Teach Chinese reading

How to Teach Chinese Reading

If you’re interested in teaching your child to read Chinese, this post is for you.

Little El only had Primary 1 lessons for about a month before his school closed for 3 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since there’s no news of school reopening, we’re prepared to do home learning for more months ahead.

There goes my grand plan of immersing him in a Chinese school to learn Chinese reading and writing.

And so it’s mummy’s homeschool time again.

With him being my third child, it took only a short time to put together a Chinese reading programme for him.

I’ve been taking time out from his English lessons to ramp up on Chinese reading. (He already speaks Chinese fluently at home.)

Activity Ideas (for about 3 years old & above)

Here are our simple yet effective learning activities for reading:

1. Read Chinese reader books together

2. Listen to audio recordings for the reader books

3. Go through Chinese reader book word cards + interactive activities

  • review 9 or more characters a day. 1 to 2 short sessions a day.
  • trace word cards with fingers
  • write down related phrases in BIG font on the whiteboard
  • use word cards to make phrases or sentences
  • use hands-on learning materials

4. Connect to school work (where Math & Science are also in Chinese)

5. Read Chinese story books together (he’s now into 孙悟空 Sūnwùkōng). He may also sit in during elder siblings’ reading sessions.

6. Listen to Chinese audio books (he’s now into 米小圈 Mǐ xiǎo quān) at Ximalaya app. (Our new story books are arriving. Excited!)

I also plan to let him watch Chinese movies or cartoons with Chinese subtitles.

As a work-from-home mum homeschooling three children, the above activities are intentionally simple yet effective.

Estimated time needed:

  • 15 minutes per weekday: I teach the child one-to-one.
  • 15 minutes per weekday: I play the audio files. He listens while I do something else.

Big idea — Immersion

Over a few weeks, El’s interest in reading and writing Chinese has increased tremendously.

For example, when we used the word cards to make interesting sentences, he initiated to copy a full sentence.

He is recognizing new words after each learning session. Then when we read books together, he’s happy to help read familiar words.

So as usual, the way children learn a language is straight forward — immersion.

They naturally use the language that they’re immersed in.

They read words that they are systematically taught to read.

Since school immersion is unavailable now, I replace it by offering a Chinese print- and audio-rich environment at home.

For other languages, the big idea of immersion is the same. Only the technicality of each language differs.

Since my children learn three languages (English, Chinese and Malay), I’ll share more about multilingualism another time.

Happy teaching & learning!

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2 thoughts on “How to Teach Chinese Reading”

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