Mandarin is one of the most spoken languages in the world; and teaching Mandarin can be possible with these 9 tips.
Go anywhere in the world: Asia, America, Europe, Africa, Australia, and you will most likely find Mandarin speakers. In fact, Babbel’s survey shows that one in every six people in the world speaks Mandarin.
Mandarin also happens to be a very popular language among Malaysians. Learning Mandarin can open up a whole new world of opportunities for jobs, business, travel, and education.
This is why many Malaysian parents realize the importance of having their children learn Mandarin. Some of them resort to sending their children to Chinese medium schools.
And these days, it’s common for parents of different ethnicity in Malaysia to do the same, and many also teach mandarin to their child at a very young age.
As a parent, encouraging your children to learn, read and write Mandarin can ensure that they have a good head start and a solid foundation before starting primary school.
The good news is that studies have shown children at the age of 3 years old are ready to pick up a new language. While many parents leave it to preschool to teach their child Mandarin, it’s also important for you to encourage your child to continue learning at home.
In this post, we will share 9 ways you can teach Mandarin to your child at home.
1 – Start with Everyday Words to Teach Mandarin to Your Child
As with any language, it all starts with learning the first word.
Introduce basic, everyday words to the child, such as basic greetings like “good morning”, “good afternoon” or “good night” in Mandarin
From there, gradually work in more words, like “good morning, teacher” or “good night, mother.” When you start with the fundamentals and then proceed to form longer sentences, this helps children establish a solid foundation
We encourage doing this practice every day to help incorporate Mandarin into their daily routine
Another tip is to play a small game where you ask your child to identify essential items like water, food, in Mandarin. This can be pretty much anything that they use on a daily basis.
And finally, find opportunities to have them exercise their minds by translating common phrases you often use at home in Mandarin. For example, phrases like “dinner is ready” or “wash your hands” can be said in Mandarin.
Daily repetition will help ingrain the words in their minds.
2 – Make it Fun with Nursery Rhymes and Songs
Did you know that songs are one of the best ways for children to learn a language?
Songs are actually highly recommended when it comes to teaching a new language to children. It’s fun, entertaining and provides a good break from classes and textbooks.
To get started, use sites like YouTube or Q-dees Online Fun Learning Hub to look for songs and nursery rhymes in Mandarin that your child can sing along to.
Nursery rhymes and songs are very helpful when it comes to expanding your child’s vocabulary. Be it learning about animals and sounds, identifying colours, or reciting numbers, there’s a song for everything!
We also encourage parents to kick it up a notch by using Mandarin nursery rhymes as background music at home. There are benefits for you as well, as both you and your child will inevitably pick up some words with consistent repetition.
3 – Learn Mandarin Together with Your Child
Chalk Academy suggest that parents who learn together with their children help accelerate their children’s learning abilities. We highly recommend the same thing for you.
There are many benefits for you as a parent to learn a language together with your child, not only you can teach mandarin when you grasp it; it creates a mutual learning and practice environment.
Children tend to feel more confident and motivated to learn when their parents learn together with them. This encouragement is extremely important, especially for young preschoolers, as they look up to their parents for guidance.
The activity of learning together also works as a great bonding session between you and your children.
Some of the things you can do to learn the language together is listening to Mandarin songs, nursery rhymes, telling each other simple stories, or pointing at things at home and identifying them in Mandarin.
4 – Make Time for Field Trips
Taking trips to the zoo, aquarium, or museum can serve as a fun learning opportunity for preschool children.
How so? That’s because learning becomes more effective when there are emotions attached to it. During field trips is when children feel excited and happy, presenting a good opportunity for learning to happen.
If you were to visit a zoo, point at the animals or objects while encouraging your child to recall its name in Mandarin.
Don’t have time to go on trips? A quirky idea is to bring your child to a Chinese restaurant for lunch or dinner. Most Chinese restaurants in Malaysia have menus written in both English and Chinese. Use this opportunity to encourage your child to read the Mandarin characters and guess what they mean.
5 – Use Charts and Flashcards to Teach Mandarin to Kindergarten Children
Children and even adults, learn best through visualizing.
