  However, the spelling should instead be "ün."  If someone disagrees with this assessment, please let me know in the comments.

Learning Pinyin

My favorite site for practicing pinyin pronunciation and tones was www.studypond.com; however, it seems that site has been discontinued.

I've been looking for a new site that does an equivalent job of explaining and providing examples.  The next best site that I have found so far is http://www.learnchineseabc.com/chinese-pinyin-system.htm.  It breaks down the processes of learning pinyin into manageable steps.  It also provides examples of each of the sounds individually, within a word, and with each of the possible tones.  What is unique about this site is that it provides a video of what the articulators (teeth, tongue, palates, and lips) are doing during pronunciation.  The only downside is that the website was written by a non-native English speaker and you must sometimes figure out the intention of the sentences as the meaning is not always clear; however, examples are abundantly provided.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Guess Who- Faces














Here's a fun little game that can be used in several different ways.  I've listed them in order based on Chinese skill level with the easiest being first and the hardest one listed last.

You could adapt this game to practice just about any adjectives/description-words in combination with any appropriate objects/nouns.  In the pre-made board below, I focused on the following vocabulary:
  • Body Parts
    • 眼睛 (yăn jīng, eyes)
    • 鼻子 (bí zi, nose)
    • 嘴吧 (zuĭ ba, mouth)
    • 耳朵 (ěr duo, ears)
    • 頭髮 (tóu fa, hair)
  • Descriptive Words (Adjectives)
    • Colors
      • (hóng sè, red)
      • 黃色 (huáng sè, yellow)
      • 綠色 (lǜ , green)
      • 藍色 (lán sè, blue)
      • 黑色 (hēi sè, black)
    • Short/Long  
      • (duǎn, short (for hair))
      • (cháng, long(for hair))  
    • Big/Little

      • (dà, big)
      • (xiǎo, little)
    • Shapes
      • 彎彎的 (wān wān de, bent/curvy)
      • 圓圓的 (yuán yuán de, circle/round)
      • 方方的 (fāng fāng de, square)
      • 尖尖的 (jiān jiān de, pointed)
  • Grammar
    • I also created some faces with missing body parts in order to provide an opportunity for my kids to practice the 有沒 (yŏu méi yŏu, have/don't have) grammar structure that they have already practiced.

After you have learned several adjectives and body parts you are ready to play this game of Guess Who.  The board I created practices body parts, shapes, short/long, small/big, and have/doesn't have.

1.  The teacher describes a body part and the student points to a face that matches the description.  Use the pre-made board from below.  This level allows the student to hear the Chinese vocabulary and associate it with the correct picture.  Use this level if your student is too young to draw accurately.
2.  The teacher describes a body part and the student draws that body part.  Use the blank board from below.  This level allows the student to hear the Chinese vocabulary and associate it with the correct picture.
3.  The student describes a body part (blue eyes) and the teacher draws that body part.  Use the blank board from below.  This level allows the student to practice basic vocabulary without any focus on grammar.
4.  Like "Guess Who," the student secretly chooses a face from the pre-made board.  The teacher asks questions to try to determine which face the student picked.  This level allows the student to hear how to formulate questions in Chinese and models the vocabulary.
5.  Like "Guess Who," the the teacher secretly chooses a face from the pre-made board.  The student asks questions to try to determine which face the teacher picked.  This is the hardest level because the student must ask the question using Chinese.  (The teacher might choose to focus just on the target vocabulary and not worry about the student getting the Chinese grammar correct.  Instead, the teacher can model the correct model back to the student before answering the question.)

Guess Who- Faces, Blank Board
Guess Who- Faces, Pre-made Board

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mini-Book 4- 妹妹和哥哥


妹妹和哥哥 (Mèimei hé gēgē, Little Sister and Older Brother)- This is the fourth book in the series.  To locate other Mini-Books, click on the "Mini-Book" label on the right hand side of the web page.

The fourth Mini-Book is designed to reinforce the use of 和 (hé, and).  It also includes common everyday actions such as 吃早飯 (Chī zǎofàn, Eating breakfast) and 去學校 (Qù xuéxiào, Going to school).

This Mini-Book is a large file (35kb) so give it time to load.  It is larger than the others because it includes photos.  Please feel free to paste your own photos over these so that your Mini-Book is personalized to your children.  Also, when you print be sure to print on both sides of the paper.  Page 2 prints on the back of page 1, etc.  Then stack the pages so that when they are folded along the center line, the page numbers proceed in numeric order.

妹妹和哥哥- traditional characters with 注音符
妹妹和哥哥- simplified characters with 漢語拼音 (Hànyǔ Pīnyīn)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hot and Cold Game

In the familiar version of this game, an object is hidden from one child and his friends watch him/her bumble around the room trying to find it.  The friends give the person who is "It" clues such as "You're getting warmer" when the person is getting closer to finding the object, and clues like "You're freezing" when the person who is "It" is very far away.

In this Chinese classroom version, one child is still "It" but instead of his/her friends giving clues such as hot/cold, the friends chant the name of the object hidden (or of the target vocabulary word on a hidden flashcard).  As the person who is "It" gets closer to the hidden object/flashcard, the children chant louder and louder.  And as the person who is "It" gets farther away, the children chant softer and softer.

What a great game to get the kids to practice saying the target vocabulary!  Kids remember better when they are having fun!  Also, this is a nice game for helping quiet kids find their voice in the classroom.

I must acknowledge that Nicholas O'Brien, from Kalona Elementary, Iowa showed me this game (here's his blog).

Clapping Game

Clapping Game- Here is a wonderful game to use with young kids who are learning new vocabulary.  What's really nice about this game is that every kid can participate at the same time and they are all actively engaged in the activity.  In addition, this is a great way to encourage children to say new vocabulary several times (which can help them memorize the target).  Not to mention, this is a great way to get quiet kids to practice saying the vocabulary as well.  I picked this up from Mr. Nicholas O'Brien who is the Chinese language instructor at Kalona Elementary, Iowa (here's a link to his blog).

Here's how to play the game- Create a set of flashcards.  You can use a picture of the target vocabulary or the Chinese character.  Make sure the cards are large enough that the whole class can see the picture/character.  Show the class one of the flashcards and say the name of the picture/character.  Have the kids repeat it back to you several times.  Then ask them to chant the name as you mix the target card back into the deck.  Next, hold up one card after another.  Tell them to clap/applaud when they see the target card.