Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mei Mei Dance and Learn DVD Review

We checked out two Mei Mei DVDs from our local library last week. We watched Mei Mei Dance and Learn first. Well, we didn't really watch it all.  We had it playing while playing trains.  Mei Mei introduces the DVD and girls sing and dance to each song.  It retails for just under $25.

It was sweet, but not something I think we'd sit and watch.  Some of the tunes were familiar-but they had different words to it. I appreciate that the words were on the screen in English, Mandarin Chinese characters and Pinyin.  It didn't hold E's interest. We had it play twice through while we were playing with other toys. She would glance up every now and then-especially during the portions where they would count, I assume because these were recognizable words to her. Perhaps this will be a DVD we can try in another few months or so.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Language Stars-Week 3

She did it!! We just got home from week 3 at Language Stars and exciting news! E spoke Mandarin today, loudly and clearly to the teacher. She said please and good-bye. She also counted to six correctly!

It took her a while to settle down at the beginning of class. She decided that running circles around me and giving me hugs was more fun.  I try to corral her and get her to sit and listen and interact.  It is challenging, though, because I'm really trying to stick to only speaking Mandarin in the classroom.  I don't know how to tell her to sit down yet. But, definitely something to sort out before next class.

This week we continued to cover cold weather, some winter clothing and counting. The teacher read the book The Mitten to us-the one where a boy loses his mitten and all the animals climb into it to stay warm. We used masks for some of the different animals.  There was also an activity where we put small finger puppets of the animals into a large silicone oven mitten.  We had a coloring and taping activity with mittens and some animals. E did a great job with the double sided tape.  The cookies and gold fish crackers were a big hit again.

We were excited to see one of the other teachers in our local paper-visiting the Elmhurst Library. Not sure how we missed it, but we hope to make it to Naperville's 95th Street library tomorrow for Mandarin Storytime there!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Love our Library!

We made a quick trip to our library today for a book I'd reserved. I figured we'd check out a few new books for E and see if they had any Mandarin resources. I don't know why I didn't before?!

They didn't have that many books-but I checked out 2:
  1. My First Book of Mandarin Chinese Words
  2. China's Bravest Girl
They also had a "Learning Bag" with a large case of DVDs called Muzzy-by the BBC. I've never heard of this.

I looked in the DVD section and was surprised at the selection of foreign language learning DVDs.  I picked up two to try:
  1. Play and Learn Chinese with Mei Mei - 1
  2. Dance and Learn Chinese with Mei Mei
I have no idea if these will be good resources or not-but will review them here in the next few weeks. Please stay tuned!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chinese New Year Dinner

My husband took E and I out to our local Chinese Restaurant on Monday night for their Chinese New Year dinner.  Some of the staff was dressed up in somewhat traditional clothing.  Each guest was able to draw a red envelope. Mine had a $1 in it, husband's a coupon for beer, and E's a coupon for a free appetizer. Dinner was good. E was on decent behavior. We tried to get her to talk with the waitress, but she was too shy.  She did count the lanterns in English and Mandarin.

She woke up for the fortune cookies.  Her fortune was blank.  What does that mean?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Language Stars-Week 2

This week at Language Stars we again went over winter clothing. Class started with playtime with toys on the floor. E was very preoccupied with moving the chairs around. She participated in cleaning up the toys.  The teacher had a snowman to dress up. E tried to help find the various items to put on.

There was an activity where the teacher said a clothing word and the kids were supposed to hit paper with the word with a fly swatter. E found the correct words. We reviewed a book with pop out pieces of clothing.  E correctly picked the items the teacher asked for. She still hasn't spoken in Mandarin during class, but she seems to be understanding at least some of it. The teacher said she noticed her mouthing some of the words-we'll see!

We printed out the lesson with the vocabulary words for hat, mitten, scarf, coat, boots and have it here next to our table housing some of our winter items (close to the door).  I try to review as we put the different items on each day. Although-lately the weather hasn't been cold enough for most of it!

