Zhuyin Week 2

Week 2  ㄈㄏㄓㄔㄨㄚㄜ is introduced.

When I was making my flashcards, I realized that 康軒 is introducing these zhuyin based on frequency.  For sure, ㄠ is actually one of the most occurring sounds.  I thought it would have been ㄚor ㄧ or ㄨ.  I guess because those are learned first in a way with family names like 爸爸 媽媽.

I would have thought reviewing 3 times each lesson is too much, but I’m finding that it’s actually a good number.  Because each time you can add something new to it, from remembering the symbols to beginning sounds to blending.  So, we’re actually progressing really fast with this class, with only 1.5-2.5 classes spent per 6 zhuyin. I may need to adjust the speed later on.   For Astroboy, it’s the ending sounds and tones I’m working on.

This week, we started by watching a tongue twister video.  We didn’t watch the whole thing, just the story part.  The second class, we watched this video again and reviewed it again.  The tongue twister was then assigned as homework, where Astroboy had to write down the tone himself.

媽媽騎馬, 馬慢, 媽媽罵馬。

Then we officially started the class with our zhuyin song, modified from the following video:

zhuyin blackboard

Zhuyin display to sing along to

Immediately after, I worked on tones, trying to add the tones to the tongue twisters video we watched. Sometimes Astroboy needed a reminder with the hand gestures.  The more we practice, the more he’s getting it.

The first class, I review the first 6 zhuyin and unofficially introduce the second 6. The second class, we reviewed these zhuyin by having the kids go up to the whiteboad to try and spell the vocabulary introduced.  Basically there is one flashcard used for each zhuyin.

Song: 大白鵝

Then it’s the Welcome Song, plus listening to both this week and last week’s songs related to the lesson:

Game #1: Symbol recognition, Beginning sounds, reading


Finally, we worked on a game for a long time where all the picture flashcards related to the 12 sounds they’ve learned are laid out.  Astroboy had to find the ones and categorize them.  He got all of the vowels (finals).  Then he had to find the related zhuyin spelling.  So we are really working on 3 things, recognizing the symbols (since there’s now 12), hearing beginning sound, and finally reading.

When I was designing the picture flashcards, I realized I really need to use pictures where the first word is related to the sound I’m teaching.  Otherwise when the sound is in the second character of a word, it confuses the children.  The second thing is only use words with 2 zhuyin, unless I’m teaching a compound finals, which I’m calling diphthong since it’s kind of like 2 vowels combined together, though it’s more like one medial and one final.

This took us a long time and sometimes Astroboy can’t hear the sound.  I can also see how tones is this new thing he’s working on because he is always trying to find the tone and the ending sound when he spells now.  Reflecting back, I think he actually does much better writing (spelling) than reading.  Because eventually he found this exercise daunting (“I’m bored!”) since there were so many white labels to wade through to find the ones he needed for the picture.   Makes sense when you think about how writing comes before reading in Montessori.

Activity #1

One thing I learned from the tutor was to have the children do something that seems un-related to zhuyin, but because it’s hands on work, it helps reinforce the vocabulary and zhuyin.  For example, we made a lot of rice balls in the summer for ㄈㄢ`.    This time, we’re folding paper airplanes for ㄈㄟ ㄐㄧ.

We repeated this activity again the following class.  Astroboy spent a long time after class finishing his plane.  He had to draw a zhuyin card, think of a word that starts with that, and use it to name his plane.

Wow, for lesson #2, we didn’t do many activities, just long activities.  I’m concentrating on recognizing sounds and tones.   The kids are starting to write and spell.

Some Aha’s

I woke up last night and couldn’t go back to sleep, thinking about why Astroboy has been able to pick up spelling really quick.  Finally, I realized that it was because I spent a good chunk of time last year working on these sounds aurally.  I’ve mentioned it before.  When we take walks, I would point to different things we see and we would figure out 1) what the beginning sound is, and eventually 2) how to spell it.  This way, once we introduced the symbols, it was fairly easy.  He’s starting to spell 3 zhuyin words now verbally.   For me, it reinforces what I keep thinking, that aural preparation is so important, be it for zhuyin or spoken Chinese.

Another thing that was confounding me was how the children could not get the 5 different tones despite the gestures and what not.  I know part of it is practice.  But I also realized this morning that it’s just confusing to the children.  Every time they don’t know the tones, I just repeat all 5 tones, and kind of expect them to get a match easily.  We’re not working on hearing the tones in a very methodical and slow way.  They get the 4th tone and first most of the time, but the 2nd and 3rd is hard.

My aha moment this morning was that I need to break down the steps like how Montessori designs all of her activities.  

For his homework, where he had to put in the tone marks, I whipped out my zhuyin cheat sheet.

zhuyin reference sheet

Then I thought of a Montessori-esque presentation on the spot.

  1. Say the word you want to find the tone for.  ㄇㄚˇ
  2. Point to the first tone on the zhuyin cheat sheet
  3. Pause to see if we hear a match
  4. Nod or shake head.  Repeat steps #2-#4 for rest of tone until a match is found.

Going to try this at my next class to see if it makes a difference!


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