Even More Chinese Language Facebook Groups

Alright, after a few weeks’ break, here we are again for some great Facebook groups that help support Chinese language learning for our kids. All the groups featured today are location specific, so please keep that in mind. Of course, if they inspire you to create your own group for your area, all the better!

1) Mandarin Immersion Social Adventures – A group of parents in Southern California a private & insured parent-run club for all Mandarin Immersion families in the Los Angeles area who enjoy going to places or doing stuff together! All MI-Adventurers can plan and promote any adventure as long as it is (1) FUN and (2) related to one or more of the following disciplines: STEMMM – that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Music & Mandarin

YVT, a fellow member of one of the Facebook groups I’m in said her son is the founder and she’s the secretary (the heavy lifter). It started from their journey at Broadway Mandarin Immersion (LAUSD) in 2011. The majority of the members hail from their former school community but it’s open to anyone who is learning Mandarin. Adventures are science, tech, engineering, math, music and Mandarin related. Obviously, you would need to live in the area to actually attend their adventures.

Sounds super fun to me!

Seems like they are also a Google+ group and you can opt in several ways. Please see their Facebook page for more information.

Thanks to YVT for the tip!

2) EBAAP (East Bay Asian American Parents) – Originally a MeetUp group that migrated to Facebook to avoid fees, it’s not as active as it used to be since many of the founding families’ kids have aged out of the “playdate” range. However, a lot of us are still friends and in the East Bay Area and connect and offer each other resources.

While not specifically for Chinese Immersion or for Chinese people, there are quite a few Chinese/Taiwanese American families in the group and they have weekly Mandarin playgroups. I met some of my best friends in a Mandarin playgroup through this group when Cookie Monster was 15 months old. And then later, at a different Mandarin playgroup, I met some more good friends. Super grateful for this group.

Obviously, you would need to live in the area, be Asian American (or at least have some members of your family be Asian American), and have children.

3) Summer in Taipei 2015 – This group is actually for Hong Kong mothers who spend or want to spend their summers in Taipei. Each year, they change the group name to the appropriate year. I get a lot of info here for Taiwanese summer camps and sessions (as well as places to live and stay).

Again, this is more specifically for mothers in Hong Kong so the community is small, closed, and very specific in terms of the issues they address. (Eg: housing, au pairs, visas, additional schooling for mommies, etc.) (I got snuck in somehow thanks to HK Mama Bear for the add last summer. So helpful!)

However, there is enough information that is useful to non-HK mothers and just folks in general who want to send their kids to local Taipei schools in the summer. In general, I would not join this group unless you are also a mother in Hong Kong. I have been cross-posting a lot of their information in other FB groups.

And that’s it for this week! As always, if you are a member of any of these groups, please comment and let us know your opinions. Or, if there is a FB group you think I should know about, please let me know that as well!

Cantonese Language Facebook Groups

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, due to many readers asking for Cantonese specific Facebook groups, I did some research into the topic. Here are my tl;dr findings:

1) Canadians and UK residents are representing! US residents, you gotta step up your game.

2) There is a dearth of Cantonese language parenting groups/forums other than this main one: Cantonese Parents, babies and toddlers, which I covered in a previous post.

3) As with all things, if more than a handful of friends are looking for a group and haven’t found anything, this means there is a true need. So, if you want a Cantonese language support group, CREATE ONE.

From my searches on Facebook, a lot of groups come up so I will leave you to look at the ones I didn’t include for relevance and brevity reasons. But, because I’m sure many of you are lazy just like me (I prefer “efficient,” thanks), I have linked the searches below. I have also included instructions just in case you need them.

Keywords: CantoneseCantonese Parent

Instructions:
a) Type “Cantonese” or “Cantonese parent” in the Facebook Search bar.
b) Click on “Groups” Tab to filter your search. (Alternately, you can click on the “Pages” Tab, too. But those are generally pages and not communities.)

So, without further ado, here are a few of the groups. Since I am not a member of these groups, I’m not sure how active they are. In general, I have paraphrased the descriptions they included for their groups. If I can find anything else about them without joining the groups, I also note it.

Cantonese Parenting Group – It seems to be a small group but I haven’t really checked it out (for obvious reasons). There are no public posts. But this group seems to be the most relevant.

Cantonese 粵語 (廣東話) 社團 – Not a parenting group, but a group dedicated to the Cantonese language. Originally comprised of Hong Kong immigrants to Canada, the group now welcomes Cantonese speakers from all over the world. The posts are all generally related to Cantonese and are posted in Simplified. (There may also be Traditional posts, but from the public ones I saw, I found only Simplified.)

Cantonese Playgroup for Parents and Toddlers in South Essex – Pretty self-explanatory, this playgroup is mostly for South Essex or East London parents with children aged between 1 and 5. The purpose is to let your children learn and practice Cantonese through play and for you to meet other Cantonese speaking parents. Since this group is very small, she plans on setting up a playgroup when there are enough people.

