Primary One Diary – Resources for Chinese Oral (Part 1)

We’re finally done with the first half of the year in Primary One. And just like what most experienced parents shared, the first half year in primary one was a rather smooth sailing, honeymoon period in terms of academics.
The biggest adjustment for Sophie was not so much in her studies academic but rather the whole works of waking early, being used to a huge class of 30 compared to just 6, navigating the tricky bit about making friends and choosing your recess company.

But I’ve also heard from friends that their primary ones are struggling with school work as they are either in some elite school or new school where the principal is out to prove their academic muscles. While Sophie comes home with homework 2 or 3 times a week, their kid gets smart work every single day and that includes e-learning and preparing for show on tell on PowerPoint! So if you want to avoid such stress for your kids, choose your primary school carefully!

Chinese Oral Learning Resources

Among Sophie’s subjects at school, I was most concern if she was going to cope well doing Higher Chinese in a SAP school. I would say that Sophie had a relatively good foundation in Chinese, thanks to the drilling from her childcare teachers as well as Berries enrichment classes. No doubt, she got started slightly later than most at 5 years old, it did prove to be beneficial and it made learning Chinese so much more interesting.

Nevertheless, it was surprising that she got selected by her Chinese teacher to be a 小老师 to assist her classmates who are weaker in the subject. She takes great pride in her duty as a 小老师and it shows when she recounts incidents of how she helped her classmates in their reading or clarifying questions they have.

Although Sophie doesn’t have mid year exams at Primary One, they still had a series of mini tests where they are graded for their CAs and according to her teachers, one of the easiest “paper” to score is in their oral. To prepare Sophie for her Chinese oral, I’ll make her read widely and that includes the Chinese dictionary.

I have two of such Chinese picture dictionaries and I find them very helpful in learning terms that we usually don’t use. Both. Both versions are bilingual and comes with Hanyu Pinyin where they are categorized by themes like animals, insects, in the playground, school concert, at the supermarket etc.

My Thematic Dictionary by Marshall Cavendish 

Here there are 32 themes and 819 frequently used words and they even explore topics like planets, occupations, transportation, underwater world, just to name a few.

Pictures are neatly arranged in rows with Chinese, English and Hanyu Pinyin, making it easy for systematic reading.


My First Picture Dictionary by Scholastic

Another thematic Chinese dictionary  we use is this one version which was recommended by her school teacher. I prefer this latter version as it is filled with colourful and captivating illustration which makes for a more interesting read.

Here there are 38 themes and about 1,000 frequently used words.

A feature that I like is the  知识小百科 in each section like a Did You Know segment that gives little nuggets of general knowledge on the background of the topic like how music was first discovered,  how a coral reef forms, etc. In each theme, there is also a section on unit of measurement, which I find very helpful especially.


And since both versions of dictionary are largely picture based, you can use them to practice 看图说话 with your child by prompting them with questions using the 5Ws, 1H. For example,

  • where is the place
  • who are the characters in the picture
  • which part of the day do you think this is in (when)
  • what do you think they are doing
  • why is the person behaving this way
  • how can you be like this person

There are also related short passages in each theme that can act as a guide for oral practice.


I’m sure that by now most parents are aware about the changes to the Chinese oral exams made by MOE where they have to use video instead of the picture. I don’t see it as a major change and the picture oral is still the way to build their foundation.

Do look out for Part 2 of this series where I share other helpful resources to prepare your kids for their Chinese oral.

Head over to Beanie N Us blog where she shares other useful guides on preparing for Chinese oral too

Here are some useful links to prepare for Primary One that I wrote earlier this year.

Primary One Diary

Other Links on Learning Chinese 

I’ll love to hear from you. Do share your list of helpful resources to help your kids prepare for their Chinese oral too.

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Comments: 15

  1. Dee May 20, 2016 at 11:15 am Reply

    PowerPoint? Higher Chinese?? Video for oral??? Doesn’t sound like P1!! *shudder*

    • Susan May 20, 2016 at 2:05 pm Reply

      I know right? No wonder parents and kids are all stressed out by school.

  2. MummyEd May 20, 2016 at 1:17 pm Reply

    Great review of the books! Can they be found in Popular? I just bought the one that Alicia recommended yesterday, but the more the merrier, especially for first time mums like me (and can also pass down the books to the younger kids).

    • Susan May 20, 2016 at 2:41 pm Reply

      The one that Alicia recommended is similar to the 2nd book in my posts. I purchased both from Popular but I heard they revamped the first book so the cover looks different now. But yeah, explore your options at the bookshop and see which is more suitable. I actually have a few more titles which were very useful and I hope to blog about them soon.

  3. June May 23, 2016 at 10:21 pm Reply

    This is helpful, thanks for sharing your books and tips Susan! Was meaning to write something about learning Chinese too, it’s such a struggle for the kids!

    • Susan May 24, 2016 at 6:54 pm Reply

      I wished it would be less dreadful at times too. So it helps to make learning Chinese more interactive and fun 🙂

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