Tag Archives: chinese

Reading is awesome


I got a phone call while in Chinese class last Monday morning from my son’s 2nd grade teacher.

I panicked for a moment, since I am mostly called if there is a problem, such as the time my daughter was running on the playground, crashed into a kid and I had to meet the grandma at the school to go to the hospital with him and get a cursory check up.

Fortunately this was not the case, and after a couple of tries I finally realized they wanted me to come and give a 5-10 minute speech to a group of parents at the national Read to Your Child Day event.


The reason?   They notice that all of our foreigner children pull out a book-often a thick book-to read while they’re waiting for something, and wanted to hear my thoughts on what we do to get our kids to read.

I feel like this was a cumulative reflection of our 4-5 expat families who have attended this school for the past 2.5 years, and our desire is to be as involved with the community as we can be as relative outsiders.  It was truly an honor.

So I scramble to get my thoughts down in Chinese, and a coworker at our clinic who I’ve helped quite a bit with English proofreading, leaped at the opportunity to help me do my Chinese.

reading day (1)

It was a joy to share my thoughts on reading with over 100 parents in this room, plus some of the administrators.  It’s one of the topics I’m passionate about, and there’s no way to go wrong by spending 20 minutes a day reading with your child.

Here are a couple of links to get you started:

Reach out and Read


School aged children 

Not only are books and reading helpful for language development and school readiness, but there are other more intangible benefits for children and their caregivers:

  1.  They feel safe and secure while snuggling up with you and a book, creating positive memories and a strong parent-child bond
  2. Their imaginations can soar as they explore places they might never see in real life
  3. The soothing routine of a book can alleviate stress and anxiety, help children cope with trauma and even be therapeutic.

So now, go and read with your kiddo!




I’m So Sorry…对不起!


This is a must-see video about learning Mandarin.

With excellent harmonies as well.

Please note the reactions of the unsuspecting extras–the funniest bit!


Code Switching


A couple weeks ago we were having dinner with some friends.

The wife is Chinese, the husband is American, and they just moved back here this past fall after 12 years in the US along with their 6 year old daughter S.

S is of course bilingual, but like many kids raised in the non-mother-tongue country prefers to speak English. As do mine.  So they all chatter away in English.

Well, after the meal the mom suddenly noticed that all the kids were sitting near the couch, and muttering to each other in Chinese.

“I didn’t do it.”

“Neither did I.”

“Who did?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did she do it?”

“My mom will be mad.”

Then they started back on the Barbies again, and started playing, still in Chinese.
Suddenly one of them said, “Why are we speaking Chinese?  We can speak English now.”
“Ok, let’s do it.”  And they switched back into English again.

The final piece to the puzzle?

After we left, my friend was tidying up, and noticed one of the remote controls was face down splattered with spaghetti and sauce, covered with a napkin.


If we speak in Chinese, nobody will realize that something happened.

Brain plasticity and bilingual childhoods are fascinating phenomena.