Revising for ting xie using apps
This post has links to all the word lists I have created which align with the MOE Primary Chinese curriculum 欢乐伙伴. They’re ready-made word lists to use with your child to practice ting xie.
Helping children to revise for the weekly Chinese spelling tests is a challenge, especially if you cannot read Chinese. I fully appreciate the difficulty of this. That’s why for our family Skritter is an essential app, which all kids use for both learning and revising their ting xie (听写). I’ve added wordlists that I have made based around the Singapore MOE textbooks into this app to share with you.
I’ve previously written a detailed post about Skritter last year, which is a good place to start if you haven’t heard of Skritter before. If you do know what Skritter is already, continue reading below.
Understanding the Singapore MOE Chinese character lists
The Singapore MOE textbooks (Chinese Language For Primary School Textbook 欢乐伙伴) do contain a character list at the back of each book. These are not words or vocabulary per se, but rather lists of characters divided by chapter. Each chapter roughly takes 2 weeks, (but I’ve been told that some of the brand name schools will rush each chapter in one week, so they’re able to get further ahead).
The characters at the back of the books are divided into tables showing the “must recognise” and “must be able to write”. But, they’re still not words. They also don’t come with any translation or pinyin, which increases the challenge for non-native Chinese parents.
Let me enlighten you…. there is an easier place to look at the words in the chapters of the book themselves. In the book text itself within each chapter, you’ll see: “我会认” which is what students are only required to recognise, readout, and write in hanyu pinyin. 我会写 requires everything in 我会认 but in addition, the child must know how to write the character.
However, these are still not actual WORDS.
Going from character lists to word lists
Some schools (very few in fact) just drill the child on characters. However most schools will expect an understanding of how to use the characters in actual words. It’s these words which will make up the weekly spelling tests The latter is also a sensible approach if you want your child to understand the characters in context and usage, but it creates an even bigger challenge for a parent as these wordlists are not typically supplied from the schools.
I learnt from other parents that the lowest effort approach to finding words is to go through the accompanying workbooks and texts and pull out words / sentences containing the relevant characters. It’s probably simple if you can read the text. Yet it actually requires quite a lot of patience and technical assistance if you’re an illiterate parent like me. Which is why I’m making this post, because in it, I’m sharing the word lists in case it helps you spend more evenings playing with your kids rather the scouring Chinese textbooks and deciphering character.
At the start of each school semester, I upload all the weekly tingxie characters, along with some selected words that these characters are contained within (eg instead of adding just 你, I would add 你好, or instead of 下, maybe 下午). I’ve now collated these from Primary 1 to Primary 5.
Why actual words are important
Chinese words are made up of combinations of characters. A child could be able to read each individual character but have no idea how they work together. Hence why extensive reading is an important aspect to attaining fluency in a language, especially a non phonetic one. If you start out by focusing on words during tingxie revision, it will mean that your child will learn actual vocabulary, and this in turn will help with reading comprehension too. ,
The real vocabulary lists which you should be studying are not the characters in the back of the textbook BUT the word lists contained within the textbook chapter themselves. In the in-chapter vocabulary lists, it often highlights words to use for basic level (the grey colour background in the example below), and then the additional vocabulary for higher-performing students (pink colour background).
Is there an easy way to collate out all the words related to the characters from the books? I have never seen one. If you do, let me know.
Ting xie word lists in Skritter
This is the main point for this post. HERE ARE THE TING XIA WORD LISTS!!!!
I’ve put my improvised word lists based around the MOE characters lists into Skritter app, because that’s the app we use. These are the links to the word lists I’ve created. If you set up your own Skritter account, you can add these lists, and start learning. Alternatively, you could export them and add into a different learning app. Skritter does have a 7 day free trial, and no, I have no affiliation with them nor profit/sponsorship from this post 🙂
We’ve tried a few different Chinese writing apps, and if practicing stroke order and writing is what you’re looking for, then Skritter is the for sure the best option here.
Click links below to access:
Practising for ting xie
Frequent practice is always more effective than a last-minute cramming, and Skritter enables this. Skritter will read out the characters/words, demonstrate stroke order, test the child’s understanding of the word, definition and tone, and keep track of progress, including spaced recognition to keep up the repetition beyond just learning for the weekly tests.
The lists can be tailored to learn any or all of writing, reading, definition and tone. Under ‘settings’ you can choose which option for which words. The lists can be done in a ‘Learn’ mode, which shows examples and allows practice, and also in a ‘Test’ mode where the word order is randomised as the results are recorded. Usually I will turn off all the test modes aside from character writing, as I feel that’s the most engaging practice method. For a child who needs assistance with pinyin, it would be helpful to enable the ‘tones’ testing too.
Skritter is in no way fun nor a game. It’s simply an app which provides a stress-free and ordered approach for spaced repetition of wordlists. It provides a great option for non-native families, as the app itself can read out the words and give guidance on stroke order and formation, which is something I don’t have a chance of being able to do for my own children.
Of course, science has shown that even better for memory than an app is old fashioned pencil and paper writing. So once your child has learnt the words, you might ask them to write them out on paper too. We do this by opening the word list on Skritter, and I get Skritter to read out the word, and my child writes it on paper.
A fun way to reinforce the characters is to play games using the characters. Two paid apps I would recommend are iHuman Hong En Chinese (despite not having a Singapore MOE option it’s excellent) and Maomi Stars (which does contain the Singapore MOE curriculum for Primary 1). Another alternative for a non screen-based approach is the Alpha Egg AI writing pen (which uses real pen and paper).
Practising composition writing
Another great way to improve in ting xie is to actually use the words to create your own stories. There seems to be some reluctance – at least in traditional teaching pedagogy in Singapore – to let children start writing their own journals, or composition pieces until about P3. This means in Singapore, a child spends about 2 years (or more) learning how to write characters or words, before they are expected to put a sentence together. In a total contrast, in most English teaching approaches in US / UK / Australia, children are encouraged to write sentences before they can even spell!
My suggestion would be to start using the Chinese words as early as possible! Get your child to write a short comic, or a sentence, or speech bubble using words they’re learning. If they don’t know the words, they can draw a picture, or write an English word in replacement. Really using words and composing pieces will help make ting xie revision even easier.
If you’re in Singapore, you’ll be able to very easily (and cheaply) come by lined books for Chinese composition writing. Most don’t have space for a child to draw pictures and make their writing pretty, which is why I actually went a step further and designed my own journal writing books for my kids (with big squares, with pale yellow dotted guidance grid lines). Yes, I’m a bit nutty when it comes to Chinese learning. As an aside, I’ve now put these Chinese journal book templates up on Amazon (at print cost – Amazon do the printing and binding and will send to you) if you’re looking for something which is a little more appealing for a child. This is my first attempt at doing this, and any feedback is welcomed 🙂
- Chinese version – with 1 inch grid (for preschoolers)
- Chinese version – with 1.25cm grid (for primary)
- Bilingual version (alternates Chinese and English between the pages)
In case you’re looking for other suggestions for levelling up your child’s Chinese, here are some other earlier posts I have written: