We’ve had 8 weeks of class. But we only officially finished week 5 of the Kang Xuan zhuyin textbook. It kind of evened out to 3 “classes” per chapter.
I recently realized, Taiwan spents 10 weeks, 5 days a week on zhuyin （國文課), this means children are expected to know zhuyin after about 50 classes. I calculated that Astroboy will have had 51 classes by mid December. He’s not at the level that first graders are doing, at least from the samples I see. It’s hard for him because he can’t hold a pencil to write for long. But he’s so close to reading better. So it sounds about right to me.
We’ve been hunkering down to just practice our zhuyin these last few weeks. (We also took a week off) We learned ㄒㄕㄟㄡㄦ ㄧㄠ ㄨㄢ ㄋㄍㄞㄥ ㄧㄚ ㄧㄡ ㄧㄤ. More than half way!
Typically, our class starts with the zhuyin song, I review by asking the kids to spell a few words themselves, we then practice by either working on recognition of the zhuyin character itself, spelling/writing, or reading. The children have now gotten the routine down and they can even lead the songs themselves while I just watch.
I’ve been feeling like a boring teacher. But at the same time, I knew with the quick pace we were going, and the kids not having time to do their homework, we needed to spend time in class practicing. Plus with all the characters introduced (29 zhuyin!), the kids are starting to get confused and needed some reinforcements.
Game #1 Guess the Zhuyin
For symbol recognition, we’ve been playing zhuyin goldfish, zhuyin bingo, and the latest game I learned from another teacher, Guess The Zhuyin. I really love this game because it’s working on the third step of the learning process: recall.
The way this works is that you hold a stack of zhuyin flashcards in your hands vertically. You then slowly pull one card up inch by inch. The child has to guess what zhuyin symbol it is as fast as they can. Each child gets two tries so that they’re not randomly saying every zhuyin there is under the sun. When they do it every well, I will turn the card upside down for them to guess. This way they’re forced to pay attention.
Most other times, I make up games on the spot, depending on what I think the kids need to work on. For example, one time, I had each child draw their own picture, with their zhuyin, and then the other child has to read what they drew and wrote. It’s not even a game because the answer is right there! But the kids still love drawing and writing. Often, we draw flashcards and maybe think of names related to that card, or spell with that card. And last week, I had the kids each draw a consonant card, while I put down the vowel zhuyin. Each kid then had to try and blend the two cards, figuring out if that sound actually exists.
Blending non-existent words is actually another great way to practice. Because the sound doesn’t exist, sometimes they really have to think and work hard to blend them together. We’ve started using the zhuyin booklet I made for this purpose.