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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chinese Only, vis-a-vis Chinese English books

When I browse through Chinese bookstores, one of the things I notice is that the books for children are mostly only Chinese.

Most parents with Chinese background look for pure Chinese materials. However, there are those parents who cannot speak, more so read Chinese, but still want their kids to get ahead with Chinese as their secondary language. So I think one of the nice offerings that ChildBook has is it has Chinese-English books as well. The store caters to both families that have Chinese-speaking parents, and those that know only English.

The free learning resources, such as the coloring pictures, also has Chinese English words. Sometimes the teachers guides have 100% Chinese text, so that is another thing that parents may want to check out and see what matches their family's needs.

In our reviews, some parents want pure Chinese only books, and others want Chinese English books. We have both so I hope everybody is covered.



Blogger Leanne Franson said...

I totally agree... once one gets past the few complete beginner books, which have English and Chinese, and are VERY basic, usually with very little story, the same 5 fruits, colors, animals and people (meimei, gege, didi, jiejie, mama, baba... now what is the name for shopkeeper, postman, babysitter, neighbor, cousin?...!! esp if your child is a single child of a single parent! lol!)... there seems to be mostly chinese-only books.

I am learning chinese along with my adopted son, and even chinese-english books that have whole paragraphs, or several paragraphs per page, one in chinese, and one in English, are too hard for me. It seems there is very little between Mandy and Pandy, and Adventures of the Monkey King. In Chinese I can read at the level of perhaps "Go Dog Go" "Hop on Pop" "Are you my Mother" in the Dr. Seuss Beginner Readers, but there is so little out there for us beginner reader parents.

So much assumes that the parent is fluent in Chinese, or that they are both fluent in Chinese but the child is a beginner reader.

Another problem is English Chinese books which have no pinyin. I spent a whole day last week looking up all the traditional chinese characters (I know mostly simplified) in "Hungry Caterpillar" and writing them in pinyin once I knew their meaning, so I could pronounce it to read out loud to my son. It is timeconsuming enough to look up pinyin: guessing # of strokes and the correct radical to look up a character is daunting.

I spent another four days going through "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" in English and Trad Chin characters by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. It is very timeconsuming, and beyond the abilities of a lot of parents who want their kids to enjoy Chinese books. (btw I highly recommend kids picture books to beginner adult readers: the pictures help so much, the vocab is usually good but limited, the words high frequency, and often a lot of repetition of phrases)

Anyways thanks to Childbook for providing access to a lot of Chinese English materials for us struggling to bring up our children to be bilingual in mandarin. And here's to hoping that a lot of companies putting out "learn chinese" materials will realise we want good and fun beginner story books that take us to the next step with our kids!

Leanne in Montreal,
proud mama to Benjamin Taotao

June 3, 2009 at 6:18 PM  

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