If you are working with Sagebooks 基礎漢字500 (basic 500 characters), here are a list free resources on the internet that you might find useful. After all you have invested in the sagebooks, it is best to maximise your returns.
Cantonese Wordlists with Jyutping
[Free Printable ] If you are using Sagebooks to teach reading in Cantonese, these wordlists of the 500 characters with Jyutping might be useful for you. Head over here to download the 5 wordlists (one for each set). You can use them in conjunction with audio below. Available in Traditional Chinese only.
Official FREE Sagebook Resources
These resources are shared by Sagebooks on their official website
Mandarin and, recently as of November 2019, Cantonese recordings are available on the website. You would have to register an account each to access them (please note that you need to register two separate accounts if you wish to assess both Cantonese and Mandarin, and you have to be careful to select the right membership):
Tip: If you wish to download the MP3s for offline listening, right-click page source and find the MP3 files. There is one MP3 per language per book, ie.25 files for Cantonese and 25 files for Mandarin).
In response to schools closure due to COVID-19, or perhaps the timing is coincidental, Sagebooks has been developing an publishing a new FREE series of 12 lessons that can be used regardless of whether you are homeschooling or not. Most of the blogposts are in Chinese, but the worksheets are often self explanatory. Available in both Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.
I have not tried out this app, as it is only available on the iphone App store, but it is promoted as “Download once and you can playback offline,. Anytime. Anywhere.” Which sounds cool. Follow the instructions to download and use.
Update: The app is not working at the moment. Best to use the MP3s on the website. (See #1)
Sagebooks offers lots of articles and resources on their blog. For instance, they had an advent calendar (which required email sign-up) in December, Chinese New Year games, a comparison of Traditional and Simplified characters used in the books and lots of other free resources available in different parts of the website: here and here and here. To be honest, I am quite confused by the website, as I seem to be going into a maze (and they have had several updates which makes me even more confused) , and I never know where I end up, but there is certainly lots of good resources there. so just keep surfing. They also have an English Facebook Support group, and a Chinese Facebook support group, if you wish to join. Available in both Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.
Other Free Resources
1. Picture Flashcards by Joy Chinese School Joy中文學校
Most colourful free flashcards I have seen. Pictures go on one side, and the Chinese characters (choice of with and without zhuyin) go onto the other side. There are three PDFs documents to download – first is characters with zhuyin (Mandarin pronunciation guide), second is the pictures, third is character without zhuyin. She has just published the flashcards for Set 1 (5 books) . Follow her Facebook page for future sets.
I have been asked about the simplified version. It is available here .
These are so gorgeous, and definitely designed with love as proclaimed on the page.
The character tracing worksheets are designed with larger characters intended for preschoolers. Mama Baby Mandarin recommends to start with tracing or coloring the outlined characters, then use blank boxes for writing practice. The character search worksheets are designed to help your child visualize the Chinese character in order to find them among the other images. Available in Traditional Chinese and (some in) Simplified Chinese
This blogpost list a few resources . Of these, the Hundred Board (Item # 1) and Character Writing Practice Booklets (Item #7) are available for free download. If you use Anki, Skritter and/ or, please check out Item #4, #5 and #6. Would also recommend reading #3 Chutes and Ladder Games although there are no printables, and she has closed her Etsy store.
Five “hundred boards’ in one PDF file available, one for each set of 5 books (100 characters each). One page per board. A hundred board is very versatile and lots of ideas available on google. Also, heteronym reference sheets with zhuyin and pinyin.
To download, scroll down to Reference sheet in the blogpost. Available in Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.
5 sets of character writing practice booklets in pdf format available for download. Each set has 20 pages of 5 characters each. It shows the stroke order and also has a space for you to practice each word. Available in Traditional Chinese only.
Chalk Academy writes a comprehensive review about the Sagebooks, and shares the flashcards and worksheets she has created. They are located at #8 and #9 further down the blogpost. The flashcards are in a downloadable PDF of 100 pages, and the worksheets are in a downloadable PDF of 168 pages. Available in both Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.
Lots of fun worksheets developed by Aime, a Taiwanese-American mother, for her children, as they go through the Sagebooks. At the time of this post, worksheets for Set 1 and Set 2 are available on their blog. Available in Traditional Chinese only.
These are basic flashcards (characters only) in Simplified Chinese (no Traditional Chinese). Colour coded, 6 characters per sheet.
If you are not using the Sagebooks, but would like more information, the official Sagebooks Page provides lots of information, including videos, games, parents’ testimonies.
1. Reviews of Sagebooks on the Internet
Here are a few that I could find, though I have only found those teaching in Mandarin, and not Cantonese. If you see any, please let me know.
- Review by Mandarin Mama
- Review by Alex Pang
- Analysis of character choices by Guavarama
- Review by Chalk Academy
- Review by kekemandarin
- Review by Mama Baby Mandarin
- Introduction (with many pictures) in Cantonese
- Comparison vs 四五快读(45 Quick Read) by Hands On Chinese Fun (simplified Chinese)
In general, many who are using it seem to find it effective in teaching character recognition, via the character introduction and repetition. Please evaluate for yourself if these books suit your child. While many who are using it seem to love it, I have seen comments of people who really dislike it. The major complaints being that the stories are not enticing, and the illustrations are not appealing.
(My two-seconds review, since this is not meant to be a review blogpost- I do agree with the complaints – It is not interesting, and I find the illustrations really weird. But the books are working for us. We had a rough initial phase, especially since my kid is learning to speak Cantonese at the same time. But she (or we) no longer minds the illustrations, and she gets a sense of accomplishment from the character recognition, and doesn’t mind the lessons. It is no longer (such a) torture for either of us. To note a downside to her using Sagebooks when not being fluent, is that she mixes Colloquial Cantonese and Formal Cantonese. Mandarin speakers would not have this issue. We are still figuring out next steps.)
2. How some parents use the Sagebooks
In the reviews above, many bloggers also share how they use the books. Here are more blogposts that I have round up:
- Using it as a native family by Motherly Notes
- How a Cantonese family ensured her kids had a perfect Mandarin accent
- Guavarama’s list of Sagebook posts
- Chinese mama of 3 shares her methods (article in Chinese)
- 我如何使用基礎漢字500 by Anchia Tai
You can also find many parents’ testimonials and tips on the official Sagebooks site.
How about you?
Are you using the Sagebooks? What do you think about them? If you know of any other free resources that I can include here, please let me know.
You might also enjoy reading:
- Reading in Cantonese to Your Child – Storytelling (口語) or Story Reading (書面語)?
- Our collection of Cantonese nursery Rhyme and Songs (Each come with a free lyrics printable. )
- Free Online Chinese Textbooks and Course Materials
- How To Read To Your Child When Your Cantonese Is Not Fluent
- Colloquial Cantonese Kid’s Educational Resources and Printables
- Free Leveled Readers with Colloquial and Formal Cantonese Audio