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Chapter 2 Making Learning Easy 1. It is not difficult to make children literate-Woodmam

A child does not need to struggle with learning in the first place. Any child who feels miserable because of learning does so because he has encountered incorrect guidance. With a change of concept and method, your child's learning can become easy and enjoyable.

                       1. It is not difficult to make children literate

          The fact that she suddenly knows so many words in a short period of time is actually a very simple and natural process, a quantitative to qualitative change. This phenomenon is ultimately due to education, and is the result of a correct educational method that parents have intentionally or unintentionally implemented.

  Yuan Yuan is not the kind of "prodigy" who can know thousands of words at the age of two or three, and I have never deliberately taught her to recognize words or made a literacy card for her. But just after her sixth birthday, more than half a year before she started elementary school, she surprised us by suddenly knowing so many words!

  She stopped pestering me to tell her stories and, as a little girl, she was actually reading a book by herself with great interest. I took a new Mickey Mouse magazine and asked her to read it to me. I sincerely praised my daughter for her good reading.

  For the first time, she experienced the joy of reading through literacy, and her interest in reading books alone grew. Through reading, she learned many new words, and this virtuous cycle led to a steep increase in Yuan Yuan's literacy. So much so that a few months later, by the time she was in first grade, reading language books was a piece of cake for her.

  I remember her first day as an elementary school student, she carried back a bag of textbooks from school. When she got home, she pulled out the new books and put them on the dining room table with a look of excitement. Dad found an old calendar and gave her a copy of the book cover, she sat next to him and read the language book from cover to cover with great interest. Listening to her reading aloud, I was pleased to know that my daughter had easily overcome the "literacy barrier" that elementary school students face without realizing it.

  It seemed like a small "miracle" that Yuan Yuan had reached the literacy and reading level of a third grader when she first entered elementary school, much to the amazement of her teachers and to my surprise. But I knew very well that Yuan Yuan was a very normal child, and the fact that she suddenly knew so many words in a very short period of time was actually a very simple and natural process, a quantitative to qualitative change. This phenomenon is ultimately due to education, and is the result of a correct educational method that parents have intentionally or unintentionally implemented.

  I would like to talk about my approach here, with the aim of making more children like Yuan Yuan literate easily and early. This is not only meaningful for children in the preschool or elementary school literacy stage, but may also have a profound impact on their lifelong learning.

  My approach is actually very simple: from the first time I pick up a book and tell her a story, I don't "tell" it, but "read" it. That is, instead of translating the story into spoken language or "children's language", I read it to her word by word, exactly as it was written in the book.

  I think that for a child as pure as white paper, any vocabulary is new to him. What we think is "common" or "not common" is actually the same to him. The words "the big bad wolf is taking a leisurely walk" and "the big bad wolf is walking slowly" are not more difficult for a child who is just learning to speak to understand. He accepts what we initially instill in him. Some parents tell stories to their children for fear that they will not understand them, so they turn the written words into colloquialisms, which is actually unnecessary. Just as a person who grew up speaking Chinese will have difficulty with English, a child who grew up listening to English will never find it difficult to listen to English. So don't worry, children are curious about everything by nature, and "reading" to them or "telling" them is equally attractive to them.

  I don't know if she understood me when I first read to her, but every time I read to her, she listened with rapt attention and her bright eyes were full of pleasure. The books I bought for her were read over and over again, each time I pointed out word by word, and when Yuan Yuan began to talk, she babbled and parroted along, becoming more and more able to recite the stories told by her mother, sentence by sentence, and often pretending to read by herself.

  I clearly remember when Yuan Yuan was one year and eight months old, her father's colleague came to visit the house, and Yuan Yuan stood next to her uncle and told him a story, reading "The Ugly Duckling" with great devotion. She pointed her little finger at the words in the book and read them word by word: "The little duckling walked alone and listlessly to the river ......" She turned page by page and "read" basically word by word. I was amazed at the sight of my uncle, who thought she could read and write. I laughed and said, where, she memorized what I read to her. She certainly did not have the concept of words at that time, I guess she did not know what the relationship between the words in her mouth and her fingers pointed to, but was just mechanically imitating her mother's voice and movements when telling the story.

