Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Translators & New Concept English Books

Since my previous post about older child adoption we've received some awesome emails! Some are simply encouraging (which we always appreciate!) and some are encouraging with a few questions added. Please feel free to keep emailing! A few different people asked about translators and books so that will be today's topic.

1. Electronic Translator (& Pinyin).
The electronic translators are much less expensive in China and there is a much greater selection. The translator can go from Chinese to English and from English to Chinese. To use it, the Chinese pinyin is entered using the keyboard (so the kiddo must be able to write in pinyin) OR the English is typed in and then translated. Think it like a giant electronic dictionary.

Regarding pinyin, here is a neat website where you can click on some pinyin and hear a native speaker say the word. Note the same word can be said up to four different ways depending on TONE.

First off, I must say that Sarah HATED the translator from the get-go! But, I don't think that's always the case as I've heard of other kids who use it so much the lettering starts to wear off the keys. As with everything, I think it just depends on the kid.

To buy the translator, we asked our guide to take us to a large electronics store and to help us talk with the salespeople regarding the item. I don't know if we could have done this without his help. And everyone asks which translator Sarah has. Her model is a smaller white colored one with gold lettering on the front. In Chinese, the name is 文曲星 .

2. English Books.
Several people who read back on our blog about our trip to China asked about the English language study books we purchased while in China. Before traveling to China we had arranged with a visiting professor at the local college to tutor Sarah a few hours a week. This woman asked us to pick up these books while in China. The professor was only in the US for about 3 months after Sarah arrived so their study sessions together were limited. After she left, we had no way to use the books because they teach English via Chinese so we were unable to help anymore. Guess what I'm saying is don't get these books if for homeschooling unless you know Chinese as well.

But, if you have a Chinese teacher these books may be a great way to help your older child learn English. One note, they are done in "UK English" so you'll get things like "mum" instead of "mom". And they are a bit antiquated! My favorite lesson from the book was when Sarah was learning "professions" and one profession was "keyboard operator." Also, the next lesson asked the student to match a word with a profession. The "correct" (according to the book!) match for "housewife" was "lazy"!

Anyway, these books are called "New Concept English" and come in four volumes with four matching workbooks. In Chinese, the book title is 新概念英语 . We purchased them in Guangzhou when our guide wrote down the Chinese name and address of a bookstore on a card, told us to grab a cab, give the card to the driver and he'd take us to the bookstore. She gave us another card with the address of the White Swan Hotel on it for us to give to the driver on the way back.

On a side note, it was our experience in two different large multi-level bookstores in China that when you select an item, you take that item to the counter on the floor you are on and the sales person will stamp the item (inside the back cover, for example). Then you take your stamped items to the bottom level to pay.


Michelle said...

Hi Debbi,
I recently found your blog through one of the Yahoo groups where you posted. (I am guessing it was AOK-2.) Funny that I have read quite a bit, but this is the first time I am actually looking at a big screen. I linked through on my iPhone and have been reading when I get little breaks at stop lights, picking up the girls, etc. Now I am finally able to really see what a beautiful daughter you have!! Stunningly beautiful!

I just wanted to say that I have enjoyed reading your posts as we are getting ready to adopt our third child who will be 11 by the time she comes home. Thanks for all your informative posts!


Tammy said...

Could you e-mail me? I'd like to know how long she had tutoring services in English when you first arrived in America? How did you work with the public school system to make sure she was placed in the right classes in the beginning? Did/do you have a lot of homework to do with her at home each night? How far behind is she compared to others in school that are her age? Will she know all she needs to know in order to get into college once she graduates from high school? (Have you homeschooled her in middle and/or high school over the summer or on weekends or had any other special tutoring to help her?) Have you had any major behavioral issues since she came to America? What is your number one piece of advice for adopting a child who is a pre-teen or teenager?

Kevin, Debbi and Sarah said...

Tammy -- I don't think I have your email address. Please send me a note to

Tammy said...

Hi, I'm at

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.