Part 5 – A system

How has your 5-minute Chinese reading been?

It’s amazing whenever I use 5 minutes to start a new routine.

When I tell myself it’s only 5 minutes, any inertia disappears.

When I reach 5 minutes, I get a sense of accomplishment.

Often, my child and I have a great time and we naturally extend the activity for longer.

Any extra minute is a bonus!

When your child shows interest in short Chinese conversations or stories, you may start levelling up.

In 2006, the Chinese government revealed that learners can cover 80% of common communication by mastering the first 581 characters.

By mastering more than 900 characters (汉字 hàn zì) and more than 10,000 words (词语 cí yǔ), one can read about 90% of common publications.

With 2315 characters, one can read 99% of common publications!

At first glance, 2315 characters seems like lot.

In fact, this is surprisingly achievable.

All you need is:

A system

Prolonged school closure for many months during the Covid-19 pandemic pushed me to start teaching my children to read systematically.

My youngest son, El, was homeschooled before entering Primary 1 and recognised less than 100 Chinese characters as it wasn’t his sensitive period yet.

I was prepared to immerse him at a Chinese school like his elder brothers, which was a sure-fire way to help him pick up the language within a few months.

But BAM!

Covid hit and he was stuck in online classes with minimal interactions.

Reading few words + every subject in Chinese = recipe for disaster!

So Mummy’s homeschool started running again.

Within one year of systematic reading, El recognised more than 700 characters at Primary 2.

This enabled him to read simple chapter books.

During the same period of time, my middle son, Jae, read 1200 characters at Primary 3 and more than 2000 characters at Primary 4.

By reaching this stage, he was able to read at 95% to 100% of upper primary Chinese passages, which include historical stories. 

Indeed, every drop makes an ocean.

At first, I taught each child 1 character a day.

Then 2 a day.

Then 3 a day.

As we got into a routine and as the child’s memory becomes stronger with practice, we finally got to 10 characters a day.

5 to 15 minutes systematically a day is all it takes.

Chat again!

~ Carol @

Quick review:

  1. Why
  2. Obstacle
  3. Speak
  4. Read
  5. System


In my quest for the most effective Chinese reading programme, I bought and tried 3 different sets.

Odonata (红蜻蜓) is the one that I use for my 3 children and highly recommend.

I’ve done a full comparison between the pre-2020 and new editions.

Both editions are available at Owlissimo now.

It’s amazing how these sets have been flying off the shelves even before I launched them.

You can get them delivered to Singapore, Malaysia or internationally.

Check this comparison article out:

>>> Odonata Books Differences: Pre-2020 vs New Editions

Scroll to Top