Valentine’s Day is a great reminder for us to show our appreciation and love to those around us. It’s also a great time to teach one to love oneself as well. I wanted to teach my girls self-love, appreciation and positivity. I was inspired to create these after seeing Spot of Sunshine and CHALK academy Valentine’s Day hearts. I could not find any in Cantonese so I decided to create my own. These heart messages are bilingual with Cantonese (jyutping option available) and English phrases, our family language. By having them written down I hope that it will normalize and make saying these phrases more natural in Cantonese. These positive affirmations and loving messages can be used and displayed all year round.
How to use these heart messages:
download and print on regular or colour paper or card stock
cut out each heart, 24 in total
give to child directly
use as wall decorations
create a garland to display messages
Vocabulary for Valentine’s Day (Cantonese | Jyutping | English)
Little Explorers Cantonese is an online Cantonese class for children that gives family the controlto schedule lessons on their own time with our on demand Cantonese videos. It is run by dedicated Cantonese educators. We create our own lessons and music while featuring many independent authors and publishers.
This is a post I should have written months ago, but here it is now. Better late than never. I would like to take the time to introduce the Cantonese online program that I am running alongside Eveline, Cherry and Dorothy.
If you follow any of us on our social medias, you might have noticed that we have been working together to create an on demand virtual Cantonese program for kids after our success of our Summer Cantonese Program last year. We went all out to make a cohesive brand by creating a new brand name, logo, social media accounts and a website for our program. Shout out to the families who participated in our logo contest. It really helped us bring our brand together.
Why an on demand Cantonese class for children? We understand the busy life style as families. An on demand online program gives you control of your learning. Families can schedule these lessons at the time that suits their child. You could do these lessons during meal times or perhaps you have an early riser and you would like to provide educational content to give yourself some extra time to wake up. You are in control and you don’t need to worry about scheduling, different time zones, being late or other commitments. You can learn Cantonese on your own time.
I’m not fluent. Why a Cantonese immersion program? With on demand, you can stop, pause, and rewind at any time. Missed something and want to hear it again? Just do it! Because you have life time access to these programs, you can repeat the lessons or parts of the lesson as many times as you like. Repetition is good for fluency and understanding.
If you have little ones whose first language is not Chinese, you will be surprised at how fast they can pick up a language. The prime time to learn a language is between 0 to 6. Their brains can absorb the language with lots of exposure. Babies are not born with language. They are born with the ability to learn any language. They can learn with full immersion. Trust them. My own children did not start learning Cantonese at birth. When we finally started, they were put in an environment that was only Cantonese and they were able to pick up the language without the need for any English translations. It can be intimidating and you can go at the pace that suits your family. You might want to break up our lessons into sections to complete at separate times. How you decided to complete the lessons is up to you. There is no right or wrong way!
What is our program like? Every lessons follows a set structure. No surprises. Children strive on routine and consistency so we have set up the lessons to follow a format to bring your child comfort.
For our younger audience, we have conveniently set up vocabulary, song and lesson at the beginning. They can stop the lesson after the story. For our other children, we follow up with an activity and writing. Younger children may need help with the activity and writing if their fine motor skills are still developing. Feel free to help them out.
Our writing sheets come in two different levels and are inviting for all. We start off with tracing and finding the missing strokes before attempting to write the character. We hope that your child can also become confident reader and writers in the future.
Cherry’s Cantonese art class are calming for both child and parents. We highly recommend doing these classes with your child. Cherry goes through the art process while also engaging in light conversation that parents and children can enjoy together.
How to get the most of our program?
Consistency is key! Choose a set day and time to complete these lessons and commit to them every week.
Be prepared. Have printouts and materials ready at the start of the lesson. If you are staying just for the songs and stories, all you need is an open and focused mind. If you are doing the activities and writing, come with pencils, colouring supplies, scissors and glue.
Participate in your child’s learning. You can do the activities with your child or talk about what they saw, learned or noticed in the lessons. Find connections from the lessons to their daily lives. Let them know you are interested in their learning.
Language learning will not occur overnight and on its own. It does take effort and commitment. We are here to help you though to provide you lessons and tips to make the experience easier. For more information and to register check us out: http://littleexplorerscanto.teachable.com.
I love books with jyutping! It is inclusive to families who are learning to speak or read in Cantonese. Cantonese is a very hard language, a consistent pronunciation guide is helpful for us learners to learn together, communicate with each other and look up unfamiliar words. If you are new to jyutping, it is a romanization system for Cantonese developed by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong. Jyutping and Yale are the most common Cantonese romanization. However, I have found jyutping is more accessible than yale. To learn more about jyutping, you can watch the following videos on YouTube: jyutping introduction and Cantonese tones.
I am thrilled to see many Cantonese resources available now. The community has really thrived in the last couple of years. Below I will share some books that have jyutping that you might want to add to your home library.
If you are looking for more Cantonese content with Jyutping, make sure to check out my shopand printablesfor more fun activities.
There are many translation pens out there. Many of which can only read Chinese characters in Mandarin. I was very excited to hear about this pen and how it can translate to Cantonese. Read below for my review of the pen. Please note, this is my personal experience with the pen and with the Cantonese language function only. It can translate many other languages.
reads simplified and traditional characters in Cantonese (wifi connection needed) and Mandarin
can read Chinese text in both the horizontal and vertical position (wifi connection needed)
translations are fair and not awkward
auto detects and corrects scan errors
text and voice translations functions
translation speed not instant
can read individual characters in Mandarin, not Cantonese
full sentence scan needed, cannot scan individual characters, words or short phrases
zhuyin affects scan accuracy
scan accuracy goes down with vertical and traditional characters in comparison to horizontal and simplified text
auto correct will change words if it does match their narrative
I tried out this pen for one month with a variety of books in my home library to determine if this book would suit my family needs. For videos of the pen, please check out my Instagram post.
1. I was thrilled to find out that this pen CAN read characters in the vertical position. This only works with Wi-Fi connection for both Cantonese and Mandarin. The [100 Storey Home series] (100層樓的家) and my bridge books are printed in the vertical position. The pen worked great with the 100 Storey Home series! The bridge books that I own are also in vertical position with in line zhuyin to the right of the characters. This takes practice to get the scan correctly. If the pen picks up the zhuyin, it confuses the text as Japanese and does not read correctly. I need to scan slightly to the left. Another way to scan the text is by covering the zhuyin with a piece of paper. Since it is to the right of the characters, that is fairly easy to do. I did find that the scan accuracy does go down with vertical text and that I sometimes need to scan a few times to get it correct. I think this is an amazing feature to have and very useful for bridge books.
2. The autocorrect function is amazing but also frustrating at the same time. Sometimes I see inaccurate scans, and am ecstatic to find that the pen auto-corrected it to the right word. Sometimes it looks like the pen scans gibberish but actually scanned everything correctly. I become extremely frustrated when I see that it scanned the characters correctly but decided to change the characters to match its own narrative. Some characters that the pen consistently kept changing were toad 蟾蜍 and swing 鞦韆. Being unable to scan toad was a big deal for me as I needed to read [Frog and Toad] in Chinese and Toad comes up very often. For the majority of the text, the scans are accurate. I believe that more complex characters with more strokes are harder to scan.
3. To get an accurate scan in Chinese, you must scan a full sentence. It does not scan individual characters, words or short phrases. This was disappointing as I had seen @lahlahbanana post a video of her children using the Alpha Egg translation pen and it could scan individual characters. Once you scan the full sentence, you must wait for it to translate. Translation is not instant. The more you scan, the longer it takes to translate. This felt like a life time and I felt it really disrupted the flow of reading. The pen can tell you pronunciation for individual characters only in Mandarin with pinyin included, not Cantonese and no jyutping. I found this part very difficult as I had to listen to the audio several times to catch the target word.
4. Horizontal text with in line zhuyin really disrupts the pen scan accuracy. It will pick up the zhuyin as numbers, alphabet letters, punctuation or Japanese characters. The translation and the audio will not be the greatest but for an adult learner, you can get the gist of the translation. Not ideal for a child. To overcome this challenge, I created a zhuyin block bookmark for my [Frog and Toad] books. I was able to block the zhuyin and get an accurate scan. However I do not recommend this method unless you have a series of books that utilize the same font, size and style. This bookmark only works in my Frog and Toad set and other bridge books by the same author. All my other books with zhuyin have different font styles and sizes that it does not work.
I enjoyed the pen but if it will match your family needs will depend on your home library, fluency and learning style. My home library consists of an almost equal proportion of simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese and traditional Chinese with zhuyin. The scans were fairly accurate and the translations were easy to understand. If you have a lot of books with zhuyin, I don’t think these translation pens are ideal. This pen did not work for my family as I am not an auditory learner. Because I had to listen to an entire sentence to learn a target word, it took multiple takes as I could never quite catch the word I needed.
