This is highly recommended and a must-have resource for every single Chinese-speaking family in Singapore, and I absolutely mean it!
It's definitely useful for child and adult learners of any age in Singapore.
天下无难事，只怕有心人。I can see how this can support parents and grandparents who want to speak more Mandarin at home with their kids but feel that they lack the vocabulary to do so. This is a great resource to help!
Over the years while observing my 3 kids, I've found that to acquire new vocabulary effectively, it really helps if learning
- has a context - in a setting with related scenario, place or usage, not introduce random words on their own
eg to learn about 手 and parts of our hands, we can talk about things we do with our hands, things we can hold with our hands, things we should or should not do with our hands
- is experiential - best if it's in real life, something that my child can experience with his or her senses
eg learn about fruit and vegetables by shopping for them or eating them
- is associated with a memory - best if with family or friends! Perhaps during mealtime, grocery shopping, meal prep, playdate, family outing
eg learn about words related to 中秋节 by choosing and carrying lanterns on evening walk, buying or making mooncakes to share with family and friends
- is tailored to our local setting - I've recently realised the importance of this! There is no confusion whether we should say
spoon 汤匙 or 勺子,
rubbish 垃圾 lā jī or lè sè,
pineapple 黄梨 or 菠萝
bicycle 脚踏车 or 自行车
potato 马铃薯 or 土豆
because this aspect has been considered!
This picture dictionary is written based on the Ministry of Education, Singapore's latest Primary School Chinese syllabus (2015). Every single scenario is tailored perfectly to the local setting, with terms thoughtfully chosen to reflect local lingo and norms.
The book is divided into 10 themes.
Here are some of our favourites and samples of topics covered:
- 学校 School - 教室 / 课室 Classroom, 食堂 Canteen / Tuckshop, 病休室 Sick Bay, 厕所 Toilet
- 家 Home / House - 家庭树 Family Tree, 厨房 Kitchen, 家务 Household Chores, 邻里设施 Neighbourhood Facilities
- 我 About Myself - 身体 Body, 生日 Birthday, 游戏 Games, 爱好 Hobbies
- 公共场所与设施 Public Places and Facilities - 游乐场 Playground, 小贩中心 Hawker Centre, 巴刹 Market, 地铁站 MRT station
- 学习之旅 Learning Journey - 动物园 Zoo，飞禽公园 Birdpark, 新加坡著名景点 Singapore Attractions
- 节日 / 节庆活动 Festivals / Events - 农历新年 Chinese New Year，中秋节 Mid-Autumn Festival，圣诞节 Christmas Day
- 其他 Others - Numbers 数字，Directions 方向，Singapore Currency 新加坡货币，Punctuation 标点符号
Features we love:
- Chinese term, Hanyu Pinyin and English translation included for all nouns featured - perfect for self-directed learning, and for us parents who are working on our Mandarin too
- Includes vocabulary from our local Primary School Chinese curriculum - this will give children a headstart in oral vocabulary to 听 and 说 better, before subsequent 读 and 写 comes along! We have fun finding parallel pages from 欢乐伙伴 textbook and this bilingual picture dictionary
- 78 daily-life scenarios that are familiar to families in Singapore, especially for kids!
- About 1000 commonly used nouns 名词, with related measure words 量词, collective nouns 集合名词, and verbs 动词
- Accompanying mobile app (Android & iOs platforms) makes learning intuitive – listening to audio playbacks and learning verbs through animation. The audio especially helpful for parents learning alongside our kids, to familiarise with the intonations, so that we can use these terms accurately in our daily family conversations
- English-Chinese index provided at the end of the book - I love that there are 2 versions, index sorted by Chinese words' hanyu pinyin, and another arranged in alphabetical order for English words. So helpful! The other day I couldn't remember the Chinese term for "Flamingo" and my 6 year old located it on his own through the English index at the end of the book!
- Contents page is thoughtfully categorised - The other day my 6 year old wanted to look for the page on "Hobbies", so he went to the contents page, to the section "About Myself" and he could locate the information quickly and independently!
Ways to use this book, tested and trialed with my kids of ages 1.5, 6 and 8:
- Let kids randomly flip through and check out any topics you're interested in. Perfect for on-the-go learning or rainy days.
- Zoom into topics or things that we know the child likes eg favourite animal, colour, food, place of attraction
- Reference what we already experienced to aid in recall and to give a meaningful context - eg learn about fruit after we recently ate fresh rambutan from a tree, spot pandas in the pages after an outing to see them in River Safari, compare real banknotes and coins against the specimens in the book after child runs an errand to buy something
Gently introduce a new topic, theme, upcoming festival or outing!
eg before National Day, to learn about our flag, pledge, local tourist attractions, local food. Before Mid-Autumn festival, to look at different types of lanterns, learn that Chinese like to pair mooncakes with Chinese tea etc. This helps us work on increasing intentional and meaningful language input for our kids!
- Jumpstart deeper learning with intrinsic motivation - This book covers a great breadth of topics, suitable for a child to browse and take charge of learning. He can choose what he'd like to learn more about!
- Share stories about my own childhood and past, using pictures as conversation starters - eg while reading the page on Games, I share with the kids that I used to play five stones with my friends in primary school. While reading about Family Tree for extended family members, I share that I had problems remembering terms for specific granduncles and grandaunts during Chinese New Year gatherings :P
- Do some hands-on activities - eg make a simple craft after learning about pets, discussing what would make a great pet and why, give it a name. Make a salad for lunch after learning about vegetables.
The only downside to this book I can think of is that it comes in softcover. If it were hardcover with slightly sturdier pages, this would be perfect!
Recommended for Ages: 1 and up
Language: Bilingual - Simplified Chinese and English, Hanyu pinyin