Frequently Asked Questions

The materials for the Chinese Idioms Literacy Program cater for three different levels – basic, intermediary and advanced. Children as young as 3-4 years old can enroll into this program. From the language mastery point of view, one can start from “ground zero”. That is to say, even if one does not know a single Chinese character neither know how to pronounce a single Chinese word, one can still enroll into this program as a starting base for learning Chinese. This is because this set of materials will start with the most frequently used Chinese words and using the most basic level of Chinese.

Many parents mistakenly thought that in order to learn Chinese idioms, we need to first tell the child about the fables behind the idioms. This will make it easier for the child to understand the meaning of the idiom. In actual fact, this is the wrong way to learn idioms. This is because majority of the idioms are not derived from historical records, biographies, fable legends, historical language, proverbs, foreign idioms, etc, a majority are derived from long term usage of certain phrases grouped together. Out of the 1064 idioms in our Chinese Idioms Literacy Program, only slightly more than 150 idioms come with a story and majority of these stories are no longer suitable for the current reader.

However, as some of the stories behind the idioms are really quite classic and famous, they tend to leave a wrong impression that all idioms have stories. In actual fact, most of the familiar stories belong to idioms that are not frequently used, more example “刻舟求剑”(inflexible to changing circumstances), “黔驴技穷”(whatever talent is left has also been used up), “汗牛充栋”(an immense number of books), etc. However, if we let the child learn idioms through classic stories – firstly, even if the child remembers the story, he may not be able to memorize the exact four Chinese words that will make up the idiom. Secondly, the number of idioms that he can grasp and use would never be enough for competent usage.

Moreover, the meaning of many idioms can be found in the words themselves. Understanding the meaning of the idioms is not difficult. The difficulty lies in whether one knows how to apply them in conversations and essays competently. As the child grows older, his mastery of the Chinese language will strengthen, and his ability to understand and apply the Chinese idioms will grow too.

The Chinese Idioms Literacy Program is a set of independent, systematic and complete Chinese language mastery education materials. From pronunciation, recognition of words, learning of phrases and sentences, writing and reading, it covers every aspect of learning the Chinese language. It has no pre-requisites for age, the level of Chinese foundation and geographic region. Once the student starts onto this program, he will definitely benefit for life. Hence, it is not designed for the purpose of tackling exams. However, being able to master the Chinese Idioms Literacy Program would mean mastery of the different aspects of learning Chinese, and thus make handling any sort of Chinese test or exam a breeze.

The Chinese Idioms Literacy Program is a complete set of Chinese learning materials that covers pronunciation, word recognition, forming phrases and sentences, writing and reading. When a child can accurately pronounce the Chinese idioms, we have already achieved the objective of training pronunciation. This is because articulation of Chinese words requires different parts of the vocal chords from the articulation of English words. It is therefore important to let the children be able to recite the Chinese idioms confidently and loudly. This would greatly help the children in speaking Mandarin later on. At the same time, the memory ability of children at this stage of their life is the strongest. Hence it is the best time to let them store a large amount of Chinese idioms by repeated recitation. Once stored, the idioms would eventually be assimilated and understood by the child as he grows up.

The objective of having the child to be able to recognize the Chinese words is just a means to eventually helping the child to read in Chinese. The prerequisite to reading in Chinese is to first be able to recognize the words. Chinese words are in pictorial format, whereas English words are formed phonetically. Hence, once you are able to grasp the English alphabets phonetically, you can read in English. However, for Chinese, one needs to be familiar with at least 3500 frequently used Chinese words before being able to read competently. There is no technique to learning these words except pure memorization. To the child, it is equivalent to memorizing 3500 pictures. And the best time for memorization, based on the human physiological development, has to be when the child is between 3-6 years old.

It is only when the one has recognized enough Chinese words then one can proceed to reading Chinese competently. We all know that reading is the key to knowledge and the basic to learning different subject matters. Therefore, being able to read is of utmost importance. Once the child knows how to read, he can freely roam through different kinds of books offering different knowledge. Handing the materials from textbooks and examinations would be manageable. By this time, Chinese mastery has become an ability that will benefit the child for life and no doubt be a valuable asset in future.

Our classes are categorized into the following age bands
1) 4 -6 years old
2) 5-8 years old
3) 9-12 years old
4) Above 13 years old
Age is not the most important prerequisite in word recognition. As long as children within the same age band start learning together, they will benefit. The older student may not necessarily perform better than a younger student. This is because the critical ability to word recognition is the ability to memorize and not the ability to understand. Hence, the worries that the learning results may be affected by the age gap are unfounded.

Children usually do not understand the meaning of the idioms. When a child is young, his memory ability is stronger than his understanding ability, which will eventually catch up as the child grows older. Hence, we start off first by helping the child to store a large database of idioms in his memory first. As he grows and his grasp of the Chinese language improves, he would eventually learn to understand and apply the Chinese idioms that have been stored in his memory.

The philosophy behind the Chinese Idioms Literacy Program is a reverse of the normal method of learning because it first focused on memorization first before understanding. The reason being that by the time one starts to develop the ability to understand, it would probably also mean one’s ability to memorize is starting to weaken. Hence, it is a wiser approach to harness one’s memory ability when it is the strongest. For children, memorization is a kind of game, a form of desire, so they tend not to focus too much on the meaning of the Chinese idioms. Adults however, tend to get stuck on this idea of understanding first before memorizing. Therefore, knowledgeable and wise parents should try to understand the world from a child’s perspective and see things from a child’s point of view.

