This post is the 5th of a 5-part blog train on 5 ways to engage our children using Bilingual English/Mandarin book, “Ariel and Her Honesty Pig” book. Other contributors to this train include The Wacky Duo, BubbaMama, The Chill Mom and Beverly’s Net.
Life in Australia can be pretty interesting, as we immerse ourselves in a different country, culture, and take on new lingo and slangs. Each time we FaceTime family back in Singapore, or we send short video clips of their antics over Whatsapp, the inadvertent remark seems to be “What are they talking about?” or “Gosh, such an Aussie accent!” and I guess this is part and parcel of living overseas for the last two years. McDonald’s used to be “Macs” back in Singapore… and we call it “Maccas” now. “Sports shoes” are called “runners”, “trackpants” (which we seldom wear in humid Singapore) is de rigueur here in Australia, especially with the onset of the colder weather – and fondly renamed as “trackies”.
The kids’ level of conversational English has always been pretty good, cos I am usually anal, and when they pronounce a word wrongly, I cannot help myself but to correct them – and the conversation comes to a standstill till they repeat the word correctly. Xavier has recently taken to using the past tense and he uses it well too, which I am glad – except for the fact he overemphasizes on the “-ed” ending, which irks me no end. Haha! Well, at least he recognizes that it is the right usage.
Jayvon enjoys writing long, long mini essays, and almost every day in class, the teacher gets them to write on a variety of topics, and he has improved by leaps and bounds – from someone who could hardly read 3-letter words, his reading and spelling and writing has improved greatly in the last 2 years.
And so, the only thorn in my flesh…
And the fact that since we ARE Chinese, we should have at least a basic understanding of the language. Plus the fact that when we go back to Singapore, the kids would be thrust into the very unforgiving world of the Singapore education system where Chinese is compulsory, and it is TOUGH.
And so we do our best, to instill into our kids as much bilingualism as we possibly can. And it is an uphill struggle. U-P-H-I-L-L. But we keep at it, and there are several things we do to help introduce Chinese into our everyday life.
And so, when I was approached to do a review of a bilingual (Chinese/English) book by MandarinaKids, you can imagine my hestitation! But nothing like giving it a go, and while I tried Chinese story books, I have not tried bilingual ones, and didn’t know what to expect.
When the book came, the first person who was most keen, cos of the colours and bright pictures, was my little Miss, Zoie, all of 2 years old!
I tried reading it to her, but she was more keen in lifting up flaps and pointing at objects.
What I liked: It was an easy to read story, one with good values (talking about honesty and friendship!). The hanyu pinyin on the Chinese part helped someone like me who’s more than a little rusty to be able to read to them smoothly. Jayvon also relied heavily on the pinyin to read – though his pronunciation wasn’t spot on.
I also liked the way they incorporated the bilingual portion, by placing the English words under a “flap” under each Chinese section – as opposed to printing both on the same page. I liked it this way, so the focus when reading would be on the language, without the distraction of being able to read the English part.
There were little phrases and flaps, and the graphic of the “hair” was a nice touch, and my 2 year old could enjoy that part.
What I would have preferred: A more stylized English translation, as in written with a better flair so that it would be enjoyable as a standalone English story book as well.
However, this book and its storyline came at a perfect time – as we were thinking of the kind of party we wanted to throw for Zoie’s second birthday party! It was enjoyable pointing through and as we read through the story, I threw her some questions about her own party:
“Do you want balloons, Zoie?”
“How about a cake? Would you like a cake?”
“Oh! And presents! Do you want to go shopping at Target?”
She sure knows her mind, this little one!
In the end, due to the horrendously rainy weather we’d been experiencing, we decided to scale down this year’s celebration, didn’t organize a party with her friends. But the childcare centre has its own in-house chef (who prepares yummy meals for the kids), and she especially prepared cupcakes for the kids, and we were invited to come down to have a mini-celebration, which we were more than happy to!
I really enjoyed reading this book, as did my guinea pigs, I mean, kids!
Special discount for our readers
MandarinaKids is giving our readers a 25% discount off their products. The promotional discount code is MK505WU. This code expires end June 2015, so be sure to pick up your copy of Ariel and her Honesty Pig here!
Stand a chance to win this book, by simply following these simple steps on the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway closes on 22 May 2015, and this is only open to residents living in Singapore only.