Immersion is one of the best ways a child can learn a new language. If you have a child who wants to learn Chinese, they’ll have a much better chance if surrounded by it. For parents living in American suburbs, that’s easier said than done! Finding new ways to get kids interested in such a challenging task can take time and effort. With these six tips, you can organize activities that may quickly make a new language second nature!
#1. Tune In to International Channels
Children learn a language best when they hear it and use it constantly. While you may have no idea how to speak it yourself, there are still many ways to help your child learn Chinese. An excellent method to stimulate immersion is turning the TV to a station with the appropriate dialect. Because programs are written for people of all ages, it should be easy to find one your child is interested in!
#2. Friends Overseas
Playtime is the best time to learn since kids don’t even realize they’re helping to better their education. There are a number of ways that you can introduce a native Chinese speaker into your child’s friend group, including:
- Video play dates
- Local Chinese learning groups
- Pen Pal programs
- Language-