Input Chinese on Your PC

Our elementary program begins with Chinese reading. Children first learn to recognize Chinese characters as images without the help of Pinyin. Later, when they develop the habit of reading Chinese characters as symbols, we will introduce Pinyin so that children will be able to type Chinese on computer.

In order to type Chinese on your computer, you need to be able to recognize the Chinese character and know its Pinyin. You also need to install a Chinese input application.

If you have PC, we recommend you use Google Pinyin which is free. It can be downloaded from here.

Once you see the following page, click on the blue button which means “Download Google Pinyin Input.”


Choose “Run” to begin the download.






A window will pop up. Check the box: “I accept” and click on “next.”


The installation will begin.


After the installation is finished, you will see the following window. The two boxes on the it means:

1. I am willing to send statistics which will help the improvement of Google Pinyin.

2. Launch setting navigation.

Check or uncheck two boxes, and click on “Finish.”


Now the Google Pinyin is successfully installed on your computer. To test it, open a word document. Use “Ctrl + Space” to change the language input mode. You will see a Chinese input window at right down the screen which indicates that the input mode now is Chinese.


When you are typing, you type Pinyin (without tone) on your keyboard, and the characters with the same Pinyin will pop up. Choose the number in front of the character. For example, if you want to input the character one (一), type “y i” on your keyboard. All the Chinese characters with the same Pinyin will pop up and “一” is the first one. And you choose 1, then the character will show on your word file.






How To Use Music To Do Shared Reading

Music can let children experience foreign language in a pleasurable and natural way. Young children are naturally “wired” for sound and rhythm.  At Chinese with Meggie, music is an indispensable part in the classroom. Besides singing songs with the CD player, we sing catchy tunes while doing shared reading. Below are two examples:

1. 八只猴子(Eight Silly Monkeys)

The recreated lyrics:

五只猴子跳跳跳。    (Five little monkeys jumping on the bed.)
一只猴子掉下来,     (One falls down on the ground.)
妈妈给医生打电话,    (Mother calls the doctor.)
不可以在床上跳跳跳。 (The doctor says, no more monkeys jumping on the bed.)…..

We borrowed the tune from Five Little Monkeys written by A.J. Jenkins.  Children have no difficulty picking up the following vocabularies and phrases when learning the song:
猴子(monkey), 跳 (jump), 医生 (doctor),  床 (bed), 打电话(make phone call),
掉下来 (fall down), 不可以 (not allowed to). And they will also learn to count numbers from 1 to 8.

2. 晚安,大猩猩(Good night, Gorilla)

The recreated lyrics:

猩猩偷走了钥匙,钥匙, 钥匙,猩猩偷走了钥匙,管理员不知道。
(Gorilla stole the key, key, key. Gorilla stole the key. The zookeeper doesn’t know)
(Gorilla let go the elephant, elephant, elephant. Gorilla let go the elephant. The zookeeper doesn’t know.)…..

The original song is the famous The Wheels On The Bus. The tune repeats the animal vocabularies a lot which makes it easy for children to memorize.


Click the following links and right click “save link as” to download the songs:

八只猴子 Eight Silly Monkeys

晚安大猩猩 Goodnight Gorilla


National Chinese Language Conference

“National Chinese Language Conference (NCLC) is the largest annual gathering practitioners, policymakers, and school leaders with an interest in Chinese language teaching and learning in North America.”

Representing Chinese with Meggie, Weiky, our new instructor, attended the fifth NCLC in Washington, DC this April.  Below is Weiky’s report on the conference.

This year’s theme was State of the Field: Proficiency, Sustainability, and Beyond.  Many Chinese language educators have discussed about what the successful models for early Chinese language learning program should look like.  Many of Chinese with Meggie’s practices correspond to the suggestions of experts in the field promoting early childhood total foreign language immersion.

