Chinese is one of the most spoken languages in the world. It was created and developed in a rich social, cultural and historical context. For people growing up in a different environment like Christchurch, learning Chinese can be challenging. Fortunately there are resources and strategies that can help.
Combining learning resources 整合学习资源
In Christchurch, there are diverse Chinese learning resources available, thanks to online resources and international migration. Some examples are as follows.
The combination of the three types of learning resources will create an ideal environment for learners to immerse in the social and cultural context of Chinese learning. Especially, Mango Language and Rosetta Stone Library Solution are good complements to class learning and enable learners to be independent in the learning process
Learning Chinese characters with stories 通过故事学中文字
Unlike English, Chinese writing is a logographic system with each character simultaneously encoding sounds and meaning at the level of the syllable. For example, the Chinese character “word”, 字, is explained as follows.
字： 篆体： ， 乳也。从子在宀下，子亦聲
The seal script of the Chinese character “word” is , referring to bringing up a son in a house so that he can become well-educated and literate (be able to read and understand words). The semantic part宀 represents the house, and the sound of 字 (zì) encodes that of the phonetic part 子 (zǐ).
Cang Jie’s creating Chinese characters ,仓颉造字, is a widely accepted explanation of the legendary origin of Chinese language. It is believed that Chinese writing was invented by a legendary figure Cang Jie, 仓颉，a court historian of the powerful Yellow Emperor. Inspired by the patterns of the tracks left behind by the feet of birds and other animals, he created Chinese writing with basic strokes as follows.
Xu Shen 许慎，a scholar of Han dynasty (206BCE-220CE), compiled a dictionary entitled “On graphs and composite graphs”, 《说文解字》. It explains the meaning, the sound and the composition of Chinese characters. Publications based on the dictionary, such as “Pictograph of Chinese Characters”, 《画说汉字》, are also useful resources for learners to understand the composition of Chinese characters and familiarise themselves with the historical origin of these characters.
When Lu You, 陆游, a poet of Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279) taught his son to write poems, he suggested, “if you want to learn how to write a good poem, you must go beyond gaining techniques on poetry writing”, 汝果欲学诗, 功夫在诗外. The idea can be applied to learning Chinese; that is, 功夫在字外. We should not only focus on gaining linguistic skills but also put an effort in broadening our knowledge on the social, cultural and historical context of the origin and development of Chinese language. Then, learning Chinese can become effective and fun.
I’m struggling with music notation and learning to read music… I should have paid attention when I tried to learn at 11, because now when I’m trying to learn at 55, it’s quite painful.
It just isn’t straight forward, there are weird rules and exceptions, and it’s more mathematical than I thought it would be. Add to that, I’m looking at it from a jazz perspective and my brain not only hurts but feels numb.
I’ve got books, and I’m in a class, but I recently thought, “hey there’s that Lynda woman in our Christchurch City Libraries eResources who offers videos to learn about just about anything… I wonder what she has to offer me?”
So I got my library card and my PIN ready to go: it’s one of our resources you do have to be a library member to use. I logged into Lynda, after finding it in the eResources section of our website.
Next, the search for ‘music’, which yielded a plethora of results from Intro to songwriting, Insider’s guide to today’s music biz, and Finding music using apple apps, and there amongst them was Music Theory.
I settled on learning musical notation and worked my way through a series of videos that I could stop, back up, repeat until some of what I was reading and practising was sinking in. There was also music theory for songwriters, improvisation and theory, and one I’m obviously not quite up to, Music Theory for Fun!
In the process, I learnt that you can adjust the skill level to suit you, as well as choose from specific authors and teachers, the length of course you want and a wealth of other limiters to make the learning truly suited to you.
But wait, you say I’m not interested in music theory.. stick with me here, because there are so many other things to learn, such as:
Become a Photographer
Publish an eBook
Become a Web Designer
Become a Motion Graphics Artist
Be a Small Business Owner
Be a Six Sigma Black Belt
So, check out our Lynda and expand your horizons… I’ll keep on with my key signatures and triads (not of the Chinese gang variety!)
Nursery rhymes are easy to remember, short to sing and have fun actions! So, in preparation for New Zealand Chinese Language Week (16-22 October) why not start your Chinese learning with Chinese nursery rhymes? Here are some easy Chinese nursery rhymes you can try. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about the different tones in Chinese. Try to match the tune.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are
Almost 700 million people are now over the age of 60. By 2050, 2 billion people, over 20 percent of the world’s population, will be 60 or older. According to Statistics New Zealand, here in Aotearoa by 2051, there will be over 1.14 million people aged 65 years and over. They are expected to make up 25.5 percent (or 1 in every 4) of all New Zealanders (4.49 million).
