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Vickie W: a helpful tool for busy working parents

This week’s Parent Spotlight is Vickie W and she works at least 50 hours a week and didn’t teach her daughter Chinese until she was 4 years old. The fact that her daughter learned Chinese at a later age and is still doing well with Sagebooks is very encouraging! 

Family Background (In her own words)

Vickie WI would say I am a native Taiwanese and Mandarin speaker. I was born in Taiwan and grew up there until age 9 (3rd grade) and moved to Saudi Arabia with my parents.  Then I came to the US for high school and have stayed here in the US since. When I was in Saudi Arabia, I learned Chinese by going to Chinese school once a week, which followed the Mandarin curriculum in Taiwan, and I completed that through 9th grade.  My Mandarin was kept up mainly because we spoke only mandarin at home, and we spent 2 months during summer vacation every year in Taiwan until I was half way through college, and my love for reading Chinese novels.

My husband: 3rd generation Mexican American.  English is his first language and he probably knows 5 words in Chinese and random words he repeats after my daughter.  He learned Spanish throughout high school and college, and is fluent but does not speak Spanish to our daughter.

Both my husband and I work full time about 50 hours per week out of the house, and then some more from home at times.  We have a full time nanny who speaks Spanish to the kids.


My daughter is 5.5 now. I first start really making an effort with teaching Chinese when she was 1.5 years old. Before that she probably spoke more Spanish because of the nanny. I am pretty sure her first words were: mas agua. My initial goal was just creating a habit of bedtime reading together so every night we would read together one chinese story book. I also had her watch Qiaohu.  We did this for about a year, then I started teaching her some Chinese characters. She went to an immersion preschool from age 2.5 to 4.5 which was ok, the teacher spoke too much English for my liking.

But around age 4 was when she started talking a lot more in Mandarin, and I started making an effort to speak as much Mandarin with her as possible.  We also switched to a different immersion school for TK, and the Mandarin education was much better than the previous school. Currently our Mandarin exposure at home consists of bedtime reading, watching Qiaohu, watching cartoons in Mandarin, and Mandarin conversation with me.  

My son is 10 months old and doesn’t speak.

In her own words

Why did you choose Sagebooks?

My daughter really didn’t understand or speak much in Mandarin until 4. Around age 3.5 we started using my first Chinese words from Better Chinese. I thought the constant short sentences might teach her how to string some short sentences together and we also started some character recognition just using some word cards I had lying around.

I also did a lot of research around that time on how to teach Mandarin and read through many of Mandarin Mama and Guavarama’s posts, and I realized Sagebooks wouldn’t be suitable for her to start with.   Then around age 4 we went home to Taiwan for Chinese New Years and she was playing with her cousin (who spoke no English), then suddenly I realized she was using every effort to string together every word she knew to communicate with her cousin and she was conversing in Chinese especially with people she thinks can not speak English.

So finally with this background, and also the desire to keep count of how many characters she knows (for myself mostly), and after reading so many accounts of parents using it, I decided to start with Sagebooks. 

What was your experience with going through Sagebooks?

By the time we started Sagebooks, my daughter just turned 5, and already knew about 150-200 characters from prior, so the first two sets went pretty fast.  We started set 3 maybe about 3 months ago, and we just finished set 3 book 3, so this set is going much slower. We don’t have a set plan on a daily basis, but Sagebooks is a part of our bedtime routine.


I like it that I can just do one lesson a day if I am really tired, or I can power through 4 lessons if I am up for it.  After I finish going through a book, usually I do another review through it before I move on to another book. I might do a second review if I feel that the words are not sticking well enough.  Usually after a second review, whether she’s learned all the words or not, I move on to the next book, just to keep interest up.

What did your typical lesson look like? Did you do additional activities?

We usually go over two lessons per day.  I usually will have her trace the character, then she will try to read out loud the sentences by herself and I’ll help her with the characters she doesn’t know.  We don’t use pinyin at this time. After we finish a book, we go back again to review 4 lessons at a time, so this will finish the book review in about 1 week. Depending on how much she retains, I may go back again to the same book, and review again, before moving on to the next book.  The only additional activities I add is using the treasure books to supplement the reading. For set 1 and set 2 the stories are short enough. For set 3, the stories are longer so I usually just have her go through 4 pages of that at a time.

What did you like about Sagebooks? Was there anything you didn't?

I like Sagebooks because I don’t have to organize anything or think too much,  I think it’s good for Moms who have 50 hour work weeks and who falls asleep before their kid =)    I do notice small errors here and there, for example, where there should be the word 完 at the end of the lesson, it would be missing.

If you have more than one child, would you do it again?
Definitely planning to use this with my second kid.  This is an expensive set, have to make it worthwhile!  I am hoping I can start earlier with my second child for her Chinese Language Learning.
Any advice for parents who are just starting?

For starting, I would say be patient with your child.  When my daughter was 2 and couldn’t understand much I said in Chinese, I thought the day will never come that she and I will be conversing in Mandarin.  Even if they don’t pick up the characters in the beginning, with persistence it will come eventually. Set small daily goals so that it’s manageable, or even weekly goals, and have fun together learning!

Thanks so much for taking the time to write such thorough responses, Vickie W! We really appreciate it.



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Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.