Learning any language is a multi-faceted process that demands patience and effort, yet is rewarding in so many ways. If you’re committed to the idea of learning Chinese alongside your children, you’ll be able to share this special experience with them now and reap the benefits of knowing the language throughout life. The long-term rewards of learning Chinese will add to the richness of your children’s lives and give them the opportunity to explore a beautiful culture and make new friends.
One of the ways to help your children embrace learning Chinese is by making the process fun whenever possible. While it is critical to set structure around the learning process, such as establishing a schedule of classes each week, it is also important to keep your children engaged and interested by introducing Chinese into their lives in fun ways they can enjoy. Here are 3 tips for incorporating Chinese into your family’s routine in unique ways:
1) Schedule a movie night.
Spice up your family’s next movie night by choosing a popular Chinese film to watch. Younger kids will enjoy animated flicks like 2014’s smash hit “Meet the Pegasus.” (This movie is based on a popular animated series called “Pleasant Goat and the Big Bad Wolf,” so if your kids love the movie be sure to find episodes of the show online that they can watch as well.) Teens and adults will be glued to the screen for one of China’s recent intense fantasy films like “The Monkey King” or the critically acclaimed 2013 drama, “So Young.”
2) Play board games.
Does your family get together for a Family Game Night on a weekly or monthly basis? You can spice things up by adding a new Chinese game to the mix and inviting your children to learn about its history. “Go” is an ancient strategy game that dates back some 4,000 years. You can buy a low-cost set online for $20 and watch a few instructional videos to help you get things started. You can also try some games your kids might already be familiar with, like Monopoly, that are printed in Chinese.
3) Plan a Chinese meal.
If your family is used to ordering Chinese takeout, they will be shocked at the huge variety of Chinese dishes they’ve never heard of or tried before. After you’ve mastered a few standards like kungpao chicken and broccoli and beef stir fry, work your way to more “exotic” fare. Look up recipe ideas online, create a shopping list, and then have a fun outing to your local Asian supermarket. Let your kids pick out some snacks–perfect for movie and game nights–in addition to getting the essentials for your homemade Chinese meal.
One of the best ways to learn Chinese as a family is to hire a private tutor who can work with you personally. You’ll get to share the journey and celebrate one another’s accomplishments as you go. And if you and your family have already made progress in learning Chinese, be sure to check out fun online games and resources, like this Chinese language level test, to see how far you’ve come in learning the language. Remember to reward everyone in your family–including yourself!–as you continue to learn so that you will all stay excited and proud of yourselves as you master the Chinese language.