Bilingual parents who want to teach their children their native tongue have a clear advantage when it comes to second languages. Not only can they speak the language themselves, but they can help their own children with questions or frustrations they might have. But even if you know a second language like Chinese, you might not know just where to start with teaching someone else how to read and write it.
Here are some tips to help you teach your children how to learn Chinese through fun!
- Read Chinese Books Every Single Day—You don’t have to start off with books in complete Chinese! Start off slow with books in your own language about the Chinese culture. Then you can look for books that are bilingual—in your own language plus Chinese. You can gradually build up into smaller Chinese books that are made for beginners. For instance, make a Chinese reading time for about 10 minutes a day and then make a normal reading time in your own language for 20 minutes a day. Once your kids have mastered the Chinese books you have given them, you can move them into 15 minutes a day and harder beginner books.
- Make Your Home a Bilingual Haven—When you are doing everyday things, make sure to speak Chinese to your children. Everything from pouring cereal to them to drawing a bath. Hearing it more often and having them repeat what you are saying for each word may be awkward at first, but within six weeks, they will already have a better understanding. There is a wonderful book called Raising a Bilingual Child which is an amazing help to this.
- Make Fun Chinese Learning Experiences—Book learning can be intimidating sometimes, so make sure to include some fun experiences as well. Like cooking Chinese food at home one night. Or having a movie night with a Chinese movie in English subtitles. There are a lot of Chinese cultural experiences you can use at home that will make learning so much more fun!
- Get Exposed to Native Speakers of Chinese—As a bilingual adult, this can be you if you are a native speaker. It can also be friends, other family members, or even a Chinese tutor. The more your child hears Chinese spoken from a native speaker, the better their understanding will be. You can also use audiobooks or television shows to help in this area as well.
- Set a Realistic Plan—If you don’t live in an area where there are a lot of Chinese speakers, then your children will not hear Chinese as often. Set a realistic plan to make sure you don’t have your expectations set too high. Sit down and think about how often your child will be introduced to Chinese, whether it be from you, your spouse, a tutor or other outside sources. Then base your game plan from there.
- Get Help from a Tutor—Homeschooling can get very time intensive. Nowadays, hiring home tutors is not so expensive. Consider hiring an expert from a local Chinese tuition agency like SmileTutor or via online forums. You’ll have some free time to go do groceries or other errands while your child gets additional exposure to different teachers.
- Use Chinese Around the House—everything from labeling household items in Chinese, writing shopping lists in Chinese, pursue Chinese hobbies like Kung Fu, or even writing a journal in Chinese. All of these things can be done at home, even if you don’t live in a Chinese predominant area.
- Make Sure to Build Your Own Vocabulary—When you’re teaching your kids, make sure you are building your own vocabulary too. Someday, they will have more questions than you might know how to answer! So learn along with them! A fun way to increase vocabulary is through Chunking.
If you take the time to make learning Chinese fun for your kids, you will have not only an educational experience for them but a wonderful bonding time as well.
Do you teach your kids Chinese or another second language in your homeschool? What are some of your favorite tips or tricks? Share them in the comments.