華人醫學會年會表演 – 2018

We were invited to perform for the first annual conference of Chinese Medical Association of Atlanta (亞特蘭大華人醫學會), which was first established almost thirty years ago with just a few members. The turn out was great for such an organization and there were a number of good educational talks.  The event lasted the whole day, from 12:30-10PM.

After afternoon’s educational talks, family members joined the physicians in a buffet style dinner.  The evening’s performances started after dinner and there were about 8 performances.

For us, only DD#1 “Charlotte”, almost 15, and I performed this time, as I haven’t had more time to work with DD#2 on her song with my new work schedule.  As I started learning bass guitar only a few months ago, I have had more time to work on it since our Chinese New Year’s performance.  For her first song, Charlotte performed 周華健‘s “朋友“ again, as this is a different crowd.  This time, I have learned enough to play the bass accompaniment for her.  Then, she played Ben E King’s “Stand By Me”.  It is such a simple but beautiful song and the bass accompaniment is pretty cool to play.  Our performance was a hit and we got so many compliments for it.

As before, Charlotte is the only heritage child (well, teen now, besides DD#2) who really spoke and/or sing anything in Chinese.  We typically get such good feed backs from the audiences afterward.  I think seeing her hard earned Chinese proficiency put into such good use again and again this past year reinforces Charlotte’s willingness to continue learning the language and truly accept it as part of her heritage.  Chinese is now part of her skill sets that she can use to socialize, perform and entertain, and reach out to the local Chinese community for volunteering and service opportunities.

做好榜樣 Setting a good example

This post is, for a change, about me!  We moved to Georgia last summer and I was recently invited to give a 30 minutes presentation on chronic kidney disease to the general Chinese speaking public in the area.  All in Chinese, with a few English medical terminologies allowed in between.  As a youth immigrant, I learned everything from middle school and up in English, including everything in medical school and medical residency of course.  To my Chinese-speaking friends, family, and the few Chinese-speaking patients that I have had so far, I can say a few sentences about their medical issues in Chinese with little problem.  But to give a 30 minutes talk in Chinese about a medical subject, well, that’s a completely different ball game.  Besides it being a good community service and promotion for my medical practice, I figure that it would be a good way to let my girls see how knowing Chinese well can be a good way to connect with the local Chinese speaking community, even for youth immigrants like myself.  This talk would also be a good way to force myself to improve my own Chinese.

After getting all my slides done (in Chinese mostly), it took me more than 10 hours just to practice delivering this talk in Chinese.  Like any talks, I have to add in some jokes and interesting things to liven it up a little, in Chinese of course.  I also added a couple of Chinese idioms, proverbs, and a reference to an ancient Chinese medical story.  Public speaking was never my thing and my girls helped out, providing critiques during parts of my practice.  DD#1 “Charlotte” is a natural in public speaking and wrote several PAGES of notes for me.  She even suggested more suitable Chinese words for me to use, can you believe it?!  (She can compose in Chinese better than I can.)  DD#2 “Georgia” was just laughing her heads off, jotting down more than a hundred of my “uh…uh….” in just a few minutes of my initial practice runs!  I was starting to get very annoyed at her, LOL!  Since I had a busy work week, I stayed up till 4AM the day of my talk (Sunday) to practice.  In the morning, I practice two more times and felt fairly confident by the time we left the house.


I was a little nervous waiting for my turn as I was to deliver the latter of the two talks.  An adult immigrant China and US trained physician delivered the first talk on cancer screening and treatment.  Well, my talk went very well, I am so relieved to say.  No more “uh….uh….”, LOL.  The audience asked many questions and a number of them asked me for my business card afterward.  My wife was very proud of me that I asked her “所以,妳認我是妳的先生了?!“ (So, you would now acknowledge that I am your husband?!)   LOL.  It took me a whole hour afterward just to feel all that stress leave me.

My girls were very proud of me too!  Mission accomplished!





Chinese novel reading update

Well, Chinese reading is going well for both “Charlotte” and “Georgia”, a few months shy of 15 and 12 years of age respectively.

Charlotte just finished reading the Chinese edition of “Anna and the French Kiss” (4.5/5 score on Amazon), giggling intermittently as she read along.  Oh, all those teen romance!  She read some 70 pages this afternoon.  She did feel the need to skim through the English E-edition that she checked out from the online public library to get a better idea of the names and some of the details in the book.  So, her Chinese comprehension is not as precise as her English comprehension; but, that’s not a surprise.  She says reading it in Chinese gives her more room for imagination, LOL!  As long she keeps on reading, studying, and learning Chinese, her reading comprehension will come further along.