I just received my email from Language Stars about the next 2 weeks curriculum and it is... Counting!!  I'm overly excited about this topic because E has learned to count to 10 in Mandarin from the Little Pim DVD and I'm hoping this will give her the confidence to participate in class more.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Little Pim

I bought our first Little Pim DVD back in September off of ebay. I bought #6 - Counting. We brought it with us on a vacation and had it playing some mornings while we were getting dressed. E loved it! After watching it twice I heard her from the other room say "e, r, san, sik, mo"-not quite right, but counting to 5 in Mandarin! On her own, no coaxing or coaching?! Fantastic! Mandarin it is!

E enjoying Little Pim one morning:

Have you used any DVDs to enhance your child's foreign language learning?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Language Stars-Week 1

We had signed up for the Language Stars Parent/Tot Mandarin class.  Because a friend referred us, we both received $50 credit-nice bonus!  Before we attended our class, I received an email with links to three worksheets of information about what we'd be covering. The first two classes will go over winter clothing: Hat, Mittens, Scarf, Coat and Boots. There is a button on the web page that lets you hear the words spoken by a native Mandarin speaker. This was very helpful!

On our way to the first lesson, I was curious how E would react to the setting, teacher and other students.  Class started with toys on the floor.  Two more mothers came in with their sons. Our teacher is really cheerful and friendly.   She interacted really well with E and speaks only in Mandarin during class.  After a few more minutes of playtime with cars, blocks, rings and things, it was time to clean up. The teacher sang a song that I assume was about cleaning up. All the kids helped put the toys away.

Next we played a  few games with the winter clothing words -dressed up a frog in winter clothing and sang a song about being cold. I did my best to speak the words back to the teacher as she asked. E didn't say a thing, but the class held her interest.  She did hand the teacher the correct clothing item when asked. I'm not sure if she understood or if it was a lucky guess.  The only word I remember is for hat. It sounds like "Mao-zer."

We all sat at a table and had fish and animal crackers.  E liked this part just fine! We were also offered lemonade. There was a coloring activity involving a hat. E was thrilled that we were using markers instead of crayons (a treat around our house). "Marker" in Mandarin sounds like "Marker-bee" to me. I think I'll remember that word.

After cleaning up, class was over.  E was starting to act sleepy-it is past her nap time. Excited to see what next week will bring!

Friday, January 20, 2012

How we chose Mandarin- part 2

The other language we had considered was Mandarin.  So many people speak Mandarin and we could see how it would be beneficial to our daughter in the future especially if she went into business.  I also am a small part Chinese and thought at least there was more of a connection there than with Spanish.

We had a positive experience with Little Pim Mandarin (more on this in a separate post soon).

We tried a parent tot class of Mandarin out at Language Stars.  E did much better in this class. I think she was a little afraid of the teacher (she was shy of most males at the time).  The other student in the class wasn't very participatory-so it was again quite challenging for us.  I wasn't feeling well and we ended up leaving early.  The center manager was very understanding when we spoke on the phone later that week.  I was hesitant to sign up for a class if E wasn't going to participate. I just felt for her it was too early.  We agreed to talk after she turned 2.

The new assistant center director called in mid-December and we did it-we signed up for the Winter/Spring session! I'm very excited to see how this goes!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How we chose Mandarin- part 1

My husband and I have a 2 year old daughter. We'd heard and read about the benefits of exposure to additional languages while children are very young.  Neither of us is fluent in a language other than English.  Spanish seems to be a common second language to learn in the area with many options for schools.

We came across Language Stars based on some friends recommendations. We tried a trial class in Spanish. I was thrown off because the teacher was from Argentina and her pronunciation was different than what I had been taught and exposed to. My daughter was maybe 14 months at the time.  There was a younger child-maybe 10 months and an older child who was having a rough day.  It was not a great experience. The Center Director was very understanding and offered for me to try another class.

Leaving that day, I started to question the choice of Spanish for my daughter. Was this the most useful language for her to learn? Or was I choosing it because it was easiest for me?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Hello! Welcome to my blog. We've decided to learn Mandarin as a family and I will be tracking our progress and reporting on products and resources we try.  I look forward to sharing our experiences and hope to hear from others who are on a similar path. I will be posting more in the next days catching you up on why we chose Mandarin and our first weeks at Language Stars. Talk to you soon!