How Learning Mother Tongue Teaches Children About Their Cultural Heritage

November 1, 2019

Over the past decades, the linguistic landscape of Singapore has made a significant shift to encourage Singaporeans to speak, and write, better English in light of globalisation and the expansion of business ties abroad. With a steady increase of families speaking mainly English at home comes a decline in the number of families who engage their children in their mother tongue.

Singapore’s education system requires children to learn dual languages so that they can still be in touch with their cultural heritage based on their family background. Thus, despite the rise in the use of English, parents should encourage their children to communicate in their mother tongue so they do not forget their heritage.

Furthermore, research has shown that children engaged in multilingualism at a young age develop better cognitively.

In what ways can learning the mother tongue benefit children?

The importance of Mandarin for toddlers

Mother tongue is the tool with which our ancestral knowledge has been passed down from one generation to another. For example, the Chinese values that have been inculcated among the Chinese people in Singapore have been done through Mandarin.

The use of Mandarin helps to keep the stories authentic as children get to learn proverbs and idioms in its original form. When you encourage your children to use your mother tongue, you are helping your children to recognise their identity. This recognition can come in handy when your children leave Singapore to work abroad. It keeps them grounded to their roots.

In a Chinese immersion preschool such as MindChamps Chinese PreSchool, children are empowered to use Mandarin in every facet of daily life, which is the best way to pick up a new language. Infusing Mandarin into its one-of-a-kind curriculum, MindChamps Chinese PreSchool helps young children cultivate a love of speaking Chinese.

Read also: “Should I enrol my toddler in a Mandarin playgroup or a Chinese Preschool?”

Learning about the Chinese culture and heritage

What are some cultural benefits of having toddlers learn about their heritage through Mandarin? They get to pick up the traditions that you treasure and have grown up with.

Take Lunar New Year for example. There is a variety of preparation work that happens to the lead up of this special festival. Spring cleaning, new bedsheets and clothes, reunion dinner, decorating the house in red, just to name a few – but do your children know the reasons behind these practices?

During the Mid-Autumn festival, toddlers get to enjoy holding lanterns and eating mooncakes. However, in order to understand the importance of the lanterns and the mooncakes, they must first understand the story of Chang’e.

By retelling these legends in its original language, you are preserving their cultural origins which lend authenticity to your toddlers’ understanding of the festivals. Bringing light to the reasons we celebrate these festivals will also root in them a deep appreciation for why we do what we do.

To this end, our Chinese immersion preschools have a Chinese Culture Appreciation programme, which helps them gain an insight into our rich history, as well as enjoy hands-on activities such as clay modelling, Chinese painting and calligraphy.

Read also: Raising Bilingual Kids: Reasons to Encourage and Inculcate the Use of Mother Tongue

How a Mandarin playgroup can help your children

Early exposure to Mandarin helps your toddlers to better appreciate the language. It also allows your toddlers to have a better grasp of the complexities and intricacies of the nuances found in Mandarin.

The MindChamps Chinese PreSchool curriculum is specifically designed to engage toddlers in Mandarin. With interesting lessons based around music, sensory activities and emotional-social aspects for toddlers, you can be assured that your toddlers will be in good hands.

Written by Danielle Hee


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