Helping your child to pick up another language is difficult enough. Trying to help your child learn Chinese without knowing it yourself can seem almost impossible! Every parent wants to help their child become a success, and it’s challenging to find ways to make discovering a new language easier for them. If you don’t know how to learn Chinese effectively, here are some methods you can use to help your kids get a leg up on learning a new tongue!
If you’re looking to teach your child Chinese, you’ve made a great choice. Learning Chinese not only provides a valuable language skill but also opens up opportunities for cultural immersion and career prospects in the future.
1. Craft Clear Goals
It’s important to know how you’re going to get to where you’re headed, especially when attempting a new language. You don’t need to understand Chinese to create a plan your child can follow. Start with a general long-term goal that they can work toward. Then work on short-term objectives they can reach to give them a sense of pride and accomplishment. Check with your child’s educator to see what framework they have as well, so you can work together and create a plan that helps your child the most.
2. Mandarin and Cantonese
The Chinese language has two major dialects spoken across the world. Mandarin is used in mainland China and Taiwan, alongside some areas of Singapore and Hong Kong. American Chinese communities mostly use Cantonese, though Mandarin is becoming more prevalent. Most educators suggest learning Mandarin first since there are fewer tonal differences to learn in that dialect.
3. Practice With Native Speakers
One of the most effective ways to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it. That means looking for native speakers that your child can communicate with. Tutors and nannies whose primary language is Mandarin are great options since they are already fluent and can make learning Chinese as part of daily life conversations.
4. Musical Magic
When discussing how to learn Chinese, many professionals turn to songs. Some people find it easier to pick up a language when it’s associated with a tune, and kids may benefit as well. Some types of music you might want to investigate include:
- Pop Music: These songs may include more modern phrases to round out your child’s education
- Kid’s Songs: Generally containing simple lyrics and tunes, they are meant to help Chinese students learn the language, so they’re perfect for your child as well!
- Chinese Classics: Choosing traditional music will help expose kids to Chinese culture as well as its song.
- Translations: Favorites that have been modified into Cantonese or Mandarin can help to identify particular words.
Singing along not only helps kids to learn Chinese, but it’s also fun entertainment for the whole family!
5. Tune In for Teaching
Watching films, shows, and cartoons in Chinese can be a great way for students to get some context behind their vocabulary. YouTube has a number of options for traditional Chinese language shows with and without English subtitles. You can even find some of your favorite films that have been dubbed into Chinese, so you already have a doorway toward understanding conversations.
6. Local Immersion
International travel isn’t the only way people can immerse themselves. To better understand how to learn Chinese, you can immerse your child in some local options, too. Find playgroups that host other Chinese language learners, or look for cultural events in your area that will allow you both to explore the culture as well!
7. Focus on Pinyin
If your child can already recognize English letters, learning pinyin may be a great course of action. Pinyin is the romanization of Chinese, representing words with a westernized script instead of traditional Chinese characters. This can make picking up vocabulary much easier since the child can sound it out verbally.
Facilitate With Family
One of the best ways to learn Chinese is to follow along with your child! If you elect to learn the language as well, you have the opportunity to guide them through difficult situations. They may grasp concepts more quickly than you, too, allowing them to gain confidence as they show you how it’s done. If you make learning a new language a family affair, it will not only make education easier, but it can bring your entire family together, too!