Our set of materials include CDs which have two different types of tracks. One is the learning track, where there is a pause for students to repeat after the teacher, which is especially helpful for beginners. The other track is the recitation of all the Chinese idioms from beginning to end, which allow students to read as it goes or memorize. As the idioms are arranged in an easy to follow rhythm, it is a pleasure to listen. Parents can play the CDs anytime in the car, in the study room, as background music while playing with the children or as a bedtime routine. All it takes is 10 minutes a day to experience wonderful results.

In addition, the set of materials also include a set of word cards, which can be used for different kinds of word games to play with the child.

It is ideal if parents can help with some revision of the idioms, but parents need not worry if they do not have the luxury of time, perseverance and consistency in attending lessons is the most important aspect in the learning journey.

The Ministry of Education in China mandated the learning of 3500 commonly used Chinese words. The words are categorized into high frequency words, common words and uncommon words. There are approximately 500 high frequency words which would enable one to read approximately 80% of the normal reading materials. We need to recognize about 2315 words in order to read 99% of the available reading materials.

There are three levels in the Chinese Idioms Literacy Program – Basic, Intermediary and Advanced. The Basic and Intermediary levels would cover 264 frequently used idioms, which also include the high frequency words. This would highly increase the reading effectiveness of the student.

At the Advanced level, there are 800 Chinese idioms, out of which the first 400 include the mandatory 60 idioms required by Singapore’s Ministry of Education for primary school students and 250 idioms required for secondary students. The next 400 idioms include the 2300 frequently used Chinese words.

Course Name Suitable Age Group to start Materials Content
doudoushizi
Chinese Idioms Literacy
(Basic)
4-6 years old
(N2-K2)
5 books, 1 CD and flashcards
  • 165 commonly used words
  • 64 Chinese idioms
  • 100 common phrases
  • 25 standard sentences
  • 8 reading passages
  • 6 sets of pictures for oral conversation
  • 16 writing words
Chinese Idioms Literacy
(Intermediate 1)
6-8 years old
(K1-P2)
8 books, 1 CD and Chinese Idioms flashcards
  • 250 commonly used words
  • 100 Chinese idioms
  • 240 common phrases
  • 60 standard sentences
  • 6 sets of pictures for oral conversation
  • 60 writing words
  • 15 short reading passages
  • Sentence practices
Chinese Idioms Literacy
(Intermediate 2)
6-8 years old
(K1-P2)
8 books and 1 CD
  • 250 commonly used words
  • 100 Chinese idioms
  • 240 common phrases
  • 60 standard sentences
  • 6 sets of pictures for oral conversation
  • 60 writing words
  • 15 short reading passages
  • Sentence practices
Chinese Idioms Literacy
(Advanced 1
9 years old and above
(P3-P6)
6 books and 1 CD
  • 1125 commonly used words
  • 400 Chinese idioms
  • 1000 phrases
  • 50 reading passages
  • Combined practices
Chinese Idioms Literacy
(Advanced 1)
9 years old and above
(P3-P6)
6 books and 1 CD
  • 1125 commonly used words
  • 400 Chinese idioms
  • 1000 phrases
  • 50 reading passages
  • Combined practices
Chinese Idioms Literacy for
Secondary Students
Secondary School
(S1-S4)
Full set of Chinese Idioms Literacy Advanced 1 & 2
  • 2500 commonly used words
  • 800 Chinese idioms
  • 2000 phrases
  • 100 reading passages
  • Combined practices

The “Cool” in has two layers of meaning。Firstly, it rhymes with the Chinese word “warehouse (cāng kù)”. Chinese idioms forms an important essence of the Chinese language of which one’s mastery of the language can be assessed based on the depth of understanding and usage. Hence, a child benefits greatly if a large amount of Chinese idioms is stored in his memory. The whole set of materials in compiles a total of 1,064 frequently used Chinese Idioms. This can definitely equip a child adequately for a lifetime of learning Chinese.

Secondly, the program aims to inspire the child with lots of positivity and enthusiasm towards learning Chinese and let the child feels that it is really cool to learn Chinese and cool to learn Chinese idioms. In addition, it is also cool to be able to speak, write and apply Chinese in daily use well. has made learning Chinese easier, happier and simpler!

There are many methods of teaching Chinese literacy in the market. However, most results only in students being able to recognize and read the words but not necessarily help the child to be able to apply. Hence, after a while, the child may tend to forget what has been learnt. The reason that uses Chinese idioms as the basic ingredients is because besides helping a child to recognize and read words in a highly efficient manner, it also helps the child to apply what has been learnt because every Chinese idiom has a meaning to it. And due to the four-word nature of every Chinese idiom, it enables easy memorization and recitation when compiled into a rhythmic passage. Hence, students are able to remember large amounts of meaningful Chinese idioms.

Great amount of effort is put into choosing the Chinese idioms that go into . There are about 3500 commonly used words in the Chinese language. These include highly frequently used words, common words and non-common words. For the beginner in learning Chinese, mastering the highly frequently used words is of most importance. Hence, in the and , most of the idioms are made up of highly frequently used words. These idioms are then arranged in a rhythmic pattern which connects in a pair, and four pairs and then eight pairs. In this way, students can easily digest and recite tens of idioms, even hundreds of them in a single breath effortlessly.

For , the focus is to first include the Chinese idioms that are stipulated for compulsory learning by the Singapore’s Ministry of Education for primary students (60) and O’level students (250), followed by 2500 commonly used Chinese words and then other commonly used Chinese idioms to make up the 800 Chinese idioms in the program.

can be considered a classic piece of work , designed to enhance the learning effectiveness by incorporating the essence of four-words Chinese idioms. It is also a comprehensive and complete set of materials covering word recognition, the learning of Chinese idioms, sentence formation, reading and comprehension and essay writing.