Screening, training and support for children's early learning


Teachers and Parents: If you are interested in other research and social impact programs of Prof. Cammie McBride, please check out her website

Have you ever played Ping Pong (table tennis)? Do you like to play Ping Pong (table tennis)? As one of the most popular sports in China, Ping Pong is closely related to Chinese society and, hence, we are bringing Ping Pong to Chinese literacy learning in this post!

The game which integrates Ping Pong and Chinese literacy learning is called “Word Ping Pong.” To play the game, you can ask the players (can be two single players or two players per team, just like the real Ping Pong game!) to imagine having the Ping Pong paddle or to actually hold one. Then, you can ask the players to be prepared and face each other. The serving side then swings the paddle (notice that a real Ping Pong ball is not required in the game, swinging the paddle to imitate the game will do) and simultaneously shout a word out. The receiving side then shall respond with an antonym. The players repeat the procedures with back-and-forth passing and change the serving side once a team loses (i.e. cannot come up with a new word or an antonym). Word Ping Pong is an exciting game that helps train players’ capacity for Chinese word knowledge and spontaneity in using the Chinese language.

Play this Word Ping Pong game and learn/practice Chinese while exercising!


“Seeing is believing.” As the old saying goes, people tend to believe more if they see things visually. Similarly, learning will become more realistic if one can see what s/he learns. In this post, we are going to introduce you to a tip to visualize your learnings and make Chinese learning a fun experience!


We recommend that you (as a parent, educator, or learner) consider learning Chinese in concert with recent festivals/holidays. That is, choose the festivals/holidays-related Chinese characters and words to learn or review. Let us take the Lunar New Year, for example. Ask people around you or search different materials in order to consider the activities people take part in or the food people eat during the Lunar New Year (e.g. set firecrackers 放鞭炮 and eat rice cake 吃年糕); then, memorize the words of the corresponding activities or foods. Later on, during the Lunar New Year, when you see the food or experience the activities you learned about, you will have a sense of familiarity. With the process of learning and “seeing”, you will have a stronger impression of the Chinese characters/words you have learned.


“Seeing is believing!” Try this learning tip during the recent festival/holiday and “see” your Chinese language improvement! 


In this post, we are introducing you to a Chinese language learning tip that involves speaking and listening. Used by many researchers and educators, it is beneficial for an individual to learn language in a comprehensive manner; that is, incorporating listening, speaking, reading and writing when learning (Goldenberg, 2008; Celce-Murcia, 2001). Integrating the four skills helps to improve the learner’s language ability while “listening” plays the fundamental role since it is the skill that allows speaking, reading, and writing to develop (Nation & Newton, 2008).


Hence, we want to introduce to you a tip that utilizes both listening and speaking skills to help your children to improve their Chinese. To practice the tip, you can encourage your children to say the Chinese words they see out loud. If your kids pronounce the words incorrectly, you can say the words again and encourage them to repeat them several times. Through listening and repeating the correct pronunciations of words, children can improve their Chinese language speaking as well as listening skills. With the improvement in listening and speaking, children will be more likely to recognize Chinese words. 


Practice this simple strategy in daily settings and encourage your kids with Chinese.



Nation, I. S., & Newton, J. (2008). Teaching ESL/EFL listening and speaking. Routledge.

Celce-Murcia, M. (2001). Language teaching approaches: An overview. Teaching English as a second or foreign language, 2, 3-10.

Goldenberg, C. (2008). Teaching English language learners: What the research does-and does not-say.


In the previous posts, we have introduced games and strategies to help your children consolidate their Chinese language knowledge. In this post, we will introduce another game to help your kids advance their understanding of Chinese idioms. The game is called “Guessing Idioms” and it is a game that incorporates story-telling techniques and Chinese idioms learning. In this game, your role is to become a story-teller; that is, you need to tell children stories related to targeted idioms and ask them to guess the idioms. The stories can be but are not limited to the origin of the idiom and the usage of the idiom. For instance, for the targeted idiom “一目了然” (meaning that it is clear at a glance), you can simply tell a story like “The Christmas decorations in the classroom are very clear and successful. People can easily sense the feeling of Christmas when walking into the classroom.” Then, you can ask the children to guess an idiom that describes the content of the story.

If your children find it hard to guess the targeted idiom, you can also provide them with some hints to help them guess the correct idiom. Take the above idiom “”, for example. You can tell the children that it is an idiom starts with a number and relates to seeing something. Through playing this “Guessing Idioms” game, children’s knowledge of Chinese idioms will be improved in a fun environment!


Do you keep a diary to record what happens every day? What format do you use? Drawing, writing or? In this post, we are introducing a diary writing tip to help children to utilize their Chinese language knowledge. 


With the advancement of technology, children today have more chances to use high-tech products; one consequence is that they have fewer chances to practice writing Chinese words. Thus, we encourage Chinese learners to keep a diary and write down what happens every day in Chinese. To better consolidate children’s Chinese literacy knowledge based on the diary writing technique, we recommend you to take the stage-like process. That is, guide your children to utilize their Chinese language knowledge through a step by step process. If your kids are beginners in the Chinese language, you can simply ask them to record their days using one or two Chinese words along with drawings. With the improvement of Chinese literacy knowledge, you can further guide your kids to write a complete paragraph to record their days.


