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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

25 Suggestions for Kids Learning Chinese

A Mother was asking for some ideas on how to have her 5 year old Learn Chinese. The Mother is fluent, where the Father is like me (non Chinese).  Some of these may be obvious, but sometimes even the obvious gets forgotten.

1. Kids are very smart.

2. Kids can be very stubborn.

3. Kids are usually very short sighted.

4. Parents have to guide kids to do things they don't want to do, but should do.

5. Kids know exactly how to manipulate their parents.

6. Kids sometimes lie - I don't understand you, when they really do, but they don't feel cool speaking Chinese. I also see this with the use of selective hearing.

7. Its important to look at what your doing as behavior modification or creating a habit.

8. Gradual is a good approach, where you use Mandarin for so many minutes and build up to it.

9. When using Mandarin, do not get upset when your child claims not to know it. Explain it using body language.
10. Make a game of Learning Chinese if possible. Label everything in your house in Pinyin.

11. Use rewards as part of your habit forming. If they love peanuts for example, give them a peanut for each correct word in Mandarin. My daughter learned a lot of Taiwanese this way.

12. Watch video's that are all in Mandarin.
13. Create an environment where Mandarin is seen as cool.
14. Singing is a great activity where both you and your child can participate together. There are some products that have both Chinese and English in them.
15. Sometimes you need to have an outside person teach Chinese, because a child just does not listen to their parents.
16. Repetition is very important. Set aside a key time every week for Learning Chinese.
17. Use the idea of they can speak a language that nobody else knows.
18. Sometimes competition can be used as a way to increase motivation for learning a language. Where a child decides they are going to be better than so and so. I know somebody who did this with Taiwanese and decided she was going to speak better than their friends. It wows her friends parents when she speaks to them in Taiwanese, and her friends have problems speaking Mandarin, much less Taiwanese.
19. If you have relatives in Taiwan or China, send your child for a mini-vacation their for some full immersion to force them to speak Chinese. This happened with my daughter and first she tried to speak English, and nobody would speak to her in English. After the 1st day she starting speaking Mandarin to everyone and even some Taiwanese.
20. Set goals for your kids and track them for Learning Chinese.

21. Look on Youtube for Free Content for Learning Chinese. There is a lot there.
22. Celebrate Chinese culture in your house such as the Moon Festival, Chinese New Years, etc.
23. If your parents don't speak English, use this as another reason for your kids to speak English.
24. Make sure you Husband is supporting you in your speaking of Chinese. My wife and I agreed since my daughter was born, that I would speak English to her and she would speak Mandarin.
25. Make Learning Chinese fun for you and your kids.

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