Like all things in my life, I pretty much get 80% of my information about Mandarin Immersion and Chinese language acquisition from Facebook. The cool thing is, since so many of my friends are also into Mandarin Immersion for our children, we’ve slowly infiltrated all these groups. I’ve also managed to meet new friends this way as well.
Anyhow, here then are a few Facebook Groups that I have found very helpful in this crazy journey and labor of teaching my kids to be fluent in Mandarin and English.
1) Raising Bilingual Children in Chinese and English – Started by the incomparable Oliver Tu, I must fully disclose that I am an admin for this group and this is my main “home” for Mandarin Immersion info. I find that this group is helpful, welcoming, and a great place for parents to discuss the concerns we have for raising our children bilingual (especially as it pertains to heritage families – but we are trying to include more non-heritage families as well).
We are somewhat more restrictive in this group because we share a lot of personal information about our children and our specific situations, so we ask that in general, members have children and are actively trying to raise them bilingual. There are no other qualifications other than that.
This would not be a good fit for adults who are learning Chinese or Chinese culture. Nor is it focused on Chinese (as in, from China or Taiwan or other Asian countries) parents who are wanting their children to learn English as a second language. Most of us are in an English-speaking majority language country and are trying to cram as much Chinese into our kids as possible (Mandarin and Cantonese). Our posts and resources obviously reflect that bias.
The group has “Files” (makeshift “Threads” for lack of better forum-mimicry) that range from topics of Chinese bookstores, apps and online web resources, children’s programming, to grammar questions, pop-culture, theory and philosophy, and just a ton of info that Oliver has compiled and curated for us. In fact, 90% of the resources I post on this site I culled from or directly copied from this group.
2) Cantonese Parents, Babies, and Toddlers – I’m not personally part of this group because I don’t speak Cantonese. However, I hear it is also a great resource for parents with Cantonese-specific concerns. Obviously, there may be some overlap due to the fact that the written language is the same. (Although, Cantonese folks generally read Traditional characters like the Taiwanese.)
There is also a Google Drive where they share files and screenshots of textbooks people can sample and try on their kids before they commit to buying the whole sets.
Special thanks to FL for bringing my attention to this group.
3) Mums Learn Mandarin Chinese – I just joined this group about a week ago and boy, I haven’t had to work my Chinese language muscles that hard in awhile! This is a very small and very closed group. In fact, I learned about it from JS and it is super hard core. (All photos relating to this group are hers.) There are strict participation requirements and every month, the roster is culled. The main bulk of members are moms from Singapore learning Chinese. (Which I initially found super weird until I looked up the languages of Singapore on Wikipedia. Who knew Singapore was so diverse?)
In fact, this is where I got some more Singapore and Malaysian specific Chinese bookstores.
Currently, the group is going through a book someone found in a Singapore bookstore called Chinese Made Super Easy 2.
The admin posts a new word a day and members are asked to write a sentence using that word/phrase. We are asked to post the sentence in characters, pinyin, and English translation (to save everyone time since most are beginners).
Some of the more advanced members may correct or suggest alternate phrasings and the whole spirit is very collaborative and helpful. (I have fallen on my ass publicly several times because I thought my Chinese was better than it is and although the embarrassment stings a bit, ultimately, I am unharmed.)
I have had to think very carefully on the Chinese language and its grammar structure as well as try to figure out how much our differences are due to stylistic and regional differences, Traditional or Simplified character usage (the group uses Simplified because that is the version Singapore uses), as well as my general poor Chinese skills due to my being an ABC and having Chinglishy grammar. (Try and deconstruct that sentence!)
There are other threads as well that run the gamut like all the other Facebook groups. These have also been helpful – especially for me to realize that there are indeed so many ways to learn Chinese, so many applications, as well as so many cultural differences, too.
All in all, this group is high-intensity and high-involvement. However, with just the week I’ve been part of it, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the group dynamics, the camaraderie, and learning.
Plus, it’s been excellent at humbling my slightly biased view of my own Chinese abilities. Let’s just say I’ve had to eat crow a few times as well as ask my mom a ton of Chinese grammar questions. Likely, she’s wondering why I keep randomly texting her about Chinese grammar. I’m curious as to how long it will be (if ever) until she asks me about it. Is that wrong?
There are more groups that I’m a part of but I’ll hold off for now. If only because I’m tired and quite frankly, if I list too many, what will I post about next? Also, how many of your eyes have already glazed over, hmmm?
Until next time, my friends.