Reading to write (compose)

It was truly a pleasant surprise, that 12 year old “Charlotte” can compose in Chinese relatively well (by typing) despite having NOT written any Chinese since around 9 years old, except for character practice mainly.  It had been my strategy that extensive reading of Chinese textbooks and novels would greatly help her with composition, but to see the process in action and the whole thing coming to fruition was just a joy.

One parent noted that the story that Charlotte had composed in the last couple of days reads like a translated novel.  Well, there is a good reason for that.  She read quite a few Chinese edition of American novels, including The Selection series, Ender’s Game, Twilight series, and Starters.  She also read aloud with the Chinese tutor a couple of the Chinese edition of Arsene Lupin’s novels, commonly known as 亞森羅蘋 in Taiwan.

I think reading aloud is quite helpful for language learners.  There are many excellent youth novels with zhuyin from Taiwan, such as 亞森羅蘋 series.  I don’t know if there are as many youth novels with simplified characters and pinyin from mainland China.  Books like these serve well as bridge readers and for read alouds.  Here is what亞森羅蘋’s novels look like:


In any case, I think it is time that she reads some more original Chinese novels.  She did read a couple of 倪匡‘s 衛斯理 series before.  One of my goal is for them to be able to read 金庸’s kung-fu novels proficiently.  I thought that it may still be a couple of years out.  But, out of curiosity, I showed her a copy of 金庸‘s 神雕俠侶, whose story she is familiar through watching the cartoon version.  She seems to get the gist of the story.  Maybe I will have her read it aloud with the tutor’s assistance.  Who knows, she may be ready for it!


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