As for Georgia, she is now reading the first book of 金庸‘s “神雕俠侶“, about 9 months before Charlotte in terms of their age at the time of first time reading.  She needed a little help at the beginning, so I resorted to my good old fashion Scaffold Reading Experience and she read the first chapter with zhuyin assistance.  Now, she has moved back to the regular book.  I do try to sit close by at this point as she asks me questions about her reading from time to time.

So, I am quite excited about both of their progress!  I am certain some of your kids will reach these milestones at a younger age, as some of you utilize Chinese learning programs more rigorous than ours at a younger age.  Yeah, you probably would have considered my girls “slackers” in your household when they were younger, LOL!

六個夢之二 & 「神雕俠侶」(Six Dreams, Part 2 & Return of the Condor Heroes)

DD#2 “Georgia” finished reading the first short story 「追尋」in two days, which has about 14,000 characters.  I asked her whether she understood what “圓房” meant in the story and she said she did.  Good, learning by context, LOL!  (“圓房” means the consummation of a marriage a period of time after the wedding, such as upon maturity of a former child bride.)

I then printed out the second short story 「啞妻」with almost 17,000 characters.  She spent about twenty minutes reading the two halves of the story yesterday and today.  Her comment after reading it was “好可憐喔” which would be “so sad” or “poor thing”.   I asked her whether it would be better to provide her a version of the story with zhuyin (注音)and she said that would not be necessary.  This sounds great to me!  I would say she read this short story at about 400 characters a minute.

I looked over the second short story 「啞妻」, the beginning of which I posted below.  Then, I looked at 金庸‘s 「神雕俠侶」, or “Return of the Condor Hero” by practically the most famous modern kungfu novelist Jin-Yong.  I post the beginning of 「神雕俠侶」below as well.  Certainly, the descriptive parts of 「神雕俠侶」are more difficult to read, but the overall plot and dialogues do not seem much more difficult to read than 「啞妻」.

Recently, Georgia is motivated to read more challenging books since a new Chinese instructor at the weekend school constantly brag (according to my DD) about her own daughter’s Chinese to the students, LOL!  As Georgia will be 12 in a few months and DD#1 “Charlotte” started reading「神雕俠侶」at 12.5 years old, I decided to let Georgia try 「神雕俠侶」.  They both had watched the cartoon +/- TV series of the novel before, which helps with the reading.  Also, Georgia has always been ahead of Charlotte in Chinese at the same age, by about a year.  So, it will be interesting to see how she does.  At this stage, she won’t get the more nuanced descriptive passages (風景,詩意,心境等)but as long as she can understand enough to keep reading, I am good.

So far, Georgia read a few pages of「神雕俠侶」and says she doesn’t need zhuyin.  So, that’s a good start.  (I don’t think she got much of the first page describing the setting and mood of the story but that part is not all that important.)

So, we’ll see how it goes over the next few days!  If it gets difficult, I can always resort to “Scaffold Reading Experience” or SRE to help her get over the bump.


第二個夢 啞妻 (Six Dreams – Short Story #2)




神雕俠侶(The Return of the Condor Heroes)

第一回 風月無情


六個夢 (Six dreams)

I am very happy that 11 year old DD#2 “Georgia” can read 「六個夢」by famed author 瓊瑤 now. I printed out several pages of the first short story (without zhuyin) and she read it just fine.  She can explain to me the story  paragraph by paragraph.  She can also read aloud at least 90% of the characters.  I think she is still ahead of her elder sister at the same age.  So, yeah!  I will have her read a couple of these short stories this week.

The following is how this story starts.

第一個夢 追尋





狗年新年快樂 (Happy Chinese New Year – Year of the Dog)

Happy Chinese New Year!!

跟各位家長分享女兒們CLE(Chinese Language Ecosystem) 進入另ㄧ個階段,用學到的中文帶給別人喜悅~

My DDs got to a new level in their CLE, namely using the Chinese they learned to give joy to others!  They were invited to perform at a Chinese New Year banquet in Atlanta.  Though we are new in town and never had this kind of opportunity in rural eastern NC before, we decided to give it a shot.  I decided to buy and learn to play a bass guitar for the classic CNY song “恭喜恭喜“, as there are only four notes to play!  We have had so much fun rehearsing for their first public performance!

The girls had a successful performance this weekend.   Here are their greeting and CNY blessing.


Then, DD#1 sang 周華健’s 「朋友」.


