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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chinese Curriculum - Which one?

Chinese Curriculum - Which one to choose?

Unfortunately its complicated because I have had some customers love a certain curriculum for Learning Chinese, and another customer hates it.

Some sugestions and questions to ask:

1. Age of those learning Chinese. In my Learning Chinese Curriculum selection guide, I include suggested ages. For beginner levels they usually have the same contents for vocabulary, but the style they are presented does change.

2. Learning Style of the Student. From story based approach to Bo Po Mo to a down to earth style. It's very helpful to look at the sample pages to see which series is best for you.

3. Is there a native Chinese speaker in the house? If yes this widens your options. Some series have great teacher's guides and other expect the teacher to be fluent in Chinese.

4. Simplified or Traditional Chinese? Their are pros and cons for both. The Chinese SAT II is in both simplified and Traditional Characters. You may also want to check what your local school district is teaching and of course any tutor. If the tutor is from China they will usually prefer simplified and if from Taiwan/HK, Traditional.

6. Tutors - If using a tutor that is not structured, can you introduce structure through a Chinese Curriculum. Many parents have called me out of frustration where their kids can sing some songs in Chinese, but they feel their kids are not advancing. It's helpful to discuss which curriculum with your tutor.

7. Chinese Schools - It's so important to find the right one. A complaint I have heard is all my kid is learning is to write Characters. Chinese School Finder for the US and Canada

8. Learning Chinese Resources area. Lots of great articles and resources.

9. Pinyin Vs. Bo Po Mo - Champion Chinese is great for Teaching Bo Po Mo. This is another sticky issue with pros and cons on each side.

Some observations:

1. If your a non native speaker teaching Chinese to your kids the products from Better Chinese have a great amount of support with teachers guides and more. My First Chinese Words. There are related series for older kids such as My First Chinese Reader for ages 7-11 and Discovering Chinese for ages 12+. The advantage of the Better Chinese products is they have a huge amount of support material.

2. Other parents prefer different styles of Learning Chinese. Practical Chinese is a very down to earth method that I highly recommend for teaching by a native speaker/reader. And since the CD is separate, many native speakers save a bit by not buying the CD.

3. Others prefered a more polished series such as Chinese Made Easy and Chinese Made Easy for kids (color illustrations, graphics are very professional). A complaint of some is the textbooks always include the CD. Another complaint by some teachers is they should remove the word kids, since older students don't like to study textbooks with that in the title. Chinese Made Easy for kids focuses more on the verbal area and has more exercises. Chinese Made Easy includes more of the learning characters.

4. Kuaile Hanyu is great for Middle School students and I have had adults buy it. It's designed for Middle School students and very well done. I especially like the CD Roms (great price) and can be bought separately.

5. New Practical Chinese Reader is very popular for adults Learning Chinese. A new textbook by the author of Practical Chinese is Daily Chinese, aimed at adults learning Chinese.

Note! Always take a look at the sample pages before selecting a Chinese Curriculum. All of the above are very popular, but it's important to get the right textbook for your style.

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