In our previous picture book series, we introduced the use of picture books in our immersion program. As a matter of fact, picture books are also important learning materials in our Chinese classes for elementary students.
One of the major goals of Chinese with Meggie’s elementary program is to develop children’s Chinese reading skills. However, instead of following Chinese text books, we make use of picture books. We find that a picture book makes the learning fun and flexible. Here is how we combine picture books with Chinese reading teaching.
Usually, one 1-hour elementary session features one picture book. We choose the picture books with a repetitive structure. Every page features one or several descriptive sentences. A series of flashcards accompanies every book. For example, the famous picture book “The Old Woman Swallows a Fly” is used with our elementary students. One of its pages has the following descriptive sentences: “老婆婆吞了一只苍蝇。老婆婆的肚子里有一只苍蝇。怎么办？” (The old lady swallows a fly. There is a fly in the old lady’s stomach. What to do with it?) After finishing the whole books, the series of flashcards children get includes old lady, swallow, stomach, all the insects appeared in the book, and “What to do with it.”
After each class, students are able to use Chinese flashcards to make sentences accompanying each page. They are also able to tell the story orally.
Children are easily attracted to the picture books which makes learning fun. Also, since there are so many great picture books out there, the teaching becomes flexible. The most important of all, children are highly motivated after completing one book after another.