You don’t have to be a pro to be able to help your child appreciate Chinese.
So how can you make learning Chinese less of a chore and more of a joy for your child AND yourself?
That’s a common question parents in Singapore have, where English has overtaken Chinese as the most-used language at home, increasing from 32% of the population in 2010 to 47% in 2020.
The way to tackle this issue is with the right mindset and approach.
Here are 4 simple ways to achieve this.
1. Turn Learning Into A Fun Activity
There’ll be plenty of textbooks and rote memorisation once your child enters primary school. So, for now, why not take the “boring” out of learning and make it fun instead?
Let them read Chinese comics, watch Chinese cartoons, learn to sing Chinese songs, or try their hand at Chinese calligraphy. Pick up a Chinese book to read before bedtime or play an audiobook. If they like watching videos on your iPad, turn that into a learning opportunity with educational Chinese YouTube channels for children. For more ideas, check out these tips to make learning Chinese fun for preschoolers!
2. Immerse Them In A Chinese-Speaking Environment
There’s a famous Chinese proverb that goes, “It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books” (读万卷书不如行万里路). That means that learning from practical experiences can be just as, if not more important than book knowledge.
Turn one day every week into a special “Speak Chinese Day” where you only chat in Chinese with each other. If travelling is an option, go on family vacations during school holidays to a Chinese-speaking country and encourage your child to communicate with the locals. By hearing and practising the language in real-life situations, it can help build their confidence.
3. Share About Chinese Culture
There’s so much more to a language than just strokes on a page. The Chinese language has a rich history and culture, with fascinating legends that can go toe-to-toe with any of your children’s fantasy storybooks.
Open their eyes to Chinese folklore and share stories behind Chinese proverbs, idioms and festivals. For example, we all know that the Mid-Autumn Festival is about mooncakes and lanterns. But how many of us know that its origins involve an archer shooting down nine suns, and his wife drinking an elixir of life to become the Moon Goddess?
No matter where you look, there are myths and tales that are sure to capture your child’s attention and foster their appreciation for the language.
4. Start Young
Ever heard of the critical period hypothesis? It’s a linguistic theory that claims once children are past a certain age (usually around puberty — 12-13 years old), it becomes more difficult to fully learn a language. Children are masters at language learning, absorbing new words faster than we could ever hope to as adults.
However, once children find a subject too challenging or overwhelming in school, it’s common for them to lose motivation in learning it. By tapping on the critical period and developing a strong foundation while they’re young, you can nurture your child’s confidence and interest in Chinese! The more comfortable they are with the language, the less they’ll dread Chinese lessons. One way to get started is to enrol them in Chinese preschools and enrichment classes for toddlers.
Nurture Your Child’s Love for Chinese with MindChamps
At MindChamps Chinese PreSchool, we spark a deep love for Chinese in children through our research-backed curriculum and immersive learning environment. Champs from all levels can learn and experience rich Chinese heritage through hands-on activities like clay modelling and Chinese painting. Hear from parents of Champs themselves:
“Thanks to the strong Mandarin immersion environment, Alexander has been spouting more Mandarin at home and happily sings the songs (English and Mandarin) that were taught in school. I think the school is integral in cultivating this love for both languages, something that is extremely invaluable in any child’s early learning journey,” shared the parents of Alexander Fong.
Our modules are designed to be effectively bilingual to equip your child with a strong foundation and the confidence to express themselves both at home and in school. Give your Champ a head start in learning and appreciating the Chinese language with MindChamps!