When the PAT (Parents as Teachers) teacher came to screen my twins on their growth and development, she was so impressed by their language advances.
â€œYes, they are having a language explosionâ€. I said.
My twins, Nana and Yanyan who just passed two, achieved the same language levels as their elder sister did when she was close to three. The older twin, Nana, could recognize all alphabetic letters from A-Z in English. She could count easily up to 35 in Chinese. She could name colors (though not get all right) and shapes in Chinese. And she tried to sing the songs in Chinese and English, such as â€œTwinkle Twinkle Little Starsâ€, â€œIf You Are Happy Clap Your Handsâ€ or the â€œABC songâ€.
My younger twin, Yanyan, could name most objects in her surrounding clearly in Chinese and English, such as table, chair, bed, bowl, ball, and many more. She had a good vocabulary in Chinese, on various subjects such as vegetables, fruits and animals. She could say 3-or-4 word sentences bilingually. And she likes asking â€œwhyâ€ questions in a full sentence in Chinese!
Both girls could sing a number of childrenâ€™s songs, nursery rhymes, and even simple Tang poems like â€œSpring Morningâ€.
Here is the list of resources IÂ am using to help my twins acquire Chinese (see the difference of acquiring a language and learning a language in How children acquire second languages?)
1. Chinese flashcards: Flashcards have been acknowledgedÂ by educational researchers as the fastest and easiest way to learn and remember new information. The cards can be separated and used individually or used as a book. Children can learn Chinese while they are playing with the cards.
These bilingual(English/Chinese) flash cards will have children speaking everyday Chinese in a flash. The card series feature bright, colorful and lively photos, their Chinese characters, the Pinyin (phonetic transcriptions) as well as English explanations of objects and concepts.
|Bilingual Flashcards – Animals & Vegetables (English/Chinese)||Bilingual Flashcards – Animals (English/Chinese)|
Research indicates that learning related topics together often helps memorize new vocabulary faster. I am using these flashcards to teach twins names of daily objects, animals. vegetables, fruits,Â colors, shapes , and etc. They also love to look at these books since the print is nicely produced to capture the vivid color and exceptional detail of the original.
|Bilingual Flashcards – Colors & Shapes (English/Chinese)||Bilingual Flashcards – Daily Necessities (English/Chinese)|
2. Chinese books: Needless to say, reading books to children plays a vital role in helpingÂ them acquires languages. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that parents read to their children daily from six months of age, since reading not only stimulates development of childrenâ€™s brain, but also fuels a close emotional relationship between parents and children. Reading also immersesÂ children in the target language and exposes them to a greater number and variety of words, sentences and ideas than they would otherwise hear.
I read lots of Chinese children’s books to my twins, including Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, The Adventures of Pinocchio, Sima Guang Broke the Vat, The Gigantic Turnip, Three Monks, No WaterÂ and many more.
Currently, my twins’ favorite books are Tâ€™choupiâ€™s Life Stories and Tâ€™choupiâ€™s Magical Picture Books, two popular French educational picture book series, created by French artist Thierry Courtin and published by Nathan Jeunesse. The protagonist of this book series is a curious 3-year-old-boy who looks like a penguin named Tâ€™choupi.Â These book series are also my older daughter DD’s most loves ones when she was two (see Tâ€™choupi came to China).
3. Chinese DVDs: I know most parents are against screening time. Research has suggested that young children, who spent too much time in front of a TV, computer, or video game player, develop difficulties with communication and concentration, as well as other psychological problems and obesity.
Like nothing can beÂ absolutely correct or absolutely wrong, limited â€œscreening timeâ€ can be a positive experience for children. First of all, TV programs can take children to places they normally cannot go.Â Next, childrenâ€™s shows, whether they call themselves â€œeducationalâ€ or not, may offer opportunities to spark learning, stimulate interests or provide vivid role models that are more attractive to little ones psychologically or emotionally (e.g. Dora the Explorer, Disney princesses, etc.).
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming. So how about using this limited screening time to offer educational exposure?
I let my twins watch Qiaohu DVD series (no more than one hour a day, and not everyday) to learnÂ Chinese language, math, music and social skills. They both picked up words, phrase and concepts from the show (see Qiaohu teaches children to love to learn).
4. Chinese CDs:Â Children’s songs and nursery rhythms are funÂ (e.g. â€œRub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tubâ€,) and are easy to remember. They also help your baby build phonological awareness and sensitivityâ€”the ability to hear the breakdown of sounds within words and to diagnose rhythms and patterns of languages. As he grows, learning the rhymes himself will help him expand vocabulary, learn number skills and get confidence to express himself through speech.
I always play Chinese childrenâ€™s songs and nursery rhymes as background music as they play. And I do the same thing when they ride with me in the car. I let them watch â€œQiaohuâ€ DVD and sings the same songs and nursery rhymes to enforce their memory.
|Chinese Children’s Songs (3 CDs)||ChineseÂ NurseryÂ Rhymes (3 CDs)|
5. Easy-Read Pen & audiobooks:Â Easy-Read pen is one product of E-reading pens, a pen-shaped book reader ontoÂ which audio from specific books can be downloaded. It reads aloud corresponding Chinese and/or English words, phrases, paragraphs, or dialogues when scanned across compatible images or texts of paper books, a new technique of Point and Read.
When Easy-Read PenÂ scans across book pages, either images or texts, the corresponding Chinese words, phrases, paragraphs, or dialogues are read out loudly in clear mandarin, a new technique of Point and Read (see E-reading pen: an interactive tool to learn Chinese for more details).
Easy-Read PenÂ and its compatible audiobooks help my twins learn Chinese in a fun way. And theyÂ are great replacement for screening time too.
How to help babies acquire languages? (Method 1)
How to help babies acquire languages? (Method 2)
How to help babies acquire languages? (Method 3)
How to help babies acquire languages? (Method 4)