Vivian’s story – Learn Chinese characters directly

This week’s Parent Spotlight is Vivian Chen. She and her husband are raising two bilingual daughters in London. Her goal was to finish Sagebooks for both her daughters before they started mandatory schooling at 4 years old.

Family Background

I’m Taiwanese. My husband is English. We moved to London 5 years ago.


6 year old daughter: started: 4; finished: 8 months
4 year old daughter: started: ~3.5; finished: 1.5 years

 In her Own Words 

1. Why did you choose Sagebooks?

We chose Sagebooks based on a friend’s recommendation. When my oldest girl was 3, we started to learn Zhuyin Fuhao (bopomofo) but felt we were not progressing fast enough. We decided to start to learn Chinese characters directly instead of the Taiwan transition way (start from zhuyin).

2. What was your experience with going through Sagebooks?

My oldest girl started at 4 and finished in about 8 months. My youngest girl started at 3.5 years old and finished in one and a half years. Because in UK mandatory school start quite early (4 years old) we wanted my oldest to finish Sagebooks before school started. For my youngest kid, we started early. Because she was too young it was a little bit hard to focus sometimes. We took a break some months last summer holiday then resumed again later. Finally it’s finished.

3. What did your typical lesson look like? Did you do additional activities?

We read at least one or two new sections everyday. We also repeated previous sections and used flashcards. After a couple hundred words, we started reading Taiwan primary school text books too, as well as some Chinese poems and 小豆豆學華語 to extend vocabulary and enhance the comprehension.

4. What did you like about Sagebooks? Was there anything you didn't?

Sagebooks has good structure to help kids learn the first 500 words. I like the idea of Treasure Boxes – especially for the first 100, 200 words. It made my kids feel as if they really could read a book. Even though it’s quite short and simple, it was a big achievement for them.

5. If you have more than one child, would you do it again?


6. Any advice for parents who are just starting?

Make this as a routine everyday. Each kid has a different personality.


Thank you so much for your responses, Vivian! You set a goal and you made it - twice. Thank you for also including your additional activities you did with your girls. Chinese comprehension helps with the Sagebooks curriculum and your supplemental textbooks and poems were wonderful additions.

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