As promised on my previous post where I shared about our learning French and Chinese at the same time, I’m following up on the resources for learning Chinese for kids I’ve found. (I already posted my follow up on free learning French resources).
Being the researcher that I am, I went through perhaps too many textbooks, sites, and apps in my attempt to find the most suitable for Super Hero’s learning style. I have narrowed down these findings on learning Chinese for kids books and resources to just a few final candidates. My criteria to include an item in the final list is quite simple: It can’t be too “babyish” for an 8 year-old, nor too advanced, meaning not too much text to read or to write required. Based on past curriculum successes and failures, these are my must-have requirements:
- Each session must be brief, 10 to 15 minutes at most.
- Incremental progression. Ideally the material builds on itself on small, gradual increments.
- At least some grammar must be included. There are a lot of children programs that focus only on vocabulary, which is fine, but we’re already using mindsnacks for that (for now anyway).
- It must include a video component. This is a personal preference since Super Hero is a very visual learner. A short video lesson backed up with a textbook for more in-depth explanations and exercises works out best for us.
- nice format easy on the eye easy to follow with a nice layout and design
My Top Picks
- My First Chinese Reader from BetterChinese.com
It is very well put together, however, only a 6 month-subscription to their web-based material is included. A couple of reviews I read say their online content is quite engaging and high quality, but somehow, I don’t like the idea of having a rather short time window in which we must complete the lessons. Nevertheless, I’m mentioning it here because it really looked as one of the best ones; and perhaps you might not mind the 6-month time frame.
- Chinese for Children from ChinaSprout.com
This is a series of 2 video DVDs and 1 textbook. I also found these at Amazon with very good reviews, albeit not that many at all. DVD1, DVD2 and textbook
- Fun Fun Elmo: A Mandarin Language Learning Program
Sesame Street’s Fun Fun Elmo might be a little bit on the babyish side, but it’s a free resource worth checking out.
- Chinese Made Easy for Children
One of ChildBook.com‘s bestsellers, which can be also found at Amazon. It has a lot of excellent reviews and I’m very inclined to get it.
- Ni Hao
The Chinese textbook used by the John Hopkins Center for Gifted Youth program. It can also be found at Amazon,
I will probably wait until we find us a Chinese tutor, before we order either “Chinese Made Easy for Children” or “Ni Hao”, for it seems you’d need to have at least some prior understanding of Chinese to fully appreciate these positively reviewed resources.
Podcast Based Course
KidsChinesePodcast.com may not have a video component, but it looks like an excellent program, and extremely affordable. A year subscription is only $30. A native Chinese speaker teaches her 5 year-old daughter with a method that emulates the way children naturally learn a language. What I like most about KCP is its portability, I intended to just listen one lesson at a time in the car, but Super Hero kept asking us to continue. We have listened to the first 3 or 4 lessons in the car, and I found them quite effective so far.
We will continue with KidsChinesePodcast.com, there’s something quite charming about listening to a 5 year-old learning along with us. And when we get us the Chinese tutor later on, we’ll surely add either Chinese Made Easy for Kids or Ni Hao.