Learning a second language from an early age is incredibly valuable, so if you have decided to educate your children in Mandarin as a second language, there are some key things you can do to make it fun and enjoyable for them, which will help them as they learn.
1. A good learning environment matters
First off, ensure that the core learning environment is a good, positive, and resourceful one. It’s important that your children feel comfortable so that they enjoy the learning process. Nothing can kill learning faster than hating what you are learning, and that is true for anyone, adult or child. It is important, however, that they are challenged and enthusiastic about the process. If it is too easy or too difficult, they may lose interest and not retain interest.
One-on-one classes can be a good way to ensure that your child will feel comfortable while being challenged. Either online or in person, this can be a valuable supplement to their main class; or the one-on-one class can also be their core class in entirety.
2. Add learning materials
Adding other materials in order to make learning for children more enjoyable and fun is key. These other resources enables them to use and practice their language skills naturally, which enhances retention. Learning a language is something that needs to be exercised, and if there is no method to apply it outside of class, they’re less likely to retain what has been studied.
To do this, you can try several things until you find which fits your children’s liking and learning style. One way is to listen to Chinese children’s songs. The words are easy to pick up, fun, and often catchy. You might find yourself singing along! Another way is to read Chinese children’s storybooks; and a third way is to watch educational Chinese children’s videos.
3. Use Chinese picture books
Just like English picture books, Chinese picture books have simple vocabulary along with fun and interesting pictures that can be entertaining for your child. If you take the time to read them along with your children, it could even replace some English children’s books as your child’s favorite!
Some kids will prefer a more active approach. Drawing pictures of what they have learned in class is a good method to help them remember their vocabulary. They can practice the characters they learn by writing the characters in combination with drawing matching pictures. Also, to simply draw something they like and look up the name in Chinese is an effective way of learning new words while provoking associations and enjoying creative learning.
All these methods work in combination. Your child can learn a word in a book and then draw a picture depicting the word from their imagination or experience. For instance, if you see a tiger in a book, you can look up the word and how to say it. Then, together with your child, draw the tiger! You could even go as far to find songs about tigers online!
There are many ways to go about this multilayered style of learning, but the core idea is to find methods that make your children’s learning entertaining, adventurous, and rewarding. In the same way that they have learned their native language, make Chinese just as fun and as interesting for them, and soon they’ll be speaking more Chinese than you!