Have you decided to have your kids learn Mandarin Chinese? If you have, congrats! Your children are well on their way to join the more than $1 Billion people around the world who speak Chinese as either a primary or secondary language, taking a huge step toward becoming global citizens, getting smarter, and even getting an early advantage in the future job market.
Related: Will learning Chinese give you job security?
Even though there are numerous advantages to learning Chinese, getting children to truly become interested can be a real struggle. Especially at the start of your language journey, the initial adaptation period might prove frustrating for your children, and it may be hard for your children to see the practical benefits of learning a new language.
But fret not, in this blog post, we present to you 4 fun ways to get your kids to love learning Chinese. In no time, your children will be looking forward to mastering the Chinese language!
1. Chinese Books / Magazines
In today's globally-connected society, we are lucky in that most popular books (both fiction and non-fiction) are translated into many languages. Chinese versions of books are a fantastic way of getting your children to learn Mandarin Chinese. You should seek out Chinese versions of best-sellers, especially series written for children and teens, and give them to your kids. As they read, they will soon be caught up in the plot, and yearning to learn more Chinese vocabulary so they can read faster and understand more.
When I was learning Chinese as a child, a friend of my parents gifted us with the Chinese version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which we didn't even own in English. I was soon caught up in the world of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and read through the book in a week, highlighting words that I didn't know and looking them up later. When newer books came out, my parents always made sure to buy me the Chinese version. I was so accustomed to reading in Chinese then that I didn't mind not having a copy in English!
2. Cooking Together
If your child is more interested in hands-on activities, cooking is a great way to learn and maintain interest in Chinese. Try planning a cooking session with your children, but print out the recipe and instructions in Chinese instead! Have your children read the recipe as you assemble the dish together, and teach your children crucial verbs and nouns as you go.
3. Karaoke!Songs are fun, catchy, and get stuck in your head. Chinese karaoke is so entertaining that even the most resistant learners will want to learn a few songs to sing at parties, or jam out to in the shower. Plus, music is way more memorable than vocabulary sheets or flash cards, and the language and pop culture in those songs are up-to-date! Try introducing your children to the music of some of the top Chinese/Taiwanese artists - try Jay Chou, Wang Lee Hom, or Jolin Tsai.
4. TravelWhether it's a short day trip to the nearest Chinatown for some authentic soup dumplings, or a week-long family vacation to the cities and beaches of China, traveling to a Chinese-speaking destination is a great way to get your children to learn Chinese. Often, it is difficult to get children to see "the point" in learning Chinese, especially if they have grown up in an English-speaking environment all of their lives. A few weeks before the trip, tell your children that they will have to interact with the locals on their own in Chinese, which means everything from ordering food, asking for directions, and even asking about where the restrooms are! Knowing that learning Chinese will be a need, rather than a "nice-to-have" will intrinsically motivate your children to learn.
The trip not only serves as a motivator, but it should also be a fun and totally immersive way to learn Chinese. Your children can employ their Chinese skills to order interesting and funky ethnic foods, strike up conversation with street merchants, and learn about the spectacular sites you visit on the trip. Travel nicely ties together the idea of usefulness and fun for Chinese learning.
Chinese learning doesn't have to be rote memorization or repeated working in character books. With the 4 ideas we presented today, learning Chinese can truly be a fun experience. Lastly, your full support is extremely important in improving your children's Chinese skills. Do take the time to travel with them, read with them, cook together, and participate any other fun activities that interests your children as you introduce an element of Chinese learning to them.
If your children want to practice their newfound Chinese skills with a live Chinese tutor, we are happy to help! Request a class today.