It is well-known that children are able to quickly pick up languages while they are young, so why wait for them to grow older and struggle to pick up a new language when they can naturally do so in their interaction with us while they are younger?
Still, it can be a challenge to teach our children Chinese when we aren’t good at the language itself. While we may not be experts in the language like teachers or tutors, there is still a role that we can play as parents in helping our children. Without further ado, here are some interesting methods you can implement to help your child see consistent results from as young as four years old.
Speaking Chinese at home – making it a natural part of their lives
Not only does this give them time to practice their oral Chinese, but it also lets them naturally think in Chinese. Most students struggling with their Chinese tend to think in English and translate their thoughts into Chinese. However, this is a complicated way of doing things, especially when English and Chinese sentence structures differ wildly, giving rise to multiple grammatical and syntax errors. Speaking Chinese consistently to our children at home while they are young gets them accustomed to speaking and thinking in Chinese naturally.
No, we don’t have to be experts to do this with them! While we often say that it’s the effort that counts, we encourage parents to pick up the basics and help their child along in picking up the language. This eases them into starting conversations, learning Chinese in school and even reading Chinese books independently.
Starting a Chinese journal with them
It’s more than just practice – it’s also getting an avenue to growing closer to your child. It can be on anything and everything, learning to use hanyu pinyin at the start if they aren’t sure about the vocabulary and slowly transitioning to fully utilising Chinese words.
They can utilise phrases like ‘I think’, ‘I feel’ and ‘I would want/like to’ to start their sentences to expand on their trains of thought. The purpose of the journal is to get them to be familiar with thinking and writing in Chinese, giving them the confidence to write their compositions in time to come. Getting them to learn Chinese while having an avenue to connect with them can make this fulfilling for the parents as well!
Create positive reading habits with them
Not able to read Chinese well? Fret not, as you can use books with hanyu pinyin here as well. Moreover, you can use children’s stories to build your child’s interest in reading as you teach them Chinese as well. This will eventually be reinforced in primary school as students read daily before assembly time.
Reading time with your child doesn’t just have to be one way. You can get your child to choose their favourite books, have them read to you in return or even have them share their thoughts about the lessons they’ve learnt or simply hear them share about their favourite part of their stories. Who says the reading time has to be boring? We can see what interests them and get them to share it in Chinese – the most important thing is garnering their interest and getting them to practice the language.
Precisely because we aren’t ‘teachers’, there are many ways that we can be creative in getting our children to pick up Chinese. The trick is to get them to stop thinking of these as extra ‘Chinese’ homework, but as an interesting activity and bonding session they get with you.
Still, we encourage parents to partner with teachers and tutors when it comes to helping their children get the best grades they can. Whether you’re looking to send your child to Chinese oral and composition tuition or thinking of getting them to learn Chinese online in Singapore, we have classes and tutors that offer the best classes to help your child improve. We believe that we will see consistent improvements in your child’s progress in Chinese, especially if you are keen to work together with our tutors as we create a great environment for learning in classrooms and at home as well. Drop us a message to see how we can help your child today!