  In this way, I kept telling Yuan Yuan stories in a "reading" way, paying attention to the sound and emotion. As she grew up, I found that "reading" instead of "telling" did not affect her understanding at all and enriched her language vocabulary. She can always find the right words to express herself in the middle of a sentence, and rarely has the difficulty that children have when they want to express themselves but don't know how to say it, or when the words don't make sense.

  Moreover, in the process, she began to know some words, which convinced me of the benefits of "reading". So I took it a step further and changed from me pointing to read word by word to her pointing to me. Where she pointed, I read. Gradually, Yuan Yuan understood the role of words and connected the story to the words. Words are not empty and boring at all in her eyes, they have content, they are stories, they are interesting and vivid.

  When we take her to public places, we always point out some words to her, for example, at the train station, I read "No Smoking" to her, telling her that there are many people here and the air is bad, and this sign tells people not to smoke here; when we go to the zoo, we read the signs together, and then we find the animals we want to see. When we entered the department store, we first read the shopping guide sign together and went straight to the floor we wanted to go to without any problems.

  As time goes by, Yuan Yuan develops a habit of reading out the words she sees. Every time I took her on the bus, she would keep reading the names of the stores and billboards she saw on both sides of the road, asking me about the words she didn't know, and I was always excited to read the signs with her, and when we read some interesting store names, we would talk about them together.

  I have never counted how many words Yuan Yuan knew when she was five years old, but I have the impression that the words she knew before she was five years old were scattered, and she could not read the books by herself, so I always told her about them. After the age of five, within a short period of time - perhaps due to some accidental factor, for example, she asked her mother to tell her a story, and her mother said there was no time, you can read it by yourself first, so she started to read books by herself. Her curiosity about the contents of the book was so strong that she could not care about the rudiments of the text and read it in one gulp, and her curiosity was satisfied. I promptly praised her for knowing so many words and reading the book by herself, and then read the words she did not know to her, and the story was absorbed by her - she got great pleasure from reading in a completely personal way, and since then there was a bit of an unstoppable momentum, and the more she read the book, the more words she recognized.

  By the time Yuan Yuan reached second grade, her reading ability was on the level of a middle school student. While most of the students in her class were still focusing on learning vocabulary, she was already reading long novels one after another. Of course, she often misreads words, so we jokingly call her "the king of white words". I reminded her to ask her mom and dad if she didn't know any words, but she didn't ask us about the words that didn't affect her understanding because she was in a hurry to read the story, and we didn't care, so she did as she pleased. In fact, after reading more, many of the "white words" were solved naturally.

  By the time Yuan Yuan graduated from elementary school at the age of ten, she had finished reading all of Jin Yong's martial arts novels, fourteen in total, about thirty to forty books; several of Zheng Yuanjie's series of fairy tales; in addition to foreign masterpieces such as "Jane Eyre", "Robinson Crusoe" and the Chinese classics "Dream of the Red Chamber", etc. Other scattered children's literature books and various newspapers and magazines are countless.

  Because Yuan Yuan reads a lot of books and has good comprehension, she excels in all other subjects and always has an easy time in her studies. She finished the second grade and went straight to the fourth grade, still being one of the top students in her class. She was the youngest in the class, but she acted as if she was several years older than her actual age in terms of maturity and understanding of problems.

  When Yuan Yuan was in the fourth grade, I bought her a children's edition of "General History of China" in traditional Chinese characters in vertical format, sixteen-page book, about one inch thick. We often took time to read it together, because she did not know the traditional Chinese characters, at first I pointed out to her word by word. When she was halfway through the book, traditional Chinese characters were no longer a problem for her, and she read the second half on her own. She now finds it very convenient to read some Chinese materials published by Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas.

