With the majority of parents using the English language as their mother tongue, many children were brought up speaking mostly in English. As such, they are not familiar with speaking the Chinese language at home and thus affecting them in learning Chinese at school. Today, many parents are concerned that their children are not keen on speaking and learning the Chinese language and find the language foreign and not interesting.
What should we do? How can we help our children love the Chinese language? There are 4 ways which we could motivate our children to love Chinese.
1. Read Chinese storybooks
Reading helps your child to cultivate a love for Chinese language and is an essential step to helping them become attracted to Chinese storybooks. The selection of these books needs to be age-appropriate and based on the children’s interest. We can start by introducing Chinese books into the child’s free time, playtime and bedtime reading sessions. With consistency, reading will soon become a routine and could develop into second nature.
2. Sing Chinese Nursery rhymes and songs
Research has found that even at a very early age, children can recognize and enjoy Chinese nursery rhymes. It is also found that the rhythm and repetition of each rhyme can motivate young children to sing, learn new vocabulary and recite with enthusiasm. Introduce simple Chinese rhyme such as 一二三四五，上山打老虎 学儿歌. The child can recite with ease and when accompanied with actions and movements. Your child will learn the rhyme in a fun and relaxed way.
3. Play Chinese flashcards in an interactive way
The contents of the flashcards should be thoughtfully selected from simple to complex and with attractive images to captivate the child’s interest in learning the Chinese language. By all means, make learning fun and motivating and at the child’s level of understanding and context. You could begin by placing the Chinese flashcards next to an object e.g. next to a cup. Say to the child, “杯” and then ask the child to pick up a flashcard to place beside it. Then let the child read the word aloud.
4. Speaking Mandarin to be a part of the daily life
Creating an environment for the children to learn and speak Mandarin can be most effective. Without a conducive environment, it can be difficult to see consistency in learning the Chinese language. Start by speaking Mandarin into in the daily life to encourage the child to be exposed to the Chinese language by regularly communicating to each other in the family.
Learning the Chinese language will take time. Be patient with the children, provide more time and pace for the children to pick up the language. Always be ready to praise and encourage the children to keep on learning and trying.