Cantonese for Parents and Children in South Essex – Again, self-explanatory. This playgroup is for parents (either fluent or can speak only a little Cantonese) who have children at pre-school age and wish to have other Cantonese speaking kids play with their children.

Informal events will be held on the first or second Saturday of the month in either East of London area or West Thurrock (mostly Lakeside Shopping Centre).

Bristol Cantonese Parents, Babies & Toddlers – This group is for English and Cantonese Parents, babies and toddlers in the Bristol area to connect, make friends and create opportunities and play dates to encourage Cantonese language and culture with their children.

They also post information about anything Chinese and/or family friendly in Bristol.

NW Cantonese Parents, Children, Families (UK) – For Cantonese speaking families in the North of England (well, Manchester and surrounding areas!) An informal and relaxed group, they are looking for fellow Cantonese (British-born or otherwise) parents so they can share experiences and to provide their children with the opportunity to meet others with similar family backgrounds/cultures.

They aim to arrange monthly/bi-monthly meets, family friendly and usually involving food whenever possible. Attendance is relaxed and non-compulsory – purely for fun and for meeting others.

Cantonese Conversation Circle – Seems geared more towards practicing Cantonese as an adult (as well as located in Toronto). I can only see the public posts (the last of which was 5-6 months ago) so I don’t know if they have other more recent posts. They meet approximately once a month at a Toronto woman’s house to practice conversational Cantonese. (They specify folks absolutely MUST be queer positive.)

Alright, that’s it for this edition of Facebook groups (Cantonese edition!). If you end up being inspired to start your own Cantonese language Facebook group, please let me know. I would love to feature it and get more members for you. Let me know in the comments, email me at virginia [at] mandarinmama [dot] com, or submit a comment via my Contact Page.

Have a great weekend!

Chinese Reading Tips

Happy Monday, friends! Truthfully, I had a different post in mind for today, but I’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work on the blog (mostly seeding and back-dating it with Chinese resources) so by the time it got to late Sunday night, I was too tired to finish a more “deep” post.

It’s just as well. Sometimes, we want fluff. Or at least, we want neutral.

So instead, I wanted to give a few tips on how I am trying to improve my reading in Chinese. (I’m sure many of these tips can work across the board regardless of language, but since I haven’t tried it, YMMV.)

Some background: I’m an ABC and went through twelve years of Saturday Chinese school back in the day when almost all Chinese schools taught Traditional (because the majority of Chinese people in the Bay Area were either from Taiwan or Hong Kong). I somehow managed to pass out of the first year of Chinese language instruction at UCLA and I never looked back. I wanted to learn Latin!

I was never very literate – but as long as books had zhuyin (the Taiwanese phonetic system), I could read everything but perhaps not understand what was being read. (Especially if the text were business, political, or medically focused.) Fast forward a few decades and now that I have children, I find myself rapidly hitting the horizon of my limited Chinese characters.

I’m still “ahead” of Cookie Monster, but soon, (like within the next year and a half), I will be eclipsed. I am already asking him what Simplified words are on his homework, I can only imagine what it will be like when he is actually learning words I either didn’t learn or didn’t retain due to lack of proper application and hard work.

Anyhow, these tips are actually for ME, an adult, but many of the same things apply for children as well. (How utterly mortifying.) Here then, are a few things I do to help increase my Chinese literacy:

1) Text in Chinese whenever possible.

Of course, this only works if the person you’re texting can also read/write Chinese. And, if you actually remember to do so. For now, I’m trying to text my mother in Chinese. Unfortunately, she texts back in English, but what can you do?

Because I can speak Chinese, texting on the phone is actually very easy – I either use my pinyin keyboard (since I can type English letters very quickly) or my zhuyin keyboard when I can’t figure out the pinyin.

It is much easier to text in pinyin, choose one of the words that pop up as suggestions, and then plug it into my message. For some reason, it is much easier for me to recognize the correct words than to write it from scratch.

When I am unsure which word is correct, I copy and paste into my Pleco app to figure it out. The times I have been too arrogant or deluded to do so, my mother has texted back, “????” or “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” and then the correct word I should have used. Enough times of those responses and I will take the extra time to double check!

I have to say, when I first started typing Chinese on the iPhone, it was pretty hard and I stopped every character or so to double check. It would take me more than ten minutes to write a simple sentence. But now that I’ve had more practice, I find myself recognizing more and more repeated words and having to rely on Pleco less and less.

This is the dominant way I have found to improve my Chinese reading skills because it uses the words I would use the most. Therefore, constant repetition reinforces my “new” word recognition.

How to type in Chinese:

If you have an iPhone, just go to: Settings > General > Keyboard. I choose Traditional Chinese Pinyin, Zhuyin, Handwriting, and Lookup by radical. Bonus: if you are in one of the international keyboards, you can use Siri to do Speech to Type.

I presume the Droid phones have similar instructions/features.

As for the computer, I try to avoid typing in Chinese whenever necessary. However, if I can’t avoid it at all, I turn on the Chinese keyboard for the Language bar and type that way. (It’s a real PITA.) Or, if super lazy, I either copy and paste into Google Translate, or I “write” it in on their “write” option and then copy and paste from the “translated” side.