Regarding teaching methodology, there were several sessions discussing how guided play, games, and arts can support language learning for preschoolers.  This methodology is, in fact, what Chinese with Meggie has always emphasized and applied in our classrooms: using play-based methods to expose our children to the target language even without their full awareness of the outcome of the learning process.

Besides the teaching methodology, what makes Chinese with Meggie stand out is our respect to each student’s learning differences.  During a discussion of effective differentiated instruction, some of our peers complained that even though they understood respecting individual difference could promote students’ learning process, they could hardly apply that when they were facing 15-20 youngsters at one time. Unlike most programs with 15-20 students, our small-sized class allows our teachers to closely work with 4-5 children at one time. In this way, we can pay attention to each individual’s learning needs and differentiate our instruction accordingly.  In addition, during a “data-sharing practice” session of the conference, the speakers encouraged teachers to work as a team to share students’ information, including teaching tips, students’ personalities, etc. At Chinese with Meggie, this practice is one of the core values of our teaching team.  Our teachers work closely as a team and rotate to teach the same class so that we can get to know each student in the school and share teaching tips for different children.  In addition to that, we also strive to expand our “data-sharing practice” by providing feedback to parents as well.  Besides updating parents on each child’s progress, we also encourage parents to provide any information that can assist us to better understand each child.  Parents can also use the materials we provide to work together with their children after class.  In this way, our teaching team has cooperated both teachers’ and parents’ efforts to make the learning process the most comfortable and effective for our students.

With more attention to early childhood Chinese language teaching and learning in North America, Chinese with Meggie is glad to be one of the pioneers in this emerging field of early childhood language instruction.

– Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

Greeting from Ms. Keyi — a New Instructor at Chinese with Meggie

Hi, my name is Keyi Qin. I am very excited to be a new instructor and curriculum developer at Chinese with Meggie.

I am originally from Shanghai, China, and I graduated from New York University’s graduate program in Foreign Language Education (Chinese). After graduation, I have taught in a high school and some private institutions in NYC. I recently came on board to Chinese with Meggie to start training. Here is what I want to share with you the main difference between Chinese with Meggie and the schools I have seen in New York.

First, Chinese with Meggie skips Pinyin instruction in teaching students in both immersion and elementary programs. Like many Chinese teachers, I was trained to believe that Chinese teaching “should” follow the pattern of teaching pinyin first and then Characters. Before, some teachers even told me that kids of or less than six years old have no aptitude to recognize Chinese characters. But for younger students, Pinyin instruction is not absolutely necessary because they have sharp ears that allow them to catch the characteristics of the pronunciation just as we pick up our mother tongue. In addition, young children have stronger visual learning capabilities than older students. They memorize characters as images. As the young students at Chinese with Meggie show, they are also quite able to recognize Chinese characters and to build up a visual vocabulary without ever encountering Pinyin. Pinyin is not an indispensable element in the class here. In this way, it gives children more room to learn Chinese characters and help them to build up a more well-round and authentic system of Chinese language.

Secondly, compared with traditional language instruction, Chinese with Meggie emphasizes a play-based method to immerse children in the target language. I have observed several kindergartens’ Chinese classes in some private elementary schools in New York where they taught vocabulary to the kids using Powerpoint. All the while, kids are fidgeting, talking and asking when the class will be finished. The teachers had to stop teaching and retain their attention regularly. The class usually lasted only for 30 min. If they had been one hour, it’s unimaginable how the teacher could last.  Here at Chinese with Meggie, students learn Chinese in a comfortable and warm environment. Students, both young kids and elementary students, sit on carpet to learn. Teachers would also take kids outside to the beautiful garden in a sunny weather. This reminds me of Suggestopedia, a foreign language teaching method developed by Georgi Lozanov. One of its main beliefs is that letting students to feel comfortable and confident in the physical environment is very important to their learning.  And the teacher should love her students and teach them with personal participation through games, songs, arts and pleasure.

Any specific school system carries with it the city’s impact. Chinese with Meggie’s approach reflects the spirit of innovation of Austin. Its focus on small class size and quality makes a real difference, and I’m excited to be here.

– Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

Review Chinese Characters with a Short Play

— Picture Book Series: Eat All Your Peas

Children in our elementary program get flashcards of Chinese characters each class. How to help them digest and practice these characters in class? One method we use is to make short plays with Chinese characters.

The following is an example of how we use the picture book 《吃掉你的豌豆》(Eat All Your Peas) to make short plays.

In this cute story, the girl does not like eating peas. The mom bribes her with chocolate factories, ice creams, rockets, zoos, pets etc. The mom in the book says: “如果你吃掉豌豆,我可以给你买冰淇凌/ 巧克力工厂/ 火箭…… (If you finish all your peas, I can buy you the ice cream/ the chocolate factory/ the rocket…” And the girl replies: “我不要冰淇凌/ 巧克力工厂/ 火箭! 我不爱吃豌豆! (I do not want to have ice cream/ chocolate factory/ rocket. I do not like eating peas!)” Children learn the sentence pattern: “我不要……!我不爱吃豌豆!” (I do not want…! I do not love peas!) They also learn different objects appear in the book.

Afterwards, they make a short play with their flashcards. The teacher plays the role of the mom, and the children play the role of the daughter. The teacher first says: “如果你吃掉豌豆,我可以给你买冰淇凌。 (If you finish your peas, I can buy you the ice cream.) ” The students then use their flashcards to make the sentence and say: “我不要冰淇凌! 我不爱吃豌豆! (I do not want to have ice cream. I do not like eating peas!)” The teacher then says: “如果你吃掉豌豆,我可以给你买巧克力工厂。(If you finish your peas, I can buy you the chocolate factory.” The children response both orally and with flashcards: “我不要巧克力工厂! 我不爱吃豌豆! (I do not want to have ice cream. I do not like eating peas!)” The short play covers all the pages in the picture book.

There are several benefits of using the short play to practice the language. First, it is a very vivid learning method combining both Chinese character reading and Chinese speaking. Second, the short play simulates a real situation for children to use the language. Instead of reading out the flashcard to the teacher, they get the chance of interacting with each other during the short play.

– Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

Bilingualism Enhances Self-Control

Recently we have come across an article on New York Times: Building Self-Control: the American Way by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang. The article describes parenting issues in general, but also touches on the benefits of language learning. Compared to monolingual children, bilingual children have advantages in developing self-control. As quoted from the article:

“Learning a second language strengthens mental flexibility, an aspect of self-control, because the languages interfere with each other and because children must determine which language the listener will understand. Bilingual children do well on tasks that require them to ignore conflicting cues, for example reporting that a word is printed in green ink even though it says ‘red.’ Bilingual children are better at learning abstract rules and reversing previously learned rules, even before their first birthday. People who continue to speak both languages as adults show these benefits for a lifetime.”

– Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

The Magic of Picture Books (IV) – The Use of Picture Books in Elementary Program

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.

Building up the Elements

It is easy for children to produce Chinese words, and not difficult to remember them. However, how to transit from simple Chinese words to phrases, or even long sentences? This blog is about how we help children build up simple elements to form complete sentences in our Chinese immersion classes.
Since we have small class sizes, our teachers know clearly the Chinese level of every child. Depending on every individual student’s Chinese level, teachers push each one of them to the next level.
For example, sentence structures such as “I want…” “I do not want…” which are used a lot in class and daily life settings are input first repeatedly. Nouns such as the names of fruits, animals are also among the priority. Most students begin to understand/repeat these essential and simple elements of the language in a very short time (such as after one or two classes based on our experiences.)
Once a child begins to produce Chinese, we continue to push his/her language learning further by introducing things one level further. According to the “Input Hypothesis,” when learners are acquiring a second language, if “i” is their current level of competence, they naturally progress towards “i+1” which is the level immediately following the i1.
For instance, after one child is capable of speaking “我要。(I want.)”, we push the child further to speak “我要熊。(I want the bear.)” Then gradually we push the student to speak “我要一只熊。(I want one bear.)” And later, the student will be capable of speaking “我要一只蓝色的熊。(I want one blue bear.)”
The first time of producing a long and complete sentence is usually hard. However, gradually, children comprehend each element of the sentence. They expand it further to sentences such as “我要两只蓝色的熊。(I want two blue bears.)”/ “我要一只绿色的熊。(I want one green bear.)”

1. For more information of Input Hypothesis, you may go to:

-Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

Human Interaction, Technology and Learning

Recently, we have come into two articles on the topic of technology, children’s growth and education. The first one is the A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute on New York Times:, while the second one is Troubling Toddlers Silenced with Apps from Daily Texan. You can find the original article here but with a different name:

While grown-ups nowadays are surrounded with technology without a choice, we still have to make choices for our little ones on whether to expose them to technology such as videos, iphone applications or not. The answer from our Chinese immersion classes is a “No.”

And the reason for that? We really value the “interaction” in language learning.

First, a lot of language learning resources such as cartoons and teaching videos are not interactive, and may even produce detrimental effects on children’s development. A study done by researchers at University of Washington shows that if an infant watches baby DVDs and videos for one hour per day, the infant will learn six to eight fewer new words than the one who does not watch the videos. Videos or DVDs do not provide necessary stimuli for infants’ brains and infants become passive information receivers when sitting in front of the screen.

Second, even if some high-tech applications and online courses are “interactive,” no one can take place of a classroom teacher.

Language is a social activity. One person speaks the words with information embedded in them, and the other person receives the words and extracts the embedded thoughts and feelings. The interaction process also happens along with other interactive signals such as body languages, facial expressions etc. In our immersion class, what our teachers create is exactly such a natural interaction process. For example, when a teacher asks a child to “穿鞋我们去外面。(Put on your shoes and let’s go outside),” she talks to the child with body languages and facial expressions. Meanwhile, she expects the response from the child. Her following reactions to the child depend on how the child reacts to her information. The uniqueness of immersion classes lie in interactions like this: children are put into the Chinese language environment, and learn through natural interactions with other human beings.

-Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

Elementary Program (I) – From Reading to Speaking

Every week, our elementary children are introduced to one picture book. The class is organized following the language learning order of “input –> output”. Thus, they are exposed to Chinese characters and sentence structures from the particular picture book first and then they are required to produce the story by themselves using what they just learned.

In the academic field, scholars have emphasized the function of “output” in second language learning. Particulary in the case of language learning, the “output” is not viewed as a product, but as a process. It can be defined as the process of language learners producing language with their existing knowledge of the language (Swain, 2007.) Therefore, they are pushed to evaluate their existing knowledge of the target language, and think about what more they need to know/ learn.

For example, in our last blog, we have introduced a picture book called The Rainbow Flower. As a matter of fact, the book is not only used in our immersion program, it is also used in our elementary program.

The students are first introduced to the story. For this book, they learn to recognize Chinese characters for “红色,黄色,蓝色,绿色,橙色,紫色” (red, yellow, blue, green, orange, and purple) as well as characters for “蚂蚁,老鼠,蜥蜴,鸟,刺猬” (ant, mouse, lizard, bird, and hedgehog.) And then they learn the sentence structures such as: “小老鼠问小花:‘小花小花,你可以不可以给我一片花瓣?’,小花说:‘可以可以。’” (The little mouse asked the little flower: “Little flower, little flower, would you please give me a pedal of yours?” The little flower responded: “Sure.” )

After that, students are required to tell the story by themselves following the book. In this step, they are experiencing the language output with the knowledge input to them just now.


Note: Swain, (2007) Retrived from 10.21.2011

-Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas