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Monday, May 21, 2012

Online Play Dates Online for Learning Chinese

A Mother called me today and wanted my advice about helping her kids, who are learning Chinese, with their accents. They have a Chinese tutor.

My first question was where is their tutor from? The answer was Shanghai.  Shanghai has a beautiful accent, but for teaching Chinese this means a Mainland Chinese accent (and yes, I can tell the difference from somebody from Northern Chinese, Southern China, HK, and Taiwan usually, unless they are like my wife, and change their accent depending on who they are speaking to).

Next question was what Chinese Curriculumn are they using? My First Chinese Reader by Better Chinese was the answer.  Better Chinese has a huge amount of extra material available. We also talked about the headache of different material having different accents (the three I see in materials are an American, Beijing, and Taiwananese accent - American accent is the one I would avoid if there is a choice. I have a slight preference for Taiwanese - my wife is from Taiwan, but I understand the Beijing accent is the one in demand.

Another suggestion I gave her was see about Chinese programming online, especially cartoons from Taiwan. In Southern California there is a cable channel that has some.

I also suggested look into online play dates, with kids from China who want to Learn English. This could be a win win arrangement, at no cost to either side. They kids in China get practice with English, and her kids get practice with English. I suggested she check out Craig's List, since this is world wide. For adults I know there are some free web sites that help arrange trades, but I am not sure about kids.

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