How Can We Help Our Child With Learning Chinese?
By: Jason Lee, Royal Tots Academy Mandarin Teacher
Having trouble getting your child to learn Chinese? Here are some good ways to show you how you can inspire your child to learn Chinese more effectively and enjoyably.
To inculcate the love for learning Chinese, parents first have to maintain a positive attitude towards supporting your childs learning.
AppreciateEmotional Support and Building up Confidence
There is no doubt that to learn a second language is not an easy thing and for sure your child might be dismissed when he meets some obstacles in learning. At that moment, your timely encouragement and support is really needed. You can find a time to talk with your child sincerely. You may show your appreciation by encouraging and praising. When your child believes he is good at something, he will be proud to show you what he can do and in turn his self-esteem and confidence will be raised.
Bilingual StoryLiterature Environment
Children loves stories. We believe that a lot of you read stories to your children before they go to bed. It would be good if you read English and Mandarin stories every other day or one story in each language every day. If you are not a confident reader in Mandarin, sit with your child and listen to Chinese audio books while you follow the story in the book. We strongly suggest you to read the books with bilingual languages, which can help your child learn Chinese and English at one time.
Family Language Backgroundthe First Teacher For Learning Language
If it happens that your kids are in a multi-language background, it will be great chance for your kids to learn all the languages. But you should always know that One Person, One Code. What it means is one person should only speak one consistent language to your child. We have met many parents who are able to speak fluent Mandarin and they told us that they give up when their children continue to reply in English when they try to speak Mandarin with them. Oh, no please dont expect too much when you were doing this. It is quite normal response you would receive because they were in the stage of receiving information and they were not ready yet and not confident to express out. But, it did not mean your efforts were in vain. As parents, we must be patient and just do your best part to provide more language environment for your kids. One day, time will show you what rewards your efforts will deserve.
Care What They Are Learning
Show your curiosity in what your child were doing and learning at school. We can encourage them to share and explain by their own words by asking some simple questions. For example, do you know any animals in Mandarin? Or can you teach me anything you learned these days? Or you may say that mother also wants to learn some mandarin,would you like to help me?
Let your child know that you noticed how hard he or she is trying and how proud you are. By retelling and sharing, they will practice and review what they have gained from school lessons and your sincere caring attitude will positively drive them to learn more with an eager heart.
Use it or Lose it
What can you do to encourage Mandarin conversation at home? We need to create fun and exciting activities for children to join in and practice Mandarin. For example, children love light-hearted competitions and we can base activities on them.
Go to Where the Language Is Spoken
Language is always related to cultures. We can never learn a second language well without getting to their cultures. One of the best ways to boost language learning is to visit the country where it is spoken. Just two or three weeks of total immersion within a rich language environment has an amazing effect on language development!
What interests your child? What is he enthusiastic about? Whether its a love of animals, dance or sport, make an effort to support and encourage these passions using Mandarin. The language is part of our life and not just an assessed subject along with Mathematics or English.
Games and Play
Children love games. When they are enjoying a game, they chat happily and learn new words and sentences quickly.
Musicthe World Language
Singing is a great and fun way to engage in language learning. We believe that it is a natural way to learn language and just as importantly children love them too! You do not have to learn many songs, you can learn a few tunes and change the words to ones that the children are learning. Here, I want to share my story with you.
During last several years in Royal Tots Academy, I also tried a lot of efforts to teach children Mandarin by learning songs. Definitely, children loved it. But we also found some problems that the most of the Mandarin children songs were still too hard for our children to sing as those songs are for native speakers. Obviously, the lyrics were too informative as they were made of long and complicate sentences, and the rhythm sometimes was too fast to follow as well. Hence it is quite important to find a proper song for your kids to learn by singing.
In order to solve this problem better, I came up with the bold idea to create our own Mandarin songs for our kids. Here, I have to clarify that I am not a musician and have no gift of learning music, the only thing I think I have is the love of music and songs. The good thing is I learned a little bit of guitar through books and by watching some online videos sometimes. That is it, so it is indeed a challenge for me to write some songs. For me, I think it is just for fun to express my inner feelings through songs.
This term, I started to create some songs into which I attempted to integrate our IEYC unit of learning, Mini-beasts. I was so happy that children enjoyed the song and learned so fast. By learning this song, they quickly remembered some insect names and practiced some sentence patterns. Thus, the pleasant learning outcomes encourage me to create more Mandarin songs for my kids, the very young Chinese learners.
So have fun trying the above strategies with your child and most importantly enjoy the process with them.
Adapted from: How can I get my child to love chinese? by Huang Ying, Head of Chengzhu Mandarin Center and Iris Lim, Principal of Children House Preschool