My Sister’s Keeper

Here is a little update on how DD#1 “Charlotte”, now 14 and half, is doing with her Chinese.  As we moved to a different state a few months back, she was able to enroll in online high school level Chinese 3, her first “official” Chinese class.  The reading materials are easy for her but this is the only way I can get her to do expository Chinese writings (well, typing…).   (Oh, she learns to type pinyin herself, for those parents who worry this.)  It was a matter of choice that I didn’t ask her to take the Spanish course series.  One reason is that I want her to consolidate her Chinese more.  Another reason is that Spanish is much easier to acquire and there will be other opportunities to learn Spanish, particularly if future situations call for it.  And I didn’t want her to do it just for the sake of college application.  Given we just moved to a new state and she started high school in a completely different setting (going from 60 students per grade in a private school to 500 students per grade in a public school), I want to provide her some extra room for adjustment also (not that Spanish I is difficult).  In any case….  Next year in 10th grade, she will take Chinese 4.  I will consider that she takes AP Chinese concurrently at weekend Chinese school but I am not sure about that still, given her other activities on the weekend.

After not doing much extracurricular Chinese reading for several months related to our relocation, Charlotte is now back reading Chinese novels.  As you recall, she is much more fond of reading translated works of American young adult novels, such as the Selection Series or books like Ender’s Game.  As a second and half generation American, she can relate to them much more than traditional Chinese literature.

Nevertheless, she did re-read 九把刀’s 那些年,我們ㄧ起追的女孩 last month, a coming of age teenagers’ novel.  It was adopted into a most enjoyable movie a few years back and we enjoy watching it every couple of years.  (Yeah, the “clean” version, LOL.)  A growing teen, Charlotte probably gets something new out of the book every time she reads it.  She didn’t finish reading 金庸‘s 倚天屠龍記 over the summer.  Though it was partly related to our relocation, I think the main thing is that she simply doesn’t have much interest in Chinese kungfu novels.


This week, Charlotte starts reading the Chinese edition of My Sister’s Keeper.  She tackled it about two years ago.  Back then, though she had read the English edition already and had watched the movie (which is quite different from the book), the Chinese edition was too much (i.e. difficult) for her, particularly with many medical terminologies.  Now that she is more mature and her Chinese is better, she has little problem reading and enjoying the Chinese edition book now.


So, she is making some progress there.  I only expect her to make slow incremental progress over the next few years, given the demands of high school and college application.  Most of my work had been done when she was between the age of 4 and 12.

So, no, in terms of Chinese course work per se, she is not ahead of some Chinese heritage kids who went through weekend Chinese school.  But I bet that her Chinese literacy is much stronger than the vast majority, not to mention her appreciation and fluency of the Chinese language.


Addendum with question from my FB group:

Q: “Just curious what you consider Chinese coursework and why you think Charlotte is on par with the kids in Chinese school. And how is that different than literacy?”

A:  It is my impression that quite a few Chinese heritage kids these days go through weekend Chinese schools through ~9/10th grade and then Chinese AP class there.  It is my impression that some of the stronger students there from families with high “expectations” do well in Chinese AP tests.  However, my impression is that, for most, Chinese is something they study, not “enjoy” per se. Probably few of them can or will read Chinese novels with similar fluency.  Some weekend Chinese school curriculums, like MLP’s, are quite vigorous, if you stick with it.  My exposure and understanding are more limited, given where I spent the last 20+ years.  Since many of you live in CA, I would be happy to hear about you-all’s experience.  (Yeah, I am southern, LOL.)