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Have you ever wondered what it looks like to learn Chinese in China and Taiwan in 1st grade?

April 2, 2018

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I love the Internet. You can find anything (well, most things) there, and things you never thought you’d find. And people spend tremendous amounts of time and thought writing up answers to questions you’ve always wondered about Just Because It’s Cool.

Take this blog post, “The Battle of the First Grade Chinese Textbooks: China vs. Taiwan vs. States”

A Chinese-American mom gives a great introduction to the textbooks used by beginning students in China, Taiwan and in U.S. in a lot of heritage classrooms.

She shows pages out of the textbooks, discusses what they teach, how many characters, what they expect of kids and generally how literate they get.

Note that the U.S. textbooks she talks about, 馬立平, are used in Chinese Saturday schools for kids who come from Chinese-speaking households where the parents (generally) read and write Chinese. So it’s not really fair to make a comparison between what those schools do and what immersion schools do. But it’s kind of fascinating to see what’s expected of kids in those schools.

All in all it’s a great look at the similarities and differences between China and Taiwan.

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A few notes:

The “zhuyin” she refers to is also known as Bopomofo, the phonetic syllables used in Taiwan to help kids learn to read characters. In China they use pinyin.

Later on she says “The one extra difference that people in China learn is 唐詩.” That’s the Tang Dynasty poems that your kid will probably memorize at some point in their school career. All literate people in China know a bunch of these and can recite them. Using lines from them in your speech makes you sound educated (which you are if you can do that, of course.) In China they’re build into the curriculum starting in grade school.

It’s a great blog posting and you can read it here.

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