The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews
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My First Chinese Words Full Set Review by Heather Vogler(Preschool/Kindergarten)
Even though I have certain curricula I have adopted into our homeschool routine, I tend to lean toward the delight-directed approach in some areas. When my eldest son expressed an interest in the mysterious world of Atlantis and the Bermuda Triangle, we took a break from the usual history lesson and studied what intrigued him. Recently, all three of my children have been drawn to the Chinese culture. Earlier this year, my eldest son was able to choose any ancient civilization to study. He picked China. He has been drawn to the art, the language, the food, and the people. One weekend, we had a Chinese missionary family staying with us. My kids were thrilled to interact with them and their son. Right about this time, we began using My First Chinese Words, a complete Chinese curriculum for young learners. Perfect timing!
The package I received is geared towards the preschool through kindergarten age group. I used a majority of the materials with all of my children, ages four, six, and seven. It absolutely engaged all three of them, but interestingly enough, my four-year-old is the one who is primarily interested in learning Chinese now! She is picking it up more quickly than her older brothers. This surprised me, especially because this curriculum is so intense. There is a lot to it. It is a treasure that I plan to hold on to (and use myself!)
At first I thought the lessons would be way over my four-year-old’s head, and some things are. But overall, I simply introduce what I can and the rest will fall into place eventually. When she is older, I may go back and go over the more difficult material. But, I will say, she is picking a lot up! We recently attended a wedding with a Chinese bride. My daughter went up to her and said, “I love my Mom,” in perfect Chinese! Needless to say, the bride was impressed. My daughter has also adopted the term “yaya” for her Grandpa (the term for grandfather); it’s quite cute.
There are two parts to this curriculum—the online program and the printed materials—and you really do need both to get the most out of it. The printed materials include a detailed teacher’s guide, 36 story books (one for each lesson), consumable worksheets, a Chinese calendar, a CD, and two exercise workbooks.
The second part of the curriculum is the online portion. This includes hours of fun! My kids love getting online and working on their Chinese with the online activities. First, there is an animated story to coincide with the storybook the kids have on hand. This helps tremendously with pronunciation. Once you hear the story read online you know how to pronounce the words in the book you have at home. Otherwise, you would be stuck with beautifully illustrated books with no clue how to properly read them! Inflection is key when it comes to Chinese. Aside from the intimidating factor of reading the Chinese characters, if you don’t have the right inflection on a word, you could be saying a completely different word than intended. The online program helps with this by providing a section with the correct pronunciation of the sounds in the Chinese (Mandarin) language.
My kid’s favorite online section was called Magical Chinese. This was wonderful! A story explains the Chinese character and the meaning behind it. It creates a memorable experience with the character and helps the child to understand the depth and richness behind this beautifully written language. There is also a place online (and in the workbooks) for the children to practice drawing the Chinese characters. This surprised a Chinese friend of mine who married an American. She said she wasn’t planning on teaching her son the characters because they are so hard, but when she saw this program she was impressed.
This program has so much to it I couldn’t possibly include it all in this review. My children have been able to send Chinese e-cards, listen to stories, practice their speaking, and so much more. Five stars for My First Chinese Words! I consider myself blessed to own this product and highly recommend it for anyone hoping to expose their children to this language. If you keep up with it, I’m sure you will see positive results, as I already have!
-Product review by Heather Vogler, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2015