  At the 2008 National People's Congress meeting, one delegate proposed that elementary school students should be allowed to learn traditional Chinese characters, and this proposal was reported by several media outlets. The delegate's idea is a good one, but I am concerned that if this idea is implemented into school teaching and children are taught traditional characters using the current conventional literacy methods, primary school students will really be exhausted.

  The heavy academic burden of elementary school students is not only brought about by too many "extracurricular classes", but also by incorrect teaching methods. The children's access to the characters is basically limited to the text, and each character is often written ten or twenty times, isolated to recognize and write, which makes the children work very hard, but get very little achievement. The children are still worried to death about writing simplified characters, writing traditional characters ...... children to know, certainly opposed to this proposal.

  Traditional Chinese characters are not impossible to learn, but the most important thing is how to learn easily.

  In the education of Yuan Yuan, I deeply appreciate that integrating the learning of vocabulary in the daily life and building on a lot of reading basically is a very effective educational method. Not only is it easy for the child to learn, but it is also easy for the adults to actually get twice the result with half the effort.

  Whenever I see a parent proudly proclaiming how many words or English words his preschool-age child knows, and his method is to make a bunch of cards or post the English words all over the house, I am always a little worried, is this okay?

  Nowadays, there are many "early education institutions", and what they call "early education" is actually to let children know some words or letters and words. The learning process may be fancy, some are playing the "alphabet role", some are together to shout out a certain syllable, the essence is also isolated learning words. I wonder if such a curriculum is meaningful to children.

  One of the most important contributions of the famous American psychologist D.P. Ausubel to educational psychology is the concept of "meaningful learning," which is the opposite of "mechanical learning. His important assertion is that meaningful learning is valuable. According to his theory, meaningless syllables and paired adjectives can only be learned mechanically, because such material cannot be substantially related to any existing idea in the human cognitive structure, and such learning is entirely mechanical. Therefore, it is inefficient learning. (1)

  The other day I read another news from the newspaper that a four-year-old child could recognize 2,000 Chinese characters. It turned out that his grandfather had posted the words all over the house and made the child recognize them every day. People who learn foreign languages know that if you memorize words in isolation, you will forget them quickly, but if you put the words into context, the effect is very good. So it's a bad thing if a child can recognize a lot of words but can't focus on reading a book. Cutting literacy and reading apart can destroy a child's interest and self-confidence in literacy early on.

  Learning that is coupled with showing off is the worst, and I'm afraid it's just making a pretty soap bubble.

  Rousseau said, "People are taking great pains to find the best way to teach reading and writing, some inventing single-word spelling cards and word cards, others turning a child's room into a printing press. How pathetic!" (2)

  Harmonious and reasonable methods are often beautiful and effective; bad methods complicate and make ineffective what is otherwise simple; we should pay special attention to finding good methods in children's education and not take for granted bad methods to teach children.

  Special Tips

  From the first time I picked up a book and told her a story, I did not "tell" it, but "read" it. That is, I did not translate the story into spoken words or "children's language" and read it to her word by word exactly as it was written in the book.

  Gradually, instead of the mother pointing and reading one word at a time, the child points and the mother reads. The child points and the mother reads. In this way, the child slowly understands the role of words and connects the story to the words.

  When we take her to public places, we always point out some words to her. For example, I read "No Smoking" to her at the train station, telling her that there are many people here and the air is bad.

  When she reads more, many of the "white words" will be solved naturally.

  It is a very effective way of teaching children to integrate the learning of words into their daily lives and to build on a lot of reading. Not only is it easy for children to learn, but it is also easy for adults to learn with half the effort.

  It's not good if a child knows a lot of words but can't concentrate on reading a book. Cutting literacy and reading apart can destroy a child's interest and self-confidence in literacy early on.

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