Finally, DD#2 sang 陳歌辛‘s 「恭喜恭喜」.


This is another win for their CLE!  DD#1 did make me promise that our band will learn to play an English song next time~  It is all about balance!

女醫 明妃傳 (The Imperial Doctress) & Speak (我不再沈默)

DD#2 “Georgia” finished watching all fifty episodes of 女醫 明妃傳 (The Imperial Doctress).  This historical fictional TV series is based on historical figures and events in the Ming Dynasty during the 15th century, including 土木堡之變 and 奪門之變.  Georgia greatly enjoyed the show, given the protagonist is female and there is a romance storyline as well.

Now comes the “fun part”, at least for me!

I got on Wikipedia and put together the “real” story on paper.  I first read it to Georgia and now have her read it aloud, over several days.  She should learn much from the reading, as it is written in slightly more formal Chinese.  Having zhuyin helps with pronunciation greatly.




































I tried to find another TV historical drama which can teach a lot about the salient part of Chinese history but is also fun to watch for a tween girl.  Unfortunately, she has not liked 三國演義.  We watched the first episode of 東周列國春秋篇.  It was very educational, starting with 周幽王烽火戲諸侯 but, unfortunately, very boring for a 11 year old girl.  Not to mention it was produced twenty years ago.  There are many excellent historical TV drama series such as 漢武大帝, 大秦帝國, 雍正王朝, 康熙王朝, etc. but I know that my tween girl would not find them interesting, unfortunately.


At the recommendation of some parents, Georgia and I are starting to watch「那年花開月正圓」, set in late 19th century China, with a female lead protagonist loosely based on a historical figure.  So, this seems to be a good fit for my DD.  Hopefully, she will learn a few things about the turbulent time at the end of the Ching dynasty.



“Speak” by Laurie Anderson

At the mean time, 14 years old DD#1 “Charlotte” is reading “Speak” by Laurie Anderson, a New York Times best seller in early 2000s, for her English class.  It is a trauma novel about a high school freshman who was raped at a summer party.  Charlotte had trouble telling me the plot of the story all in Chinese, which I totally understand, given the type of language involved.  It is not something she read or we discussed in Chinese before.  So, I put together kind of a synopsis from various internet sources, as below.  Too bad there is not a Wikipedia entry in Chinese on this book.  Hopefully, we will get to go over these over the weekend.







Anna and the French Kiss

Let’s see.  What are we up to lately, with their Chinese….

Over the Christmas break, “Charlotte”, DD#1 at 14 years of age, “Georgia”, DD#2 at 11 years of age, and I got to spend a lot of time talking about family values, in Chinese of course.  In fact, I set aside about an hour a day to do so over their two weeks’ break.

Charlotte finished reading the Chinese edition of “My Sister’s Keeper” recently.  She has moved onto “Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins.  The translated names of the various localities give her some trouble but that’s about it, she says.  Let’s hope she is right about that.

Charlotte is also working on singing and playing (guitar) right the song “朋友“ or “Friends”  by 周華健.  Here is a small part of her practice:

As for Georgia, besides her Chinese lessons, she continues to read the books in the “世界少年文學精選“ series.  I don’t mind that she continues to read books with zhuyin, to broaden her vocabulary and content exposure further.  My estimate is that she reads about 500 characters a minutes, which means that she probably can read similar books without zhuyin at about 250 characters a minutes.  She continues to watch a popular 2016 Chinese TV drama, 女醫明妃傳though she loves to watch the American TV show “Fresh Off the Boat” every now and then.

The two of them continue to converse in Chinese at home, about 80% of the time.

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.)

朗讀比賽(Read-aloud competition)

We recently moved from relatively rural eastern North Carolina to the suburb of a large southern metro city.  DD#1 “Charlotte”‘ is officially taking Chinese classes now.   Just less than one week ago, her teacher asked me whether my DDs would be interested in participating in a local Chinese read-aloud competition, sponsored by schools using traditional characters.  My DDs gladly accepted the challenge.

Today is the competition.  Here is DD#2 “Georgia”‘s performance in the intermediate level division  (Click link for the reading selection).


Below is “Charlotte”‘s performance in the advanced level division.  I only got part of it, since my phone ran out of memory…..


Here is Charlotte’s practice recording, if you are interested:

Since there are large number of contestants, the results won’t be announced for 1-2 weeks.

It is easier to read aloud fast but more difficult to read aloud slowly, which require more accurate prosody and pronunciation.  IMHO, reading aloud well is not a skill appreciated or emphasized by many parents, with competing demands.