Learning how to teach Chinese to children can be a challenging task, especially if the child is growing up in an English speaking environment. However, mastering Chinese is not only critical in scoring well for PSLE, but can a major asset to the child’s career with the rise of China. In this article, we will give parents some learning tips that you can use to teach Chinese to your kids.
Tip 1: Learn Chinese character first to establish a solid foundation.
Although primary schools will start first teach Chinese using Hanyu Pinyin, we are of the opinion that this is not the best approach. In Chinese, we know that there are many similar sounding words, which can cause confusion among children who are trying to learn. Learning Chinese has to start at Chinese characters. In fact, we should dig deeper and learn the strokes of Chinese characters. These stroke are as important to Chinese learning as phonics is to learning English. Without understanding the different Chinese character stroke lines and what they mean, your child will have a weak foundation that will cause problems later on.
Tip 2: Leverage on technology to make learning Chinese interesting
With children’s attention span getting shorter, it is tough to make them learn things that they are not interested in. Our advice is to fight fire with fire. If apps on tablets and mobile phones are getting the attention of our children, why not leverage these to teach them Chinese? Currently, most of the apps are developed by Western companies that do not have a strong grasp on how to really build a strong Chinese foundation for the child. So, to buy a good Chinese learning app, here is what you should be looking for:
- A focus on learning Chinese characters
- Let your child understand the different strokes and what they mean
- Is in line with local curriculum
- Have game like elements to keep children engaged
- Cute graphics and sound to make learning fun
Tip 3: Let your child read or listen to model composition
Once your child has mastered the strokes and understand their application to Chinese characters, it is time to let them learn how to string these characters into use sentences. The best way is to let read Chinese books. If they are not interested in reading, you can try recording them in audio and letting your child listen to that instead. These model compositions help your children to see how the characters are used and they also build a solid foundation of Chinese phases for further use in their composition writing.
Tip 4: Play their favorite cartoons in Chinese audio
If reading model composition is not viable yet, you can use the attraction of cartoons to expose your child to more Chinese listening. Some videos on Youtube has famous cartoons that have dubbed in Chinese. You can play these to your child, instead of the English versions. These should lower the resistance of kids to listen to Chinese.
Tip 5: Improve your own mastery of the Chinese language
Due to the heavy emphasis on the usage of English in our environment, most parents are lacking the ability to teach Chinese to their children. Before you embark on your teaching journey, make sure your own command of Chinese is sufficient enough to know the right things to impart to your child. It is also good practice to use more Chinese in your homes.
Learning Chinese is a ongoing journey. There is never an end until the child becomes interested and starts to pick up things on his or her own. As a parent, focus on building a strong foundation and interest is the best way for teaching Chinese to children.