Another strategy to strengthen one’s Chinese literacy knowledge is to write down certain categories of incidents each day. For instance, write things that are relevant to “animal” on Monday and write “car” related topics on Tuesday. Correspondingly, children can write “I went to the zoo today and saw a big elephant. 我今天去動物園看到一隻很大的大象。” on Monday and “My uncle drove a red car today. 叔叔今天開一台紅色的車。” on Tuesday. Writing about certain categories each day helps your kids to categorize the usage of Chinese words and further enhance their Chinese knowledge consolidation.


Do you have experience playing word and idiom solitaire games with friends?

Today, we are integrating this “word & idiom solitaire” game with Chinese literacy learning to help your children to consolidate their knowledge of Chinese words and idioms. The rules of “word & idiom solitaire” game are simple and can be played by two or more people. To start the game, the first player proposes an initial word or idiom. Then the second player needs to say a word or idiom following the (last) character of the initial word or idiom. Sequential players will then follow the same rule and say a word/idiom begins with the last character of the word/idiom the previous player said. For instance, with the initial character “slippers 托鞋”, the following players can say “shoes box 鞋盒”, “box 盒子”, “offspring 子孫”.

You can play the simpler “word” solitaire game with your children and then increase the difficulty to the more complex “idiom” solitaire game. For instance, use “tiger 老虎” as the initial word for the first round of the game and then apply “careless 馬馬虎虎” for the second round. You are also recommended to restrict the category of word/idiom choices. For example, in the above “tiger 老虎” round, you can restrict the answers to “animal related words” only. In other words, “a kind of bee 虎頭蜂” can be a possible answer but “a kind of teeth 虎牙” is not.

The “word & idiom solitaire” game can be played anywhere and anytime. The length of the game is flexible. Play this game with your kids and let us know your experiences!


We want to share a touching story of Singapore’s founding father-Lee Kuan Yew.

Diagnosed with mild dyslexia at the age of 62, minister Lee did not feel discouraged; instead, he tried harder and promoted destigmatization campaign for dyslexia. Since young, minister Lee found it hard to keep up with his peers in speed reading; however, he did not think himself as disable and tried even harder to overcome the difficulties!

Despite the difficulty in reading, the giant of Asia strived for the best and became mastered in English, Malay, Chinese and Japanese!

Don’t be frightened if you or your kids have difficulties with reading and writing, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Click here for the News (sharing from Must Share News Singapore):


In Hong Kong, children start learning Chinese as young as three years old and their vocabulary knowledge increases within age. It would really help children to learn more words when they start to appreciate that character can be meaning units that combine to make a word (e.g. the word “firework” is a combination of two words, fire and work, and they have distinct meanings). We are introducing “Word Chain Game” to help your kid(s) review vocabularies as well as to develop morphological awareness, the ability to be analyze and be aware of the meaning structure of a word and to manipulate meaning units to make up new concepts.

In Word Chain Game, children are advised to think of a new word based on the previous word, that is, children should use last character/morpheme of previous word as the first character/morpheme of the next word. For instance, campfire-firework-workplace.

Parents can adjust the level of vocabularies based on children’s language ability and set a goal for children (e.g. 3 vocabularies in word chain in the first week and 5 in the second week). Parents can also limited the time for creating word chain to stimulate children’s thinking.

Playing Word Chain Game helps children review vocabularies and distinguish the relationship of characters!
Visit our website to learn more about the game:


In this post, we are introducing a learning tip for writing Chinese words-Break the structures of characters. In Hong Kong, many children learn Chinese characters by copying words and memorize them; however, Professor Mcbride has proved this method not as effective for kindergarten learners (please see below for more information about the study). Instead, learning components of a character such as radical and associating the shared rules within characters are more likely to benefit young children.

Therefore, we recommend parents to encourage their children to take notice on similar patterns (e.g. radical, look) between characters. Parents are also suggested to further explain the meaning of shared radicals (e.g. radical 木 indicates wooden-related objects) to facilitate children's learning.

For more information about Breaking character structures, please visit our website:

For more information about leaning effectiveness of copying Chinese characters for young children, please visit the study: Lin, D., McBride‐Chang, C., Aram, D., & Levin, I. (2011). Mother–child joint writing in Chinese kindergarteners: Metalinguistic awareness, maternal mediation and literacy acquisition. Journal of Research in Reading, 34(4), 426-442.

In Chinese characters, there are 2 typical types of elements-Phonetic and Semantic components. Phonetic components are related to the sound (e.g. 分:粉、芬) while semantic ones are correlated with the meaning (e.g. 木:樹、松). Since semantic elements are fewer and easier to relate to, we suggest that young children can create word lists starting with semantic radicals. Recognizing the meaning & pattern of radicals and connecting characters with the same components are useful strategies to learn Chinese and we recommend that you to try the tips with your kids!

For more information about creating word lists with common radicals, please visit: