giveaways reviews ads, interviews

Learn Chinese with Petrina Kow

You guys remember Petrina Kow, former DJ from Class 95 and 91.3? She left the morning show with Joe Augustin a couple of years back to stay home with her 2 kids and she’s now a full-time hands on mommy. These days, she’s also helping kids learn Mandarin with her series of Chinese books, but more on that later.

I recently had a chance to sit down with her over brunch at East Coast’s Carl’s Junior to talk secret mommy stuff.

I originally wanted to do a podcast, seeing how I used to love listening to her on the radio every morning so it would be like I’m hosting my own talk show with a proper DJ. Except that Carl’s Junior is a terrible place to have an interview and we had to TALK REALLY LOUDLY to drown out all that crazy ambient noise.

So instead, you’ll have to simulate your own audio as you read because I shan’t maul your ears with the recording.


Ok, let’s go easy. How about telling us a bit about yourself.

My name is Petrina, mother of 2 children, aged 8 and 4. I used to be a radio DJ on Class 95 as well as 91.3FM. In the last 5-6 years I have been helping my husband out in his animation business, to do the casting of the animation videos as well as act in them.

Has it been worth it leaving a job as a fulltime DJ to be a stay home mom?


Ooh, this is a hard one! And more so recently because Joe (Augustin) and I have been discussing a lot lately about coming back again. I do almost feel like, I might have made a wrong move leaving so early. Yet everyday, when I see how i get to be with my kids a little more, I know it was the right decision.

I’m glad to be with them at this stage at their life because as much as it may not sit so deeply into their memory who changed their diapers, feeds them, its important for bonding. It wasn’t so much I couldn’t do these before but I was just too tired – the quality gets compromised! (Laughs)

When they get really unmanageable, do you have the urge to yell “Mommy is a famous DJ, I really shouldn’t have to put up with this”?

Oh no, they do not give two hoots about that! The kids do follow me around on my voiceovers and all that, but the highlight for them is eating candy in the studios. It’s never a glamourous thing, I basically hide myself in a corner and speak into a microphone.

When I was doing the morning show my daughter hears me on radio, but her main concern was always, “Why isn’t mommy having breakfast with me?

We’re curious to know, as a celebrity, do you put on makeup wherever you leave the house? Like even to the market.

Haha, for my friends who know me, they are constantly chiding me that I’m such a useless “celebrity”, if you can even call me that! I do try to dress comfortably and suitably for the occasion but it’s not that important to me.

I don’t think I’m so famous that people will stop me in the streets and go all starstruck. I can pretty much get around my day unrecognized.

Have your kids had an epic meltdown in public before, and how did you deal with it?

My son has never had a massive meltdown. He only does the uncontrollable crying thing when he gets woken up or is having a nightmare.

On the other hand, my daughter has the most epic meltdowns. Never in public because to others she is such a wonderful, angelic, 懂事 (Mandarin for mature) kind of girl, but I’ll put this down on record – last year, at age 7, she ran out of the house. 离家出走, as it were. She got so angry that she did this massive high-pitched scream and just left!

I’m so glad it’s not happening anymore now and I’m able to get a handle on the two of them, they’re honestly such great kids.I don’t believe in the smack them in public philosophy and I’ve also learned especially with my daughter that I cannot add fuel to the fire.

You’re presently doing this Learn Chinese Books series. How did that happen?

I’m very ang moh pai (Hokkien for English-speaking) so Chinese was a struggle all my life until I decided to marry a Taiwanese husband. So he and his whole family are very pro-learning Mandarin but I was like “ok la if cannot learn never mind, not important right?”

But through the years, I started communicating more with my mother-in-law and as my Mandarin improved, I realized what a world it opened up for me.

My 2 kids have been quite bilingual since young because of the exposure to Grandma. The thing is, I read to them a fair bit, but when I tried to find Chinese books, they were either too hard to read – because I cannot read them, haha – or they just weren’t interesting books.

We thought, why don’t we turn Taoshu into a series of Learn Chinese Books? So the books are now available at Kinokuniya, online and selected Chinese book stores.

How old are these books suitable for?

We say ranging for 3-8, but it really depends on the level of their Chinese. We encourage parents to start reading to them at about 3.

Some readers on the blog are considering leaving their jobs to be a stay home mom, but they’re not sure if they should take the plunge. What sort of advice do you have for them?

I know women who are so clear on what they want, that even though they are the most dedicated and loving moms, they will never give up their job simply because they need to have that intellectual stimulation.

But I also know women who feel like no job in the world is as important as the role I play as a mother.

I’m just lucky enough to have a job where I can duck in and out and earn a semi-decent living without spending long hours away from the kids. It gives me the flexibility and time to decide where I want to be at what point.

So I guess I would say, follow your heart. Your kids are only young once. Whatever moments you have with them, make it count.


I’ve been wanting to step up the Mandarin education with my kids but my search for Chinese books have been equally frustrating. It was way too embarrassing to attempt to read a book filled with words I couldn’t identify. The kids were all like “mommy, what’s up with the dramatic pauses, get on with the story already…” so I just gave up and stuck to English books instead.

The past week, I’ve been on an intensive Chinese-reading program where I read them only Chinese books. At first Tru was like “what are you saying? I don’t like this” but then he got sold on the amazing artwork and started listing all the animals in English. Now, they’re able to identify animals in Mandarin and this momma is so proud. Also, I’m able to read an entire Chinese book for once so it’s like I’m totally kicking ass at Mandarin, which is a great success.

And now as a reward for getting through this long post, Petrina is giving away one set of her Learn Chinese Books to one reader. Head on here to pick one, they’re catered for different ages, so just leave a comment below on which set you’d like. Contest ends this Sunday 5 June and one reader will be selected randomly.

Learning Mandarin for the win!

Updated: Congrats to Pearlyn (comment #3), winner of the contest! I’ll be sending you an email shortly to arrange for delivery.

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Jo Peck May 30, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    would love to win Vol 2 Taoshu Learn Chinese Books. Got two kids who would find them rather fun me thinks :P

  • Reply Rose May 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    hi daphne, love your blog!

    I’ll go for vol 4: Intelligence :)

  • Reply Pearlyn May 30, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I want ALL!! Crossing my fingers and toes too for a lucky win!

  • Reply Nicole May 30, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Vol. 1 for this fellow “ang moh pai” momma please!

  • Reply Elynn May 30, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    I’ll go for vol. 1, my son is getting sick of his current flashcards, hope i’ll win :)

  • Reply Cecilia May 30, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Hi dear

    Will choose volume 2! Good luck to all!


  • Reply Susan May 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    What a great give away. I’m always on the lookout for “manageable” chinese resources as I prepare to teach Sophie chinese.

    My choice vol 2 on character building *fingers crossed*
    Susan´s last post ..The IMAX experience at Lido

  • Reply Vivien May 30, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Hi, I would love to win Vol 4 please! It’s so hard to find good chinese books!

  • Reply Jus May 30, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Thanks for the great interview and for introducing these books! Been on the hunt for good Chinese books since I too, struggle with reading in Mandarin to the little boy… Would love Vol 3… :)
    Jus´s last post ..Weekend wanderings- Weekends are great for and a winner!

  • Reply Trecia May 31, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Thanks for the great intro. Didn’t know about this amazing series.. Would love to hv volume 1… ;)

  • Reply Corsage @ A Dollop Of Me May 31, 2011 at 12:22 am

    This is so timely! I’ve unsuccessfully been trying to find suitable Chinese books. Somehow the illustrations in most don’t interest Bubbles. Thanks for sharing about this series. I hope to win Vol 1!

  • Reply Cherie May 31, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Wow! Great interview…the resources look great too. Would really love vol 2 of the books. :)

  • Reply Amanda May 31, 2011 at 1:10 am

    I have all the books produced by them. They are ALL good. My daughter loves them all. She is 4. We are an English speaking family and she knows it. She refuses to speak to me in Mandarin but really really loves Taoshu and Lingling and Jinhan.

  • Reply Madeline May 31, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Vol 1 for me thanks :)
    Madeline´s last post ..My Little Swimming Champ!

  • Reply linda lim May 31, 2011 at 1:24 am

    my kids love taoshu. vol 1, pse. tks much

  • Reply Shino May 31, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Would love to start with Vol 1. and proceed to buy the other 3 Vols!
    =D It looks like a fun educational book for the little one!

  • Reply olimomok May 31, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Ooh, I had no idea Taoshu was by Petrina and hub! The illustrations look great. Would love to try out Vol 1 with my son. Thanks!

  • Reply Cakemania May 31, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Hi daphne, thanks for sharing.
    Would luv to have vol 1.

  • Reply Gina May 31, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Vol 1 for bb ethan thanks :)

  • Reply Eugenia May 31, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I’ve been looking out for suitable chinese books for my 20 mth toddler and I really like these. Very nice illustrations. Would like to have Vol. 1. =)
    Eugenia´s last post ..TWD- French Pear Tart- My First Successful Attempt!

  • Reply yuling May 31, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Coincidentally, I was just reading some random mag at Starbucks over the weekend and saw an interview with Petrina as well! Thanks for the giveaway, would love to win Vol 1! :)

    • Reply Daphne May 31, 2011 at 9:57 pm

      Oh ya, I think it was Young Parents, I saw it too!

  • Reply rachel May 31, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    vol 3 pls.

  • Reply Jillian May 31, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Hi, would love vol 1 for my chin-dian kids :)
    Jillian´s last post ..Now More Than Ever- Just Write

  • Reply Julyclover May 31, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    My 3yo son n I love these books. I borrowed from the library whenever I find them coz the books are always on loan.

    Kudos to Petrina n team!

    Volume 1 for us pls.

  • Reply Ing May 31, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Ok, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to the library in search of good Chinese books but ended up borrowing all English ones. I’ve given up trying to look for good Chinese books from our local libraries. Will be great to win vol. 1 but even if not, I’ll be checking this series out. Tks for sharing!

    Enjoyed reading the interview too. What she said about following your heart to be a sahm is greatly encouraging to me at this point. :)
    Btw, I think I saw u last sat at JW nursery. :)

    • Reply Daphne May 31, 2011 at 9:59 pm

      Yes we were there for the 3.30 last sat… didn’t see you around. Do say hi would love to meet your kids too

  • Reply Ellen May 31, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Do you ship to America? Heh. I’ve been looking for Chinese materials for my son as well. But Chinese obviously is not a priority in American libraries. The best we’ve got are a couple of Mandy and Pandy books (which Ethan loves) but not really centered on learning Chinese. Would love to check out this series… so would love to win Volume 1!
    Ellen´s last post ..Partying at White Post Farms

    • Reply Daphne May 31, 2011 at 10:01 pm

      Hey Ellen, if u do win, I’ll sponsor the shipping to America myself :) Thanks for joining the contest!

  • Reply Angie May 31, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Will love to any set, I have 3 gals who does not speak much chinese, But they love stories, I am sure they will enjoy these books.

  • Reply Klessis May 31, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I’d love to have a set of ‘Friendship & Kindness’! =D

    I love Chinese personally!
    Klessis´s last post ..Singapore Arts Festival 2011- A Digital Lifestyle

  • Reply San May 31, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Chinese books. *gulp!* I know I probably should … So I promise if I do get this, I’ll diligently read the books to the kiddos! Haha…

    My choice… Start with Vol 1 – Lifestyle. :)
    San´s last post ..A day to see a waterfall

  • Reply Jessie May 31, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Hi Daphne, i love reading your blog. Share the same sentiments when i am teaching my two girls Chinese too. Would love to have the last volume (volume 3). Thanks for this.

  • Reply jacqueline yeo June 1, 2011 at 12:10 am

    My kids love Taushu… but 1 question – how do I prevent them for skipping all the way to the back to read the English version?
    I have Vol 3, so probably Vol 4 next?

    • Reply Daphne June 1, 2011 at 12:14 am

      Haha smart kids. You can try ripping out the English pages or sticking them shut. The english version is less fun to read anyway because there’s no illustrations there and they would have to flip back and forth to see the pictures..

  • Reply sam June 1, 2011 at 1:15 am

    I want Vol.4!!!!!!!!!!! Because we already have Vol.1-3, and have the full set of SHAPES already. My 2year old LOVES them! Who says you should read those to them only from 3 years old? Start from 6months!
    sam´s last post ..Exploring the Ivories

  • Reply Ruth June 1, 2011 at 1:44 am

    Hi Daphne, enjoyed reading the interview with Petrina and thanks for sharing about Taoshu! It’s really not easy to find good Chinese books. It would be lovely to win a set for my boy and my choice is Vol. 1 :)

    (btw, great meeting you today! Your girl is really so adorable!!!)
    Ruth´s last post ..No Fuss- No Tears!

  • Reply Shirin June 1, 2011 at 1:46 am

    Living in New York and married to an “And Moh”, I want my daughter to learn Mandarin. It is hard to find good Chinese books here. Often, I get my family to mail Chinese books to me.

    My choice is Vol 1.

  • Reply qiu xian June 1, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Hi Daphne,

    your posts are always a delight to read! I pick Shapes Chinese Books Volume 1 – Friendship and Kindness

  • Reply Mico June 1, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Daphne,

    I would love vol 2 -character building. Thanks.

  • Reply Christina June 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Daphne,

    Vol 4 will be great! Thanks.

  • Reply Ade June 2, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Hi Daphne, would love to have Taoshu Learns Chinese Volume 1-Lifestyle for my 2 kids! Thank you!

  • Reply Renelik June 2, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I wld love to have a set of Vol 2! Have borrowed Taoshu books from the library and my sons like them.

  • Reply Yen June 2, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Volume 2 please!!! :) thanks daphne!
    Yen´s last post ..Under the weather

  • Reply Josy June 2, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Hi Daphne,
    I would love to have a set of vol 2 to start my child to learn Chinese as she isn’t keen on Chinese story books. Hope to encourage her to see more Chinese books. Thanks :)

  • Reply Amy June 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Hi. I would like to request for a set of vol 3. Thank you.

  • Reply janeeeee June 2, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    I would love to own set 1!

  • Reply Mel June 2, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    My 2 cheeky monkeys would love vol 1 :)

  • Reply Pat Pat June 2, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    I’ll love to have Vol 1.
    Pat Pat´s last post ..Awfully Awesome Chocolate Cake

  • Reply Daphne June 5, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Vol 3. for me, please…I have been speaking lousy Mandarin to Baby D. Figured that I need help first.

  • Reply Adora June 27, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Hey Daphne, I’m glad I saw this post. My mandarin is also horrible and I am so going to get myself a set!

  • Reply Singlish – yay or nay? November 22, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    […] top of that, we (try to) teach Mandarin and several Dialect phrases. The husband is responsible for teaching Hokkien (so Tru can survive […]

  • Reply By far the best rendition of the Macarena ever — MOTHER, INC. December 5, 2011 at 11:02 am

    […] another note, the awesome TaoShu iPad app is out and you can download it here. The kids really love TaoShu – till this day, it’s the only Chinese books they will allow me to […]

  • Reply Learn Digital Marketing September 28, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    Amazing blog and very interesting stuff you got here! I definitely learned a lot from reading through some of your earlier posts as well and decided to drop a comment on this one!

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge