Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Illiteracy stinks,

espcecially when you're the one that is illiterate. In Chinese characters I can read and write the numbers 1-100, the words Kunming (to see the weather forecast on tv), male and female (to identify the correct bathroom). Yet somehow with my limited reading ability, I managed to spend over two engrossing hours in a mega size bookstore (6 floors). Although the sections were labeled in English (world history, biographies, etc), the books were not. There was a half a floor dedicated to English language textbooks. But a bookstore in any language is fun to browse! Most of my time was spent in the travel (beautiful maps, too), art and cooking sections. Also, quite a bit of time was spent browsing the children's section. I found some familiar looking books and I'm always curious to look at elementary school texts.

The kids, however, are doing wonderful in Chinese. Elena comes home with a new word everyday and can sing four songs. Either her day is filled with language-rich activities or it's the natural talker in her that is causing her to pick up Chinese so well. Carlos is more hesitant to use the language, but will always speak to his teacher in Chinese. Both kids love Chinese TV cartoons and want Chinese books read to them. ("What does this say, Mom?" I look at the pictures and make up a story!) Carlos does well in his classwork, so we know he's understanding the language. His age level is now concentrating on math concepts. They have been doing sequencing and patterning and just started addition. In the bookstore today I looked at a first grade math text. In the second half of the book, multiplication facts are going strong! The Chinese also do a lot of mental math exercises (such as adding a series of numbers quickly) and this is also introduced in grade 1.

So I continue the struggle to add to my spoken vocabulary and depend on my students to read the notes that come from the kids' school. It sure would be nice to know what all those signs say and to know what really is on the grocery shelves. Hopefully by the end of the school year, I'll be able to read some of those signs and labels.


Majewski Family said...

Ann, I can relate to how you feel when we have gone to China. I would walk in the grocery store and browse the shelves and so wanted to read what each item was. So many things look so interesting! Larry and I both agree that we so admire the courage that you and Gustavo have to take on such a challenge. We admire you!

mimifrancoise said...

I, too, can relate to the feeling of frustration not being able to read anything. When I went to Xiamen to visit Malinda and Zoe and Maya, I remember feeling so frustrated. This was the first time I had gone to a country where I could not read or speak the language. But, the beauty of the scenery and the friendliness of the Chinese people made up for it. I wish I had been able to stay longer.Do yo know that Malinda has been very ill?
Fran (aka Mimi)