I purchased this pen in hopes that I could read harder books with my children without pre-reading them. I was not able to achieve this goal for the reason above. There is no easy way out yet for me. I will most likely still have to pre-read, translate new words before reading with my child to ensure we can read our books with a good flow.
We did it! 🥳 Last month big sister and I finished Sagebooks Basic Chinese 500! It has been an amazing journey (2.5 years) learning to read Chinese together. I am not literate in Chinese and I am not a native speaker. There were definitely many challenges along the way. I wanted to just share a few things that has worked for us.
#1 Use the FREE audio! Download it! This saved us when the characters were getting harder. I recommend dividing the audio into chapters or pages and having it easily accessible on a device or c pen. I had each chapter sticker and my children are able to read them independently. This is empowering for my children! They can be in charged of their own learning, especially when I’m not around. Here’s a secret, I can add audio to my books much faster by splitting the audio file than reading it out loud and recording it. It’s also important for me for the kids to get native speaking audio (I am very tone deaf). It takes me less than 5 minutes to sticker one book. I have all the chapter audio for orange, pink and red. Send me a dm if you need this.
UPDATE: I have all the audio for each chapter for all the sets (blue, green, orange, pink and red) in Cantonese. Thank you Cindy for finishing them off for me. I have also started on the Mandarin audio and have the audio divided by chapters for the blue and green set.
#2 Read lots and lots of fun books!Level books should not be your child’s first books. These are NOT story books. Read fun picture books first. Let them love reading. Once they start or finish level books, continue to read those fun picture books. It will supplement what they have learned. I made the mistake of treating these like picture books at the beginning and after a year of reading them, they did not learn much and we had to start over again. We now have a Chinese home library and have access to books at our local library. It’s definitely a blessing and privilege to have all of these. These books really helped us connect the meaning of the words and helped us to remember them.
If you do not have access to books, there are many YouTube stories available that you can use for reading. Although since Cantonese is a complex language, there may be some disconnect. I recommend Cantonese Mommy and Rhythm ‘N’ Rhyme read alouds as they do read in written and spoken form.
#3 Go at a pace that suits your child. For our family, that was one chapter/character per day. No revision. My daughter had various strategies for reading each chapter. Read all on her own if she knew all the characters. Repeat after me (using the audio). Listen to the whole chapter (audio) and attempt to read it all on her own. I let her decide how she will attempt each chapter and how many she would do. Occasionally she will be up for 3 chapters. It was important for her to be in charged of her own learning and her own intrinsic motivation kept her going.
#4 Start at a time when your child is ready. Most importantly, none of these will matter if your child is not developmentally ready. Every child is different. I started noticing my child could recognized characters at 2. We started at 3, but we were unsuccessful the first year. She may not have been fully ready and I didn’t approach these books correctly. We tried again at 4 and experienced much more success. We also took a 2.5 month break after half a year. We weren’t using the audio at the time and it became increasingly difficult by the orange (3rd set). When we started again, I introduced the audio and it was more manageable for us to follow along and get through. We read a lot of other books and my daughter is able to point out words she had learned through Sage.
These were special moments between my child and I. After each set of books, we found ourselves becoming more confident in reading. We were able to point out characters that we learned together with Sage. My youngest who is now 4, started Sage at 2. She zoomed through the first two books so fast. She wanted to mimic her older sister. However, she was not ready to read. She has taken 1.5 year break from Sage. She is just starting to show signs she is ready to read again. It’s hard but you really got to follow the pace of your child. Let them show you when they are ready. And lots of encouragement and praises go along way.
Throughout our journey, we read a lot of books and we did a lot of activities. There really is no one way to learn a language. A good combination of things will really help a child to understand the language.
Here are more FREE resources.
Cantonese for Families has a word list printable with all the characters and its jyutping. I used these before I switched to audio. Audio is very important for the children to hear. I found the jyutping helpful as an adult.
Guavarama has a hundred chart, games and other resources on her page as well. We used her hundred chart to track the characters my girls had learned.
Mama Baby Mandarin has tracing sheets, character search and many more resources on her page. I did not do any Sagebook worksheets with my kids. My kids traced the main character each lesson with their finger or c pen.
I have CHALK Academy to thank for introducing these books to me. She’s also another mom who was illiterate and non native in Chinese, and she inspired me to do this. I also have to thank Eveline from Rhythm ‘N’ Rhyme for bringing these books to Canada, sharing tips with me and encouraging my family along the way. I love her.