Published on 23 June 2021 by Edu Aid | For Parents | Language
The desire to learn mandarin is growing rapidly worldwide. Recently, Duolingo reported that mandarin is the 8th most popular language on its app. It is clear that people are increasingly looking for ways to learn the Chinese language because of its numerous benefits.
With the rise of China’s influence on the world’s economy, knowing how to speak Mandarin can open up numerous travel, business, and even educational opportunities. It will inevitably become a valuable asset and important communication tool in a globalised world.
In Singapore schools, the Chinese language is an established part of the curriculum, given that bilingualism is a cornerstone of our education system. Over the years, the Chinese syllabus has evolved to move away from the rote memorisation of characters and phrases to cultivate proficient language usage in daily life.
Despite obvious advantages, getting your child’s interest in the Chinese language can be challenging. If your child is not enthusiastic about the language, here are some reasons.
Not seeing the value in learning the Chinese language.
Often, children don’t understand why they need to learn Chinese. It is especially true in Singapore, where English is the predominant language that one can still go about their essential activities, such as purchasing food and getting directions, without knowing Mandarin. There is little or no inconvenience caused if someone cannot read or speak the language.
They would not find interest in the Chinese Language if they cannot articulate the importance and benefits of learning it.
The Chinese language can be seen as complex and challenging to learn
Most languages use a romanised lettering system that is easy to learn and recall. Chinese characters, however, are symbols and characters that may be hard to memorise and recall. Writing Chinese characters requires a specific stroke sequence, making writing more complex.
Added to this are the complex tones used in Mandarin, which can be challenging for young children to keep up with. All these challenges can demoralise your child’s interest in the Chinese Language. Perhaps that’s why parents turn to private tutors who simplify the process and make Mandarin more fun through online or physical tuition lessons.
No role models
Children are good “copy-cats” and often look to their parents or other adults for inspiration. If your child does not have someone in the family who speaks mandarin, likely, they won’t even put in the effort to try and learn it.
Not receiving enough encouragement.
If a child feels overwhelmed or lacks confidence in their ability to learn Chinese without receiving support from a parent or teacher, they might lose motivation to study the language. This effect is particularly pronounced when students are taught the language through rote memorisation without engagement.
Now that we understand the potential roadblocks standing in the way of your child’s interest in the Chinese Language, here are some suggestions on how to increase your child’s motivation and interest in the language.
Unlock your child’s Chinese language learning potential with technology.
With the advent of technology, there are more and more ways to make learning Mandarin fun, engaging and interactive.
There are a variety of apps and websites available that are specifically designed to help children learn Chinese. Some examples include Wayaya Reader and Hello Chinese, but there are many more. These apps are often engaging and interactive, featuring animations, games, and sounds to make learning more fun. Additionally, they often feature native speakers pronouncing words and phrases correctly, which can be especially helpful for parents who may not be fluent in Chinese.
If your child is a video enthusiast, YouTube offers a wealth of Chinese-language videos, including songs, animated nursery rhymes and classics such as Little Red Riding Hood. If your child already enjoys one of these stories in English, try finding a mandarin version for them to watch. This makes it easier for them to follow the plot since they are already familiar with the storyline. They may even pick up some vocabulary words along the way!
Enrich your child’s learning of the Chinese language with interesting cultural exploration
Don’t just focus on teaching your child how to memorise Chinese characters. Why not make learning Chinese a meaningful experience by introducing him or her to the beauty of Chinese culture?
Start with traditional Chinese festivals your child already celebrates, such as the Chinese New Year or Mid-autumn Festival. Introduce the history, myths and traditions behind these festivals through resources such as books, videos or games to help nurture your child’s interest in the Chinese language.
Take your children to cultural exhibitions or activities organised by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre; the centre often provides exhibitions, talks, story-telling sessions and other resources that nurture an appreciation of Chinese culture. Embark on field trips to the Chinese Heritage Centre or other attractions such as Chinatown Heritage Centre. Take advantage of such opportunities to discover the richness of Chinese culture as a family!
Hire an engaging Chinese home tuition teacher
Some Singapore parents may enrol their children in highly sought-after “branded” group Chinese tuition classes with long waiting lists. However, this choice may not be the best option since the materials used may be too advanced for some students or too standardised for all learners, regardless of their abilities. As a result, it could quell the student’s enthusiasm and interest in the subject.
This is why hiring an experienced, engaging Chinese home tutor is more suitable for children struggling to keep up in class or requiring extra assistance with the language.
The tutor can customise the lessons according to the child’s level of understanding and interest, encouraging your child to learn at their own pace without feeling stressed. With a good tutor’s help, your child can pick up the language faster and develop a genuine enthusiasm for it.
Though it may seem like an uphill battle to stimulate your child’s interest in the Chinese language, don’t give up. Make sure to speak Mandarin at home as much as possible to show its importance in your family life.