2) Try to read a few headlines and the first paragraph of Chinese articles.

This is much actually much easier to do on the computer due to Chinese text annotation extensions in Chrome. If I don’t know the character (which is sadly, quite often), I hover over the character with Perapera and the pronunciation and definition pops up over the word. Very helpful, but very piecemeal. It takes a long time to go through a paragraph if I don’t know a lot of the characters.

As a result, I can usually only make it through the headline or the first paragraph before I get bored and frustrated. Since I am lazy, I do not often make the effort to go through the entire article. If I am really interested in the topic, I will either copy/paste into Google Translate, or I will have Google translate the page within the browser.

Yes, that is totally cheating. But I have three kids and limited free time. Sometimes, you just gotta cheat.

3) Join Facebook groups that practice Chinese.

Or any group, really. Whether it’s in person, through Facebook, or somewhere else online, this has been so helpful. I know I mentioned Mums Learn Mandarin Chinese in a previous post, so I won’t rehash it again, but suffice to say, every weekday morning, I practice writing a sentence using that day’s vocabulary word. Not amazing, but any bit helps!

4) Turn on Chinese subtitles.

I really don’t know why it took me so long to do so. I really think that’s why people in Taiwan can speak so many Chinese dialects (or at least, recognize the sounds). Since all the dialects use the same characters, the subtitles will pertain regardless of the dialect being spoken. So you have to actively try NOT to learn a language to NOT pick up a word or two.

In fact, my friend’s Chinese reading is so good because she would watch Chinese soap operas with her family and learned to read by following along below. I have only just remembered to do so for my children and for myself.

For some reason, I guess I just relegated subtitles to situations where we don’t understand the language being spoken. This obviously works for learning English, too. Hmmm… Maybe I should turn on the CC for my TV to teach my kids to read! (Yes, yes, yes. I am really that lazy!)

Ok. That’s all I have it in me to do today. (And likely, all that a person can stand to read, anyway.) Happy practicing!

More Chinese Language Facebook Groups

Last week’s post seemed to be very popular so I thought I would follow up with a few more Chinese language Facebook groups.

This time, I wanted to make sure that folks realized that the groups aren’t Mandarin only. They are Chinese specific and dialect agnostic. Of course, there are more resources for Mandarin, but that doesn’t mean Cantonese is out of the picture entirely! At least Hong Kong has many publishers and will have a lot of materials in Traditional (which is super useful for us die-hard Traditionalists).

Anyhow, here are two. (I did get some suggestions in the comments when I posted last week, but I’ll feature them in later posts. I have to get in a few of the groups first!)

1) 美國中英文雙語在家自學家庭 Chinese-English Bilingual Homeschoolers in America – Who knew there would be so many people like me out in the world? (Terrifying, isn’t it?) But it’s so great to have a group that is composed of people who are currently homeschooling or are thinking about homeschooling their children in a bilingual Chinese/English environment.

I have gotten so many good book recommendations on where to start with homeschooling, Chinese language curriculum/textbooks in multiple subjects, and useful articles. The members don’t post prolifically, but when they do, it’s insightful and generates lots of useful discussion.

A lot of members are also in the Bay Area, so I’ve gone to a meetup and hope to go again. Of course, there is lots of cross-pollination among the groups in general so you’ll find that the main participants are often big participants in other groups and there is some cross-posting. But it is a small universe.

2) Raising Bilingual/Multilingual Children – This group is not Chinese language specific but there are a decent number of parents on there who do bilingual/multilingual with Chinese as one of the languages. I gather that the majority of parents are European and I am super impressed with how many languages these parents are introducing. Some as many as four or more!

I find this group most helpful in terms of general information on bilingualism/multilingualism. They post a lot of articles, studies, and mostly cover parents asking and receiving advice in regards to raising their children multilingual. A lot of the questions involve teachers or family members not supporting multilingual lifestyles and how to either soldier on or deal with the ignorance and sometimes, outright racism.

What I also appreciate is that for the most part, the group actively refrains from topics that do not specifically address or pertain to raising bi/multilingual children. This is a great platform to exchange experiences, ask questions, and meet like-minded people. This is NOT a place to advertise. Posts that promote products, services etc. are removed and the person who does so is banned from the group.

Trust me when I say that it cuts down on a lot of spam.

Alright! That’s it for today. As always, I would love to hear about your personal experiences in these groups (please comment below!) since I acknowledge that my opinion isn’t the last word on any such group. If I missed a group or you have been so inspired as to start a group, please let me know, too!

Mandarin Immersion Facebook Groups

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.

Chinese Made Super Easy 2 Cover

Chinese Made Super Easy 2 Cover

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).

Chinese Made Super Easy 2 Table of Contents

Chinese Made Super Easy 2 Table of Contents

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!)

Chinese Made Super Easy 2 Sample Sentences

Chinese Made Super Easy 2 Sample Sentences

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.