Lucas’ desire to build his Pokeman card collection has inspired his interest to tutor in Mandarin! He came up with the idea himself and wrote the website himself!
We just love this game Rush Hour. It is challenging! It is fun! It is portable! It is hard to lose too many pieces! 🙂
Seriously, though, we love it. My son, Lucas (11) recently decided to start a Chinese tutoring class fueled in part by a desire to buy Pokeman cards (which he has yet to purchase – thank goodness) and a new-found pride in his Mandarin-speaking skills. He has used this game often during his tutoring sessions because it is a great way to explore numbers, directions and simple vocabulary while still challenging his students. His students range from 5 to 11 and so he needs to find games that will appeal to all ages — and this one is it!
Here are some colors to get you started:
brown marrón, pardo
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Why not make use of your Advent House for something other than waiting for Santa to come? We use this magical little house to explore numbers in a second language in a fun and challenging way!
Not sure where to get an Advent House? Amazon has a ton of great ones! Check them out here:
Four Game Variations: Print out these number PDF pages below (numbers from 1 – 25) and cut them out. Scatter them in front of your Advent house and set a timer on your phone.
Print Outs of Numbers 1-25:
Print Out of Numbers 1-31 (if you are crazy like us and have a Halloween Countdown)
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Use Your Library for Free Language Resources
Right now, we use Rosetta Stone as our French curriculum (we once had Rosetta Stone for Greek, but that, along with my computer, got destroyed in a Rosetta Stone, both from a user’s perspective and as a parent. Its immersion-style of learning mimics the way we naturally learn languages, so you quickly gain a certain level of fluency. And for the kids, it’s nice to have a program that they can do entirely on their own. However, it is not cheap (although you can often find it up to 40% off, so make sure you price check before you buy), and if you want practice to grammar or writing, Rosetta Stone isn’t really structured to provide that kind of instruction.
For our other foreign languages (Spanish and Greek), we don’t have any “official” program. My intention was to wait and slowly add more languages to my Rosetta Stone collection, but I keep finding a lot of other uses for that money. I’m also just not convinced, given how many free resources are out there, that I have to pay for anything (at least not at this early level of instruction).
All you need is a library card and a dream!
I don’t go the the library as often as I should, given how much I love the library (and how often I am buying books that I should just go check out of the library). But I have a very bad habit of racking up late fees, and until recently, my 3 year old thought of the library as his own personal playground, with books instead of balls to throw. We didn’t make a lot of friends among the staff or other patrons.
We are, more or less, past all of that now, so I have begun to re-discover the library. Although I knew you could get more than books at the library, I had never investigated all of the free e-resources available through most public libraries. At libraries across the country, with nothing more than the account number on your library card, you can access, at home or anywhere else, a treasure trove of educational tools, from audiobooks, ebooks for kids and adults, test prep, magazines, (even Us Weekly, yay!), and online membership to language learning programs.
Muzzy and Mango
Through my library, there are two different language programs available: Mango Languages and Muzzy (both of which you would normally need to pay for.) By logging on to my library’s website using my library card and a pin # they gave me, I can use these two programs on my home computer (or any computer), as though I was a paying customer.
Mango is not designed specifically for kids, but as long as they can read at a mid-Elementary level (a strong first grade reader, or average 2nd grader), they will be fine. The program is offered in 63 languages, although some languages have a lot more lessons than others. Unlike many programs, Mango doesn’t focus on teaching you the foundations of the language, but rather getting you to a point where you could function if you were dropped off in the middle of the country on your own.
Each lesson starts with a list of conversation and grammar goals, which l like; there are also cultural notes interspersed throughout the lesson. As a starting point for language learning, I like Mango (especially if you get it for free). I could definitely see us using it as a replacement for Rosetta Stone, at least for the first level or so. On the negative side, it’s not very interactive, which could cause some kids to lose interest, but luckily the lessons are short and sweet.
Muzzy, produced by the BBC, is one of the oldest, and best-known language learning programs for children. I was very excited to find this program offered through my library, because I have wanted to try it out for years, but didn’t want to buy it. It offers 8 languages, including Spanish, French and Mandarin (but not Greek, sadly!). It uses cute animation, videos and games, implementing a “see and say, listen and learn” method which mimics native language learning. And they have recently redone their animation and music, so it doesn’t look as horribly dated anymore, although its still far from glamorous (you can see a clip of their updated look here). Given that we can access it for free, I am happy to have my kids use it to complement their work on Mango.
So that’s what I’ve found at my library. How about you? I’m curious if other libraries offer different, or more, selections. In a future post, I’ll share some other great, free, language learning resources from the interest and YouTube that we’ve enjoyed. Stay tuned!
Thank you for reading!
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Lisa Sarafidis – Guest Blogger
Yes! I let my kids talk to strangers… in Chinese. Of course, I am there watching from a safe distance, but I want my children to feel comfortable talking to folks who speak Mandarin outside of the little cozy circle that I have created for them.
