Book Review: 我家就是國際學校 My Home is an International School

internationalschoolI finally got my hands on the book 我家就是國際學校 My Home is an International School this afternoon.  I devoured it in an hour.  It will require a reread probably.

This is a book written by a Polish homeschooling mom and her Taiwanese husband, about their trilingual (Mandarin, English, and Polish) homeschooling journey in Taiwan.  The mom, Dorota, has a Masters in Chinese. And obviously she learned English (starting from middle school?) in Poland. She has two kids, a girl and boy and is Montessori trained.  The old one is 18 this year.  That was one reason I  had been eyeing the book for 2+ years, since I’m trying to do bilingual Montessori homeschooling.   I had also heard in an interview how she had to figure out how to work with her son’s learning style, which was different from her daughter’s.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Book Review: 小熊 Little Bear

Age:5
Grade Level: 0-6 yrs old (read to), 1st grade (read)
Pages: 59
Sage Level: Level 3 (orange series) book 3
Publisher: Grimmes Press

little bear

This year, I’m super happy that there are so many children I know who are using Sagebooks and learning zhuyin.  Though some of us don’t live close to each other, I can see their children’s progress via FB.  To me, it’s kind of like a virtual classroom.  Having a community of learners makes learning Chinese so much relevant to my children.

Continue reading

Audio: 寫給兒童的世界歷史 The Children Can Read World History

Age: 8
Grade: 3rd and up

wsoftw1

A few weeks ago, I borrowed Story of the World for Thumper on audio tape.  I first heard about it through What Did We Do All Day.  She uses it with the Writing with Ease curriculum.  We’ve not gone that route yet, instead just listening in the car when we run out of things to listen to.

Thumper has been begging to listen to this series, along with Magic Treehouse.  I dole it out though because she’s been speaking way too much English and doesn’t seem to remember what she’s reading in Chinese.

Last week, I finally decided to look at my saved podcasts and re-discovered my Children Can Read World History podcasts from ximalaya.com that I’d saved months ago.  We listened to the first 6-7 stories in the car and I’m amazed at just how closely it hews to Story of the World, though the content is sometimes different.

Continue reading

Books: Magic Treehouse 神奇樹屋

mth1Age:  8
Grade: 3rd-4th (中年級)
Pages: 100+
About a year ago, in my haste to get Thumper to start reading, I had her try and read a passage from Magic Treehouse.  She refused to after a few lines.  My daughter is not the type to painstakingly work through a book chapter by chapter, like some children I know, in order to read.   Not knowing zhuyin well was one factor, with the other being comprehension.

I guess all things have its own time.  We found the set at Oakland Asian Library more than a month ago.  Noone had checked it out!  The first time I checked out 10 books and the last time 15.  We’re almost done with Oakland’s set of 35 books.  Sadly, though other regional libraries have them (San Francisco Public being one of them), they’re not available through my local Link+.

Continue reading

Book: My Friends 我的朋友

Age:5
Grade Level: 0-6 yrs old (read to)
Pages: 31
Sage Level: Level 2 (green series) book 2

This week, I’m try a new routine where Astroboy needs to read to me for about 5 minutes a day.  Still not sure if this is the right thing to do as I hate taking away the spontaneous reading of books, painstakingly spelling out zhuyin, he does every few days when he’s in the mood and I know making him read daily will take that away.

Continue reading

康軒國語學習自修 Kang Xuan Mandarin Self-study books

kangxuan textbooks
As I mentioned in my post about Kang Xuan’s top945 magazine, Kang Xuan is a publisher of textbooks in Taiwan.  It is what students use in the classroom.  The other two are 南一 and 翰林.

The self-study books

Over the summer I bought 1st-3rd grade of their Mandarin self-study book on a friend’s recommendation, as well as the 3rd grade Science self-study book.  In Taiwan science starts in 3rd grade.  In 1st and 2nd, students use a Daily Living textbook instead.

My plan is to somehow use these to study after Sagebooks.  We’re not doing Greenfield for Thumper because those books are too short.  Those Greenfield books are meant for preschoolers who are learning massive number of characters.  If I don’t end up using them, at least they’re reference material for grammar.

I bought the Science self-study book primarily to help me with nomenclature I need in the classroom.  Otherwise I tend to spend hours researching on the Internet for the correct Chinese nomenclature with the problem that there are often 1) different ways to say the same thing when you translate from English, and 2) different levels of vocabulary taught due to a child’s grade level.  By this I mean, maybe in elementary they only teach you 5 vocabulary for parts of the plant, and then in high school it’s 10.  But I would have no way of knowing which ones are taught in elementary without a textbook.  When I was doing research on my moon unit, I found that some schools do not like the Kang Xuan science textbooks due to nomenclature and how things are taught.

I only took pictures of the Fall semester since the format for each school year is about the same.  They all come with a CD.  Since these are self-study books, there are also answers at the back of the book.  These pics are textbooks for the 2014-2015 school year.

In Taiwan, the Educational Ministry sets characters learned at 300 per grade for writing and 400 for reading.  So each textbook will cover about that much.  There is no set order of character introduction so you may see

Where to buy them

The Self-Study books are divided into two books.  One for each semester.  Kang Xuan publishes a new one every semester.  I’ve been told by the US distributor that books usually become unavailable by the end of the 2nd month of the semester in the local bookstores.  They only print so many.  So if you want to find them you just call around.  So basically, if you want to buy one full school year’s worth, you need to buy early enough each semester from Taiwan.  

If you go to Taiwan, I believe you would find them in textbook stores like 三民 (San Min).  They have two physical stores in Taipei.  And here’s a list of where all the textbooks are sold in Taiwan!   You can see a lot of them are on 重慶南路.

There are free electronic versions you can use if you can navigate in Chinese.  But they don’t look the same as the print version.

You can also buy Kang Xuan books online through their online website.   They will ship to the US by air. I’ve also been told that they don’t list real time inventory on this website.  (Don’t quote me on it)  But I had more luck finding books on their online website when the bookstores were out.

Lastly, you can go through their US distributor.  However, as of now, the distributor is only willing to buy if you group order.  He does not want to hold inventory since these books have a very short shelf life of ONE semester!  That’s what I’m trying to do, organizing group orders.

Continue reading

Magazine: 康軒學習雜誌 top945

The other magazine my friend lent me is 康軒學習雜誌.  Kang Xuan 康軒 is one of the 3 major textbook publishing companies in Taiwan.  I recently found out they have a distributor in the U.S.  Since another friend asked me to find out about prices, I looked into them for her.

According to my Kang Xuan supplier, the top945 magazine has more subscribers than 巧虎 Qiao Hu in elementary.   I don’t love the top945 layout or their characters.  I can see it is a bit different from elementary Qiao Hu.  As other parents have noted, the focus is on more current events.  So I guess one would get different magazines for different types of needed vocabulary.

Info: bi-monthly, 24 issues per year.  Focus is more on current events and daily living 時事和日常生活.

Age:  Kang Xuan has 3 versions, 3-6, 1st-3rd, 4th-6th.  The info I have is for the 1st-3rd grade.

Versions:  You can also buy past issues for $205 (24 issues), including shipping.  There are also online versions.

Cost: The cost is on the last age.  The distributor here is willing to lower the price by doing a group order of 10 people and shipping it only 12 times a year instead of 24.  This way it’ll be $299 ($9300 NT) instead of the $337 ($10470 NT).

Continue reading