Family Language Alive - Children Learning Chinese

Situation #3.2: I am not sure whether Chinese school is already teaching my child what there is to learn about the language…

October 2, 2010

3.2 Main Article

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Considerations:

  • What do I like about the Chinese language myself? Have I conveyed such beauty to my child in the daily conversation naturally (not didactically)?
  • What can I do to instill curiosity, motivation and passion for my child to learn the home language? Are those methods active like joining a play group or playing a game, or passive, like watching a video and writing a character repeatedly? How do my methods help or hinder her learning?
  • How can I fill in what the school cannot offer in a home environment?
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May 17, 2015

How to Teach Chinese Idioms?

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idiom

Today, one can hear more modern slangs spoken than idiomatic expressions. Even though it’s not always widely used, we still find communication through these phrases, compact but full of meaning, somehow delightfully beautiful to hear and use.

 

There are many resources already available on the market. One can easily find books and videos packed with collections of ancient idioms. We probably have a few of those on our shelves, went through a couple of pages and left them to dust. Congratulations to those who have actually finished any of those. But in reality, how many idioms have your child actually used and applied in daily conversations?

 

Let’s think backwards to reflect our process on learning an idiom:

  • Our memory is a funny thing. If we don’t use it, we lose it.
  • The child needs to use it, not just define it or making up a superficial sentence with it, but to apply it in real context.
  • The child needs to know how to apply it in real context. Have they been hearing it used in situations meaningful to them? Have we also learned and used it in our daily life with them?
  • We can use it intentionally in our daily talk, in new situations and settings.

 

Conclusion: We need to be intentional about applying Chinese idioms with our child in real contexts of our daily living. Chinese is indeed beautiful when one can communicate such heartfelt feelings with so few a word.

 

Want to learn more? Look online. Here are some examples:

 

守株待兔:  This is a very useful idiom to use when your child uses the same method again to deal other situations blindly. [more]

你上一次贏了獎, 不過, 你不可以守株待兔, 要繼續練習.

You’ve won an award last time, but you can’t just sit waiting around and expecting the same outcome. You need to continue practicing.

 

拉牛上樹: This Chinese idiom (more so Cantonese; there are other regional idioms) is used to express the extreme (almost to the point of impossible) difficulty in completing a certain skill or task. [more]

To get Tom to understand algebra is pulling teeth!
要湯姆明白代數真是拉牛上樹。

 

三番四次. This can be useful to mean “repeatedly.”

你三番四次都做錯了, 有沒有甚麼我可以幫你呢?
You have repeatedly done it wrong, is there something I can help you with?

You can also teach math (numeracy) with this idiom, along with others like “事無三不成”, “無三不成幾”, i.e. how does three, not two, nor four, form a few? You can find lots of the number THREE in idioms!

 

Did you know this idiom also appears in the bible: 三番四次 = For three…, and for four? Look up for more!

 

So intriguing… Enjoy the fun!

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