They currently speak to their tutor, babysitter and swim teacher in Mandarin but I want them to be able to understand different accents and faster/slower voices. I want to see how they would do “in the real world” with their Mandarin. Granted, speaking in Mandarin to random strangers in IKEA does not exactly mimic the “real world”, but it at least opens their ears to accents that they may not have heard before or a pace that they may never have encountered.
What can you do?
So the next time you hear someone speaking in your target second language, nudge your little ones to “speak to strangers”!
One of the best ways to explore the second language that you study with your children is by experiencing cultural events in your target language. It may take some time to hunt down those events, but once you do, they can become a part of your annual traditions that help boost your child’s interest and ability in your second language choice!
Enhance your child’s excitement about learning a second language by immersing him/her in fun cultural events!
How do we find out about events in our target second language?
I am a participant in many free yahoo groups, Facebook groups and mommy meetup groups that focus on Chinese learning with children. People in those groups are always posting wonderful events in Chinese for my family to check out! Often times, the events that get shared are for adventures that I would never have found otherwise. For example, one of my Mandarin-speaking mommy yahoo groups posts about Chinese book-fairs at local bilingual schools. The money helps out the school, but I can also buy and check out new Mandarin products for my kids! Win win!
10 Ways to Find Out About Cultural Events in Your Area:
1. Join yahoo groups in your area focusing on your target second language (or start your own!)
2. Join meetup groups in your area focusing on your target second language (or start your own!)
3. Join Facebook groups in your area focusing on your target second language (or start your own!)
4. Sign up for a class in your target second language to make friends who speak that language.
5. Call libraries in the area where there is a large population of folks who speak your target second language. See if they offer a reading hour in your target second language. See if they have a bulletin board where folks might post events that might focus on your target second language.
6. Check out book stores where they have a large collection of books in your target second language. Post up a sign or look for events posted on bulletin boards there.
7. Post an ad on craigslist looking for friends who speak that second language choice or search for events there.
8. Go to grocery stores that focus on foods culturally from your target second language and see if anyone has posted events up on the bulletin boards there.
9. Check out your local newspaper that focuses on your target language choice and see if they list some fun events.
10. Look online at local museums that have collections of art that focus on your target language to get on their lists to see when events might come up that might focus on the language of your choice.
How can you get the most from your event?
Encourage your child to jump right into the event and start speaking your target second language! If there is an activity – get your kid to join! If there are restaurants nearby with staff that can speak your target second language, have your kids order the meal! If there is a special activity, make sure that you get there on time to enjoy it!
For us, my children were delighted to find out that people actually speak Chinese outside of our house! When we first started exploring Chinese, my kids must have thought that it was this language that only existed in our home and with our babysitter! Now they know that there is a large community right in our neighborhood that speaks Mandarin just like they do!
It is really up to you and how much free time you have with your family. We try to attend something in Chinese once a month. We have explored all of Chinatown, purchased books at fairs, listened to library book readings in Mandarin, gone to museum gallery events that focus on Chinese culture or history and attended many playdates hosted in Mandarin.
Where are we in these pictures?
The pictures of my family in this post are of us enjoying Chinese New Year in San Francisco. My kids loved munching on Chinese snacks at the stands, “dancing” in a Chinese Ribbon Dance, watching Chinese drummers perform and testing out their Mandarin with everyone they met!
Enjoy your adventures!
If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to teach your kid French, Usborne has some of the best books and products. All of their books are filled with colorful ways to teach your kid the French Language. The best part about their French language books for kids is that they are themed — instead of just showing you a word and its definition, these books associate the French words with interesting activities kids can relate to in everyday life. Many of the French books also include pronunciation links online spoken by a native speaker. What a wonderful French learning resource to make sure that you are saying all of the words correctly!
We have personally reviewed each of these books and DVDs so check out our reviews here: BEST FRENCH WORD LEARNING MATERIALS
The Folks at The Language Playground
The whole family has recently fallen in love with this creative strategy game called Blokus. The goal of this game is for players to fit all of their pieces (each player gets 21) onto the board. When placing a piece it may not lie adjacent to the player’s other pieces, but must be placed touching at least one corner of the player’s pieces already on the board. The player who gets rid of all of his tiles first is the winner. You have to think ahead in order to find the best path for your pieces and to block your opponent. It is an fantastic game to build your child’s spatial thinking!
How do we use Blokus to make flashcards more fun?
Each player in Blokus is given 21 pieces and so for each piece a child puts down, he needs to answer one flashcard. Each person in the family needs to answer his flashcard before he can play so by the end we have gone through a ton of cards! There are 84 pieces in the game but not all of them will be used. Usually, there is a winner by the time 60 pieces have been put down — that’s a lot of flashcards!
What I love about Blokus:
If you play the game with only two people, you need to either make the board smaller by blocking off a few rows or you need to have both players play with two colors which can be confusing.
Buy it here on Amazon:
What a wonderful game! We are just thrilled! I hope you are too!
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