The Expo will be held at Papanui High School, and promises to be a fun day combining information about services for older adults with free entertainment.
Exhibitors will cover areas such as:
Health and Wellbeing
And of course staff from various units of the Christchurch City Council will also be there. Pop down and see the stand from Christchurch City Libraries. Library staff will be available to chat about the many ways in which we can help you enjoy our vast selection of print, audio and online resources.
As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Birds and books by Alex Preston
Having kept notebooks over many, many years, Preston has collected the words of dozens of writers. Each chapter is arranged around a bird, each bird illustrated by Neil Gower. The Guardian gives this book a rave review:
Memoir, or rather memory, gilds the narrative. The most moving chapter describes Preston’s father, bedbound with lymphoma, as he watches a family of collared doves on the rooftop opposite his window. He is woken by a fledgling dove on the windowsill inside the bedroom and tries to rescue the bird. Describing himself in the third person, Preston’s father writes: “Placid and accepting, she allows his right hand to embrace her body… while he emanates all he can in telepathic sedation. It, or something like it, must be working, for her wings remain static and spread, her breast neither heaving nor fluttering … How warm to the touch. He wants to stretch the moment to eternity.” This, perhaps, is the essence of the book, this longing for communion, for connection with things other than ourselves.
Basic Mathematics: An Introduction by Alan Graham
I reserved this book on a whim…I am not known for my mathematical ability and thought that it was about time I tackled what could almost be called a phobia. I must confess to scanning this book and promptly returned it, obviously I will need some more indepth counselling before I can tackle my “issues”. However, in the brief time that this book held my attention I did think it was very user-friendly, tackled basic concepts, and would be especially useful if you were struggling with keeping up with your school age children’s maths.
Honar: The Arkhami Collection of Modern and Contemporary Iranian Art A very disappointing cover hides a luscious book documenting the Afkhami collection of Iranian art. The art in the collection is incredibly varied and at times surprising. Each artist has their own essay, plus there are well written and interesting chapters devoted to the collection itself and to Iranian art history.
What’s Your Bias? The Surprising science of why we vote the way we do by Lee De-Wit
We may think that we make rational decisions when it comes to voting but apparently we are just as much affected by our personality traits and unconscious biases as we are by what the news media and political debates are telling us. Perhaps you want to know more about why you think Jacinda is just the ticket or what it is about Bill that makes him irresistible? Apparently you will get to know more about yourself and the bigger political picture!
Ahoy mateys! If it’s pirate chatter ye be after, you’ve come to the right place. Mango’s Pirate Language Course will teach you everything you need to know to “parley” in perfect Pirate.
Don’t be a lily-livered landlubber, belay yer carousin’ and haul wind smartly. Get on to Mango Languages and find some booty. Take your language skills across the seven seas me hearty, and join in the conversation. Arrrre ye up for the challenge of becoming a swashbuckler!
What be yer Pirate name, me hearty? check out the Pirate name generator below!
The theme for this year’s Māori Language Week is –
Kia ora te reo – Let the Māori language live
In celebration of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori we will be publishing a blog post each day incorporating te reo Māori or highlighting te reo Māori resources.
Te Reo Māori i Te Whare Pukapuka – Māori Language at The Library
Christchurch City Libraries – Ngā Kete Wānanga o Ōtautahi will be celebrating Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori with Wā Kōrero/Storytimes throughout the week with te reo Māori songs and stories. There will also be a couple of storytimes sessions extra to our usual schedule delivered by a bilingual presenter at Linwood and Aranui.
Beyond the official week celebrating te reo, a further initiative, Mahuru Māori, encourages te reo Māori speakers of all levels of ability to commit to speaking te reo Māori only during the month of Mahuru/September. Other options are to speak te reo Māori anake during a chosen day of the week, or for one week of the month. Te reo speakers can join the Mahuru Māori Facebook Group for support and help to complete the challenge. For te reo tweets during September follow @MahuruMaori.
Māori words and phrases from Māori Language.Net, includes commands, phrases to use with children, months of the year, greetings and more.
Kōrero Māori ki… – Speak Māori at…
In addition to online resources and titles available at your local library, the following initiatives and events can help bring some te reo into your day.
A cafe – Order your drink of choice in te reo at any of the cafes in our libraries (South, Upper Riccarton and Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre) or at The Kitchen cafe on the ground floor of the Christchurch City Council building on Hereford St and from 11-16 September you’ll get an extra sweet treat to go with your drink. Need help with how to place your cafe order in te reo? Te Taura Whiri o Te Reo Māori (The Māori Language Commission) has produced this fantastic guide to awhi you.
The post office – NZ Post is celebrating Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori this year with a range of stamps featuring Māori kupu (words) to do with technology. Learn new words like “ahokore” (wifi), “Pūnaha Kimi Ahunga” (Global Positioning System) or “waka hiko” (electric car).
Anywhere – Te Puni Kōkiri is distributing special “kōrero” badges so if you see someone wearing one it’s a tohu that they can carry out a conversation in te reo Māori and are happy to do so. Give them a cheery, “kia ora” if nothing else!
At school in England in the early 1980s I was given the opportunity to join an afterschool computer club. The only problem was that, being the early 1980s, our school didn’t actually have a computer. We had to write our programs in thick, dark pencil on stacks of cards that were taken away to a mysterious place, which we never got to see, where they would be fed into a computer.
Our teacher would bring the output to class the following week (or the week after that if there had been a glitch, or someone else needed the computer that week) and we would pore over the results with eager anticipation. Usually we quickly realised that we had made a fundamental error, and set about re-writing our program before waiting another week (or two) to see how things turned out. It was a glacially slow process, but an almost magical one. I don’t think I ever knew where this semi-mythical computer was, or what it looked like, but I imagined a strange colossal machine the size of a small house, similar to those depicted in Cold War science fiction films such as War Games, which were popular at the time.
Obviously, things are very different now. We are living in the age of the so-called digital native (although this may be a myth), but arguably because computers are so advanced now, we actually have fewer opportunities to tinker under the hood than we did in the early days of home computing. Early computers often required their users to manually input programs (written in languages like BASIC) before you could run them. You could buy magazines full of code for various simple games that you could type into your computer and then run. You could even change the code to alter the parameters of the game. This meant that we learned much more about how computers worked, and how to get them to do what we wanted, than is usually the case these days.
Modern computers are much less amenable to this sort of tinkering. Messing about with the code on your computer is likely to lead to a catastrophic system failure, so although computers are now embedded in almost every aspect of our lives, we often have very little idea about what makes them tick.
The ubiquity of computers in society, coupled with the general ignorance of most people as to how they work, has been recognised as a serious problem. Recently, there has been a strong push among educators to get kids coding. Code clubs have sprung up all over the place, digital technology is set to become part of the New Zealand curriculum, and lots of books have been published aimed at getting kids coding, with varying degrees of success.
Recently, my 9-year-old daughter and I read a series of three graphic novels called Secret Coders, which aim to teach coding through the medium of storytelling. These books centre around Hopper, a young girl who finds herself at a strange new school. Along with two new friends, Josh and Eni (many of the names in the book reference famous computers or computer scientists, such as Grace Hopper and ENIAC), Hopper falls into a series of adventures that require the gang to solve various puzzles to figure out what’s really going on at the school.
Many of these puzzles require them to program turtle-like robots to perform particular tasks. The puzzles get increasingly complex. As the reader is encouraged to solve these puzzles for themselves before reading on, almost without realising it, by the end of the first book we were writing programs in a computer language called Logo. There are also some owls living in the school who have a very unusual way of communicating in binary, which adds to the air of mystery. The story is genuinely captivating, and kept us turning the pages. The graphics are engaging, the characters are delightful, and the puzzles are intriguing.
At the end of each book there is a link to a website where you can download a version of the Logo programming language and use it to write your own programs to create computer graphics. We tried it, and within minutes we were making snowflakes and other images using what we had learned from the books. A world of warning though – computer code is very unforgiving and one small typing error can give unexpected results, or even stop a program from working at all, which can be frustrating for young children; nevertheless, the necessary concepts were well within the grasp of my 9-year-old daughter. There’s also a nice website with extra activities, and you can even download a file for 3D printing your own replica of one of the robots from the book.
We had a lot of fun with these books, and I think we learned a lot too. Each volume follows directly on from the previous one, in a continuous narrative, usually beginning with the answer to a puzzle that was set at the end of the last book. We’ve read the first three books, and it seems that there will be more in the series. There are still lots of loose threads to tie up in the story, and there is clearly a lot more to learn about coding. We’ve looked at a few other coding books aimed at kids, but these were the ones that captured our imaginations the most, and it’s not just about learning a particular programming language, but understanding computational thinking – how to break a problem down into its smallest discrete units, each of which can be translated into a simple instruction to a computer, which is a skill that is likely to be applicable to other areas of modern life.
