Online Cantonese Circle Time

Updated: Aug 1

Update (May 15): You need another form submission in order to join the circle time. To maximize kids' participation, I am closing applications for all circle groups for the moment. If you are interested, please check our newsletter for future openings!


If you have read my last blog post, you know my heart goes out to all children who are staying home during the pandemic. As a Cantonese speaker/teacher, I have also been thinking about children whose families do not speak the language but are out of their Cantonese immersion now (I know how hard it is to learn Cantonese without the environment). During this unprecedented time, I am deeply thankful for my daughter's teacher, who organizes circle time for their class so that the kids can meet their friends and have some social life. These are the reasons why I decided to start online Cantonese circle time (aged 1.5-5), especially for children/families who are learning Cantonese.


To my surprise, I have received more responses than I expected, so I am using my website. Each group has its own group page, which includes safety measures, meeting details and other resources.



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Rationale Behind These Temporary Groups


  1. Welcome Song: The welcome song is an invitation and also an important routine to direct children's attention to the group. A welcome song can help build community too. Since we may not have a fixed group of students or some common goals for the group, I have chosen a more "general" song—just to say "Welcome". (Edited 5/15/20: Now, you may have noticed we are singing "The More We Get Together" too!)

  2. Show and Tell: This is what I consider the most important part of our circle time. While kids are not able to meet other people as usual, I hope that they can meet friends and express themselves at our circle time. As young children at this age express and listen better with an object in hand, I have always asked them to find something to show us. It is also fun to do mini scavenger hunts at home!

  3. Songs: We sing with simple hand movements. Young children like finger plays or actions. The movements also help them understand and remember the words better. The songs are on this Spotify playlist.

  4. Stories: As we are meeting only once a week, I am trying to tell different kinds of stories instead of using themes—to prevent boring or upsetting kids when they dislike a certain thing/animal. My goals are to help them fall in love with Cantonese storytelling and expose them to more vocabulary. I will always include at least one humorous story, because we all need humor! When I tell these stories, I let the flow of the story go without elaborating much. I am trying to provide a text appreciation experience for your kids (see "Not All Readings Are Created Equal" for details). Do you enjoy our story time?



How to Make Use of the Circle Time Materials


  1. Show up: According to second language acquisition theories, interaction (not input) is key for language learning. Not only can children practice speaking in Cantonese during group time, it is also a good time for them to listen to Cantonese and know that it is a real language in use—Yes, it makes a huge impact on their learning!

  2. Review the stories: The storytelling part is recorded at each meeting. Feel free to listen to the stories again during the week for consolidation. If you speak or are learning to Cantonese, you can mute the video and tell the stories to your kids yourself. Most picture books contain some repetition of phrases or vocabulary already; this makes the language learning even more effective. You will find all recordings here (Cantonese Storytelling Videos) [membership required, but just sign up if you are interested—it's free!].

  3. More exposure with Cantonese songs: Music is key to children's language learning—in fact, from my teaching experience, music helps language learners of all ages. Even if your kids do not speak the language, it is good for them to know what sounds (consonants and vowels) are in the language and what are not. If your kids know the language, they will learn more vocabulary—fast! Here is the Spotify playlist of the songs we sing in Circle Time. We try to sing one or two songs in our group time, allowing your kids to practice the language more and feel good about knowing the language!


Thank you all for your interest! I hope you enjoy our Circle Time and like the tips above! Stay safe and healthy, everyone!



Update (May 15): You need another form submission in order to join the circle time. To maximize kids' participation, I am closing applications for all circle groups for the moment. If you are interested, please check our newsletter for future openings!


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