Mandarin Website Recommendations
Chinese Product Sites
AsianParent.com has fantastic products (DVDs, workbooks, games, etc.), all in Mandarin! Check them out! We love their stuff and they are fast & cheap! We also love the fact that they are a “mom & pop shop” in California.
Chinese Language Learning Sites
Memrise is an absolutely beautiful free site to help you learn vocabulary in Mandarin (and fifty other languages!) in a creative and fun way! The site is continually improving through a community of learners who help to add mnemonics, pictures, videos and audio to help you learn vocabulary in your chosen language. Users can create flashcards for only the words that interest them. We just love the simplicity of design and the creative approach to vocabulary building that this site offers… for free!
The Mandarin Center is a free website for everyone who is passionate about teaching and learning Chinese language and culture. Find teacher-created lesson plans, member-reviewed classroom tools, and exciting job opportunities. Exchange teaching ideas with other members and discover new ways to make Chinese education fun.
Where to Learn Chinese is a wonderful and informative website that allows users to search for schools that teach Chinese. Users can easily narrow down their search by location, language (Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese) and type (preschool, after school, high school etc). The site also allows users to enter in a school that is not listed.
Survival Phrases: Mandarin is an innovative and fun way of learning the Chinese language and culture at your own convenience and pace. The teacher makes the lessons easy to understand. Their language training system consists of free podcast audio lessons, accompanying PDF guides, and a vibrant user community. Free Podcast: http://survivalphrases.com/chinese/feed
While Chinese Tools is a very confusing site with a lot of advertising, it offers a basic and clear introduction to Mandarin including explanations about tones, stroke order, prononciation. The site is broken up into different lessons that cover topics like introduction, food items and birthdays. Access to the audio files can be cumbersome as users need to click on the audio file and open up a new page for all of the phrases in the lesson. I found that I had to go back and forth between the audio clips and the phrases often as all of the phrases for that lesson are included in the same audio clip. That said, it is a very comprehensive FREE site!
This Chinese-English dictionary is a a very useful site (although not particularly pretty). You can type in a word in Chinese characters, Pinyin or English, and it will translate it for you in all three versions (characters, pinyin, English). It also gives you the audio for the word, so you can hear it pronounced, which is extremely helpful.
Popup Chinese is the highest rated Chinese lessons series on iTunes (at least according to them), and the only Chinese program recommended by the heads of all major immersion programs in Beijing. You sign up for a free account, and then have access to over 1,000 Chinese lesson podcasts. Their site also has an interactive dictionary, a Chinese translator, a Chinese forum, and tips on learning Chinese.
General Foreign Language Learning
Multilingual Living is a fabulous resource for teaching your kids a foreign language. The site maintains a well-run blog, which is frequently updated, with wonderful tips and suggestions for bringing language into your lives.
Multilingual Children’s Association is a great site dedicated to raising children with multiple languages — expert advice and real world wisdom, parent discussions, tips, resource directory, articles and more.
Language Lizard is a very well-run and well-organized site geared towards helping parents and educators foster bilingualism in children. The site provides lesson plans, book reviews, tips and other resources. They also sell their own, proprietary language books, many of which are available in bilingual and multilingual versions. They cover over 40 languages.
American Council on Immersion Education is a pretty information intensive site (part of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition) that provides a lot of research and resources for supporting language immersion education.
Nanduti is a comprehensive resource on foreign language teaching and learning in grades preK-8, part of the Center for Applied Linguistics. The site provides lots of great articles, research and resources for teaching foreign languages to children. The site also supports a fabulous listserv Nandu, for language educators (or for curious parents!)
Mis Cositas is not the prettiest website, but it has an AMAZING amount of extremely useful tools for teaching Spanish, English, French and Chinese. You can watch and listen to videos and picture books in Spanish, download teaching materials, and access thematic units, with lessons, handouts and cultural connections. Just click on the link for the language you want, and enjoy. All for free!
Free Online Parent Communities
The Mandarin ChitChat Yahoo! Group is open to anyone who is interested in Mandarin learning and teaching support including materials, tutoring, books and other resources.
The Mandarin Immersion Yahoo! Group a group for families with children in Mandarin immersion programs in both public and private schools in the United States and elsewhere. The group shares information and ideas about how to start and nurture new programs and help established ones flourish. Don’t reinvent the wheel but instead share this hard-won knowledge and help our kids, our teachers and our schools.
The Mandarin Immersion Parents Council is a very informative website for parents interested in introducing their children to mandarin. While the focus is the Bay Area (schools, camps and teaching jobs), they offer many other interesting posts and information such as recent articles and sources about second language learning, travel to China and schools around the US.While the focus is the Bay Area, often they will post interesting information for all parents interested in Mandarin education.
Advocates for Chinese Education Yahoo! Group , or ACE, is a parent, teacher and educator based non-profit organization. Our mission is to advocate, promote and enable Chinese/Mandarin education programs in schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. While the focus is the Bay Area, often they will post interesting information for all parents interested in Mandarin education.
The Mandarin Tri-Lingual Yahoo! Group is a group for families with children in Mandarin immersion who speak a language other than English at home and are raising trilingual children.
Bay Area Focus Websites
Mandarin Playgroup Yahoo! Group a group of Mandarin-speaking mothers who meet once a week with their children (ages of 1-6), in the Oakland/Berkeley area. Their main goal is to familiarize their children with Mandarin conversation through play and friendships between the mothers and children.
The BACE Community Yahoo! Group is a Yahoo community is for the sharing of information related to the learning of (Mandarin) Chinese language and culture in the San Francisco Bay Area, Pre-K through high school. All members are encouraged to post questions, share information, and update our database of classes and resources in the area. While the focus is the Bay Area, often they will post interesting information for all parents interested in Mandarin education.
The Jinshan Mandarin Educational Council is mostly meant for parents interested in sending their children to Mandarin immersion schools in San Francisco, however the moderator of this website will often post articles that pertain to immersion in general.
The Association of Northern California Chinese Schools is written in Chinese so you need to use Google Translate option to read it if you don’t read Chinese characters. As a result, the website in English can be a little confusing to read but they have a nice calendar with upcoming events and comprehensive list of schools in Northern CA that teach Mandarin.
Community Child Care Council of Santa Clara County Helps parents search for licensed Chinese-speaking daycare in Santa Clara County (but not limited just to Chinese speakers)
If you are travelling to China, you will need to get your passport photo. At Passport Photo Studio you just upload a photo and it sizes it (China’s size is the same as the UK size) and prints four of them to a page. It’s $8.85 and worth it. It is super easy to print out 48 mm x 33 mm pictures.