We’re really looking forward to reading the rest of the series. This feel like the start of what could be a long journey to understanding more and more about computers and coding. We intend to keep learning about this stuff, and if we find other useful library resources along the way we will tell you about them in future posts on this blog.
For younger children, My First Coding Book makes a wonderful introduction to computational thinking, with ingeniously creative use of flaps, pull-out tabs, and other devices that kids will be familiar with, to illustrate coding concepts with various games and puzzles…
Lifelong learning is great for health, wellbeing and mental agility. Adult learners of all ages and backgrounds report benefits like better self-esteem, greater tolerance, confidence and career prospects.
Adult Learners’ Week/He Tangata Mātaurangaruns 4-10 September and celebrates all adult learning whether it’s upskilling for a better job, preparing for further study, improving life skills or having fun. It is supported by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO and incorporates International Literacy Day on September 8.
If you’ve ever been curious about our learning programmes for adults – sessions on learning how to use a new piece of technology, family history research, or polishing up your CV – Adult Learners’ Week is a great time to head along and try out what we have to offer.
ESOL Club, Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre – This club is for non-native speakers who would like to practice English in a relaxed, pressure free environment. Every week we will have a different themed topics to guide conversational practice.
Family History Help, Fendalton and Upper Riccarton Libraries – Looking for more help with your family history research? A volunteer from the New Zealand Society of Genealogists will be available to help you with your family history questions.
CV drop-in, New Brighton Library – A librarian will be on hand to assist customers who are needing help with their resume. We can offer guidance on creating, updating, and editing your CV.
Learner License Course, Aranui Library – This course, delivered by Literacy Christchurch, is designed to give you all the knowledge and confidence needed for best success at passing when sitting for your learners licence test. Laptops and devices will be available for use during the class times to sit practice tests and for researching questions.
How to organise and edit your digital photos, South Library – Learn how to organise your photographs and do some basic editing using online photo editing software. Please ensure that you bring your camera and USB download cables. Cost: $7. To make a booking please call 941 5140
Pop! Bang! That’s what happened – literally – when a group of New Zealand children’s authors and illustrators presented inspiring talks to hundreds of Canterbury school children, just ahead of the announcement of the 2017 winners of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Several of the nominated authors and illustrators toured the country speaking to school children about their work and craft. Hosted in conjunction with WORD Christchurch, they addressed primary and intermediate students who came from across Canterbury to hear them speak at St. Margaret’s College. They talked about what it takes to be a writer and/or illustrator and what keeps them inspired and shared their working processes, all with the aim of sparking readers and the next generation of writers and illustrators. We share some of the highlights here.
Session One: Tania Roxborogh, Leonie Agnew and David Elliot
“Any change for good is powered by fury and passion to make the world a better place” says Tania Roxborogh, and this idea is a driving force behind the story in her book about the Bastion Point occupation for Scholastic’s My New Zealand Story series, told from a child’s point of view.
Through the process of researching and writing this book, Roxborogh was reminded that: “Retelling history is never straightforward” because “people lie, self-edit, and mis-remember” and that “people remember different things.” She added that there is also the problem of bias in New Zealand media – from the right wing as well as the left wing – which she had to take into consideration when researching for this book.
When Roxborogh visited Bastion Point to help her find her point of view for the story, she found herself humbled, prompting her to ask: “What right do I even have to tell this story?” She realised, however, that regardless of who she was, the story of the protesters was a story worth telling.
Roxborogh teaches English and Drama at a Canterbury high school and has written over 50 books.
Snark – Being a true history of the expedition that discovered the Snark and the Jabberwock … and its tragic aftermath.
Elliot’s illustrated book was inspired by Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, and the Jabberwock and his presentation of museum-like artefacts and the stories he told about them would have had some in the audience wondering if his tale of the mission to discover the snark was true or not.
Elliot says he spent time living in a cottage inside Edinburgh Zoo and you have to wonder if this influenced his work illustrating weird and wonderous creatures.
For The Impossible Boy, Agnew asked: “What if a kid believes in something so much that his faith in it makes it real?” like Peter Pan’s belief in fairies, and on the flipside, “if you were an imaginary friend, what if you discovered you weren’t real?”
Agnew recommended using a little bit of non-fiction to make your fiction more real. In this case, she used the war-torn streets of Beirut in Lebanon as the inspiration for her setting of the story.
Various authors at the event talked about the hard parts of writing, when you feel like quitting or at least taking a break. Writing can take time! Agnew wrote 100 drafts of her book over 6 to 8 years. She says if you’re stuck, consider what Einstein said: You don’t solve a problem by looking at it in the same way, try looking at things from a new angle.
Agnew fits writing into her job as a primary school teacher by getting up at 5:30am to write before the school day starts. What inspired her to become a writer? Agnew “grew up in a house full of books” and her dad was a journalist who writes non-fiction, but really, she says, she “just wanted to do it.”
In the first session with Tania Roxborogh, Leonie Agnew and David Elliot I felt an overall theme of the elusive – of capturing the elusive writing spark, capturing the Snark, and elusive invisible friends. Another theme that came through for me was the theme of imagination: imagine if someone was trying to take your land, imagine wondrous creatures and lands, imagine how an imaginary friend would feel if they discovered they weren’t real. Imagine.
Session Two: Des Hunt, Jenny Cooper and Simon Pollard
Des Hunt has a love of adventure stories, science, New Zealand animals and he combines all of these into his stories. Sunken Forest was inspired by a real life summer camp he went on when he was 15 at Lake Waikaremoana, a trip that was memorable partly for sparking his interest in geology. The lake was formed during an earthquake landslide that drowned the forest. Standing tree trunks eerily remain there underwater today. Also trapped there are eels which can’t make their way back to sea to migrate to the Pacific islands to lay eggs. Unable to leave, they grow exponentially large.
In Sunken Forest, one such eel befriends Matt, who is sent to boot camp after his father, a boy racer, is sentenced to prison. At camp, Matt has to deal with bullies and getting the blame for things he didn’t do.
In his talk, Des Hunt totally engaged his audience from beginning to end, by which time he had them on the edge of their seats. He cleverly demonstrated the idea of building tension in a story by blowing up a balloon… about to burst at any moment. How do you really build tension in a story? He says: Add conflict and injustice, a disaster and… Pop!… an explosive climax.
While many of those who spoke at the event started writing or drawing as early as their primary school years, surprisingly Des only published his first fiction book when he was about 50 years old but has since written heaps of books. His passion for writing is now so strong that he can’t imagine doing anything else and he hopes to be an author until he dies. This is good news for my young son who was so inspired by Des Hunt’s presentation he immediately went and read Sunken Forest, despite never having independently read a chapter book without pictures in it before. Des certainly inspired him reader to take his reading engagement to a higher level.
It was fantastic to see instant booktalking success in action! Des tours schools doing writing workshops so see if your school can be added to his schedule.
She especially does a lot of research for illustrating the war stories, hiring models and WWI artefacts and taking hundreds of photos to draw from so she could get the details correct. The war stories she works on are “hard to illustrate because they are so sad” but equally she says, they are “really satisfying.” She added: “Sometimes the hardest and most challenging things you work on were the most rewarding.”
This was a sentiment shared by several of the speakers. Getting to a finished product takes times and many drafts! She tries 6 – 10 layouts before she has a rough drawing and after that, a finished painting may take up to 6 hours.
Pollard is a spider expert, lecturing as an adjunct professor at the University of Canterbury and he has been working with spiders for 30 to 40 years. He is interested in telling stories about what spiders get up to and recently worked with WETA Workshop on the impressive display of oversized bugs for the Bug Lab show at Te Papa Museum.
Pollard is an engaging speaker and really brings bugs to life. He told stories (complete with eek-inducing pictures) about the jewel wasp that immobilises and enslaves a cockroach so it can use it as a living nursery, laying its eggs in it to hatch. Ingenious, but gross. We also heard about the clever Japanese honey bees that kill their enemy, the Japanese hornet, by gathering together in a ball around one and quivering – the heat of their buzzing wings stops the wasp from secreting their signal for more wasps to attack them.
Then there’s the insect that looks like a spider, but isn’t, just to scare off predators. After learning all these fun facts, we were left marvelling at the magic of the natural world.
Primary and intermediate students from all over Christchurch lined up to ask lots of questions of the authors and illustrators after they spoke. Here are their inquisitive questions, and answers aimed at inspiring young readers, writers and artists.
What were some of your favourite books (growing up and now) and what writers would you recommend?
An integral part of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is the HELL Reading Challenge, now in its fourth year. It has been hugely successful in getting kids reading and enjoying the pleasure of stories (and pizza). Kids can pick up their reading challenge cards at Christchurch City Libraries (until December 2017).