Family Language Alive - Children Learning Chinese

Situation #4.3: Character drilling (any exercise that requests one to repeat writing a character an excessive number of times) is a major part of learning Chinese, but my child dreads it…

February 5, 2014

How children can enjoy writing their own Chinese poems

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I am no Emily Dickenson, and I know nothing much about Chinese poetry. I only know it sounds beautiful when recited from heart, and one can practically relate a story with few words. That is fascinating in itself, and I want to pass that on to my children. Here is something you can try:

  • decide on the format of the verses (is it a four-character phrase, a seven-character dual verses, a seven-character four verses?)
  • relate to the child the structure of the verse. For example, in a seven-character verse, usually the first two-character will be a concept, the second two-character forms another, and then the next three will finish the story off.
  • Decide on a theme. For this New Year, we wanted to write something about horse. So I asked the child to describe the animal. Some keywords that came to her mind: swift, gallop, eat grass peacefully, efficient
  • Since we were writing a New Year blessing, it would need some wishes. So I asked the child what wish she may want for the new year. So these came up: peaceful family, finishing up tasks
  • So now it’s just a matter of thinking up two-character and three-character concepts that can be placed by each other to make sense. The verses need not rhyme but should flow pleasingly when heard. So just keep thinking of words she knows, and you can suggest some if needed, but try to stay with what she comes up with.
  • Write each concept out on cards and play around with the orders.
  • Recite it out loud to each other until the verses sound great to her ears and makes meaning to the child.
  • Don’t compare it with standard Chinese prose. Think of it as a child merely wanting to express herself using words in a beautiful way.
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  1. It is so helpful to read this description of how to write a Chinese poem and its practical application. I wish that I could hear it! SS

    Comment by Susan Stires — February 7, 2014 @ 8:48 am

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