This is why we often use posters, flashcards or charts with big Chinese characters and illustrations during Mandarin classes at preschool.
Forcing a child to memorise Chinese characters can be difficult and feel like a boring activity for them. This changes when you begin to use visualisation techniques in teaching, where you use images and flashcards to help them familiarise with new Chinese characters
At home, make sure to place the charts and flashcards at an area, preferably a study room, where your child spends a lot of his or her time.
Contrary to some belief, flashcards are not boring or dull. When incorporated with games, flashcards can be a very engaging tool for your children to learn Mandarin.
6 – Turn Screen Time into Educational Time
Whether we like to admit it or not, children love spending their time on smartphones and tablet computers these days. That being said, be careful of monitoring their screen usage time to avoid addiction.
If you allow your child some screen time on the tablet, don’t let that time go to waste. Make it beneficial for your child by downloading children Mandarin learning apps and turn that screen time activity into an educational one.
There are many fun and interesting apps that are specifically designed to help children discover and teach Mandarin. This can be very helpful for speaking, listening, and reading of simple phrases
Head over to Google Play Store or the App Store (for iOS) and type in “mandarin for kids”. You will find plenty of free and fun options.
Some popular Mandarin apps for children that we recommend are Fun Chinese: Language Learning Games for Kids, and Gus on the Go – Gus Learns Mandarin for Kids.
Otherwise, simply log into Q-dees’ Online Fun Learning Hub on your tablet computer and allow your child to explore the lessons. Q-dees online learning materials are designed to engage with children.
7 – Spend Time with Native Mandarin Speakers
Sometimes, the best way for preschool children to learn Mandarin is to simply communicate with someone who speaks fluent Mandarin.
Lucky for you, if you don’t speak Mandarin, it’s really not too difficult to come by Mandarin native speakers in Malaysia.
One of the ways to encourage this activity is to allow your child to have a conversation with someone who speaks Mandarin. This can be a neighbour, a good friend, a babysitter, or a tutor.
A native Mandarin speaker can tremendously help your child with their intonation, speaking, and listening skills.
8 – Sign Up for Activities Where They Teach in Mandarin For Kindergarten Children
Aside from home and kindergarten, there are other ways to help your child familiarise themselves with Mandarin. The key is to keep it light and fun, without putting too much stress on your child
Sign your child up for fun and engaging classes like drawing, painting, music or dance where the teacher teaches in Mandarin. This is also a great way to pick up the language and is a good break from the usual academic class activities.
9 – Reward Your Child for Their Effort
At a young age, your child may not realise the importance of learning Mandarin. They do not know the benefits of picking up the language.
If you don’t speak or write Mandarin, they may begin to question the reason why they need to learn Mandarin at kindergarten.
This is why it’s important to generously reward them for their effort to learn. Rewarding does not mean spoiling your child with sweets and junk food. On the flip side, reward them by praising. Have them feel a sense of accomplishment and build a desire to go further.
No matter the way you choose to reward your child, something you need to understand is that learning requires effort and has to be self-initiated. It cannot be forced upon a child.
With a reward for their effort, your child will be encouraged to keep going and doing better.
Few More Advice to Help Your Child Learn Mandarin
- Create a conducive learning environment for your children. If you are a Mandarin speaker, speak to your kids in full sentences to teach Mandarin accurately. Avoid using ‘baby talk’ and conversing in broken sentences to avoid bad speaking habits.
- Regularly spend time and provide your child with opportunities to listen and practice Mandarin daily. Consistency is key to how most children learn.
- Finally, always make the learning process fun and motivating. Avoid raising your voice or caning as this will instill fear in children. You don’t want them to associate learning Mandarin with fear.
Now you should have better ideas to help your child learn Mandarin.
With your child following a well-designed Mandarin syllabus at preschool combined with the activities you do at home, they will master the fundamentals of Mandarin-speaking and writing, in no time.
Get started now. At Q-dees, it is compulsory for 4-year-old children to enroll in out mandarin program.
Find out more information about Mandarin classes for children at a Q-dees Starts center near you: https://www.q-dees.com/starters/find-a-centre/