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.






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

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 New Program at Chinese with Meggie: Advance Immersion (III)

A Classroom Snapshot

In our previous two blogs, we have introduced briefly about the new program at Chinese with Meggie: the Advance Immersion. How does a Chinese class of this program look like? This blog is a snapshot about one of our classes on Butterfly. We have prepared 2 sessions for this theme. Each session lasts for 2 hours.

The first session is focused on the body parts of butterflies. Children first finish a butterfly puzzle. Then they are given flashcards of “触角(antenna),” “复眼 (compound eye),” “足 (foot)” etc. They put the flashcards on the corresponding parts of their butterfly puzzle. Through this process, they listen to these new words and also see new Chinese charaters. Then they make a butterfly collage. During the craft-making, they review the vocabulary again.

The second session is focused on the life cycle of butterflies. Children read one fiction and one non-fiction book on the topic. Through reading, they learn “蛹(egg),” “毛毛虫(caterpillar),” “茧(pupa),” “蝴蝶(butterfly).” To help them remember the four stages, there is a nursery rhyme with the four key words. Then it is the craft time. They make an egg on a leaf, a caterpillar, a pupa with paper. They stick the three items onto a paper plate along with the butterfly they made last class. Then they either copy, or stick the Chinese flashcards provided by the teacher onto the plate.



The New Program at Chinese with Meggie: Advance Immersion (I) — A Brief Introduction

The New Program at Chinese with Meggie: Advance Immersion (II) — Why and Who?

– Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

The New Program at Chinese with Meggie: Advance Immersion (II)

Why and Who?

We develop the Advance Immersion program for several reasons. First, we have several 4 to 5 years olds who have been in our Regular Immersion Program during the past several years. Through our Regular Immersion Program, they have are already capable of understanding classroom instructions, and can interact with teachers as regard to simple daily conversations. They need something new in class to boost their Chinese to the next level.

Second, even though those 4 or 5 years old are ready for a boost in their Chinese, they are not ready for our elementary program which is designed for older children. Instead of learning through flashcard recognition, we think these 4 to 5 years olds need to learn through play. However, we need to provide more structured and complicated “play” than what we currently have in our regular immersion classes.

Third, since those children have already developed their Chinese skills in our Regular Immersion Program. They are capable of being in a 100% Chinese classroom.

Because of the above three reason, we think it is a good time to start the new program.

Who are eligible for the Advance Immersion Program? At the end of each semester, we select children from our regular immersion classes. When selecting, we mainly consider a child’s maturity and Chinese skill. The child should be ready to learn something new and challenging in Chinese. The child should also be willing to commit some time outside of the classroom for their Chinese learning.

The New Program at Chinese with Meggie: Advance Immersion (I): An Introduction

– Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

The New Program at Chinese with Meggie: Advance Immersion (I)

An Introduction

This semester, we have started a new program called Advance Immersion. Four of our current students have begun a new journey of Chinese learning in this brand-new program.

Unlike our Regular Immersion Program where classes are made up of independent short or long activities, Advance Immersion is theme-based. Children meet for 2 hours every week. They focus on one theme every 2 to 3 weeks. Under each theme, children participate in a series of activities and learn vocabulary related to the particular theme. Some possible themes include the Life of a Butterfly, Our Solar System etc.

Through carefully designed curriculum, we hope children in this program can expand their Chinese vocabulary in a systematic way.

There is another important feature distinguishes the new program from the Regular Immersion Program. Children are also exposed to Chinese character reading in Advance Immersion Program. They get flashcards of Chinese characters after each class. We hope children in this program think Chinese reading is fun once they start it.

The New Program at Chinese with Meggie: Advance Immersion (II): Why and Who?

– Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

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

The Benefits of a Small Class II – How to Make Use of It

As we have talked in last blog, there are several benefits in keeping the class size small in our case. However, as a smaller class size means a greater individuality, simply dividing 10 children into 3 groups does not mean we will achieve all that we expect from a small class size.

Children learn differently. If a large class size minimizes differences, a small class size maximizes them. Therefore, students should be grouped smartly and teacher should make sure they learn.

First, our old and new students are mixed together. Grouping new and old students together helps creates a language environment and it is especially effective in a language classroom. The first benefit is that new students will be motivated and in many cases repeat our old students’ Chinese. Also, our old students can sometimes be little teachers in class. For instance, they can tell a picture book story to new students with the help of the teacher.

Second, to make full use of a small group size, the teacher offer individual time to every student in class. The individual working time is both short and intensive. It can be going through a series of fruit flashcards with students individually, or it can be interact with one student about what interests him/her particularly. The individual working time is short, which lasts about less than one minute in most cases. However, it yields great benefits: First, the particular student gets very intensive language practice catered to his/her learning interests; and second, the other students in class are also listening and learning.

-Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas

How We Benefit From a Small Class Size

At the very beginning, it is necessary to point out that even though parents tend to think that students can always be benefited from a small class size, not all studies support such a conclusion. On the other hand, a large class size has some of its own advantages: better preparation for college environment, better social opportunities, and greater efficiency in the use of education resources.

Smaller does not simply equals better, but it IS better only when it matches with certain teaching style and class environment. As reflected in our teaching practice, we find that a small class size works especially well with our teaching method and here is why.

First, in our classroom, students are not fixed on tables or chairs. They are free to move around the rug. However, there should still be an order in the classroom. Too many students will make it hard to achieve the order. Under such a condition, a small class size means that a balance can be achieved between the freeness of students and the teaching authority.

Second, small class size helps teachers design more group-specific activities. Not every student enjoys every single game. A small class size lets teacher cater to every student’s interests as it allows the teacher to avoid games that the specific group of students may not enjoy.

Third, when it comes to language teaching, smaller class size means that children get more opportunities in interacting with the teacher. In order to learn, children need interactive language situations and conversations that are pitched to their level. For instance, when reading a picture book with a group of four children, the teacher can interact with every child when reading verbally or physically; while with a group of ten, interacting with every student while reading only makes the reading procedure long and tiresome for students.

-Chinese with Meggie Language School, Austin, Texas