5 Ways to Make Learning Chinese Fun and Interactive for Your Children

 

black and white wall art

Chinese is one of the most common languages spoken today, and parents are turning to Mandarin as the primary option for their children. It may seem difficult to learn Chinese, especially for English-speaking adults not used to the drastically different grammar structure. Picking up a new language is much less complicated for kids, and with the right tools, children can learn how to write and speak with ease! Here are a few tips to help get your child interested in the Chinese language.

1. The Value of Tutors

One of the best ways to learn a language is to spend time with someone who speaks it fluently. A tutor is a great way for your child to learn Chinese, especially if they have instructional experience. While some tutors are students themselves, most will have taught others the language before. Look for an instructor that has worked with young people of similar ages to your child since teaching tactics change with different ages.

Having continuous instruction by a tutor has several advantages. Your child will become more familiar with their teacher, and one-on-one education helps children focus on the areas where they need help the most. Most foreign language tutors are passionate about the cultures they study and will bring that enthusiasm into your child’s classroom sessions, too!

2. Get Ready to Read

When you’re young, every language is a new one. Introducing your child to books written in Mandarin at an early age will help them get accustomed to seeing the characters in association with images, just as a child learning English would. If you plan on reading with your child, seek out books that you are already familiar with, so you can follow in English and help interpret.

As your child grows older, the selection of appropriate books grows exponentially. Kids can learn Chinese by reading their favorite stories, such as the Harry Potter series in Mandarin. Children can also be introduced to Chinese culture through authentic literature, helping them learn more than simply sounding out words. Context is important, and reading works in their original Mandarin will provide a well-rounded education.

3. Language Leftovers

Another way to drive interest in Chinese is through food. While picking up Chinese takeout might seem like a great way to introduce your child to the culture, making meals following authentic recipes will be much more effective. Kids already love to cook, and making dinner from scratch will motivate them to learn Chinese and cook the recipe correctly.

When searching for recipes, try to find ones that are listed in both English and Mandarin so you can understand what you’re making, too. Authentic cooking not only envelopes students in the culture but also teaches the names and characters of common fruits, vegetables, and meats, as well as essential verbs they’ll use daily.

4. Songs and Videos

If your child loves music, focusing on Chinese songs and melodies may help generate interest in learning a new language. Younger kids can look to traditional Chinese children’s songs to expose them to the culture, while parents may appreciate translations so they can follow along with the tune. Older children will find a wealth of original music with Mandarin lyrics from a wide variety of genres.

Watching videos and cartoons is another method of subtly helping your kids learn Chinese. While spending time in front of a screen feels counterproductive, watching Mandarin-language content will teach kids new phrases that they can actually use in their daily lives. Kids of any age can benefit from appropriately themed Chinese programming that shows how the language is used instead of relying on books for context clues and pronunciation.

5. Games, Games, Games!

Playtime is the best time to teach since children are distracted by all the fun they’re having! There are a vast number of popular board games that are excellent for teaching basic language skills. Reading the directions in Chinese is great practice, especially if it’s a game your child is already familiar with. Playing Candyland in Mandarin, for example, lets your child interact with a family favorite while practicing simple movement words such as “forward” and “back.”

Kids can learn their colors, numbers, and vocabulary from even the most basic games. If more advanced games are a staple in your household, don’t hesitate to grab the popular “Settlers of Cataan’s” Mandarin language edition. Business-minded teens may flourish with a game of Mandarin Monopoly, and even UNO with Chinese numbers can get kids excited about the language.

It’s Fun to Learn Chinese

While you know that learning a new language can be difficult, your kids aren’t going to have the same bias. By introducing new ways to learn and grow using Chinese language materials, your child will have a much easier time grasping the lingo. Reading, singing songs, and playing games are all excellent sources of fun and education. By the time you’ve finished your tenth round of Mandarin Chutes and Ladders, you might be learning Chinese too!