Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Basic Chinese 500, the book & app

Since we started 四五快读 book 2, i found the words more and more difficult to teach sonshine. Some of the words have no specific meaning (think words like 'the') and it is really tough to explain to him how to use the words-especially when we don't speak Mandarin regularly.

I decided (again) that the best way to do it is to read Mandarin books.That's when i went on another hunt for Mandarin books. This time, i wasn't looking for a good story line just a book with huge fonts and simple words, preferably words that sonshine has just learnt from 四五快读. I wanted a book that sonshine can read aloud to me.

The book i found is the Basic Chinese 500. Actually, I bought our first book long ago, way before it was popular, when it just made its way to the book store. I didn't like it, though sonshine did, so i left it aside until recently.

The book is about right for the boy because the words are not only huge but they are simple enough for him to read & understand. He tends to get put off with too many and too small mandarin words in one page- i mean, who doesn't?

What is really great about this book is that it focuses on one new word in each chapter such that the reader gets to read & see that new word repeatedly. I use the book to compliment our 四五快读 lessons. For instance, now we are learning '还' which is not easy word to explain. So i took this book and turn to the chapter that feature the same word & have sonshine read out loud to me. Hopefully this way he learns how to read and use the new word.

But i really wish it would do away with the Hanyu Pinyin. Sonshine seems to be relying on it to read words that he has forgotten.

I also purchased the app on my ipad after reading a mom's review. But i am disappointed. I do not like the app, although it is much cheaper than the books itself. It is not design to be like a book. In fact, each page is like a new chapter. One word, one sentence is shown on a page. To move on, one would have to return to the main menu to select the next page or lesson. It disrupts the reading. I regret purchasing the app which is not cheap USD$2.99. I do not recommend it.

Lastly, before you scoot off to buy this book do be aware that it is not meant to be a story book. The chapters are not in relation to each other and sometimes the context can be quite silly. The idea of the book is not to give a beautiful story but to help kids to learn new words.


  1. Hi, I am always amazed at the things you do with your Sonshine. Just wondering, now that you have a baby, how on earth do you manage to continue with all these homelearning activities? I'm trying to, but our homelearning is now almost nonexistent!

  2. hello! umm, its all about perception! My home learning is not going on much either. I usually do 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there and then consolidate all in one blog post- hence creating an impression i do alot. hee!

  3. I have been searching for "45 fast read" (sorry, dunno how to use Chinese icons on iPad). Unfortunately they don hav it in Popular bookstores in Malaysia. First heard about the series in kiasuparents. Will have to get them in singapore one day. Having a second child do change homeschooling huh? Hopefully I can keep up like you :)

  4. Hi Jessica, took me a while to figure out '4 5 fast read' lol! You have to set up the internatioanl keyboard found in your ipad settings. You may consider ordering 四五快读 online from spore, there's numerous sellers at Singapore motherhood forum (bulk purchase) or you have buy from http://happycottagesg.blogspot.com/2011/07/blog-post.html Im sure they can send it to you as long as you are willing to pay for the postage. Ya lor, having an infant at home makes home learning very very tough. Need lots of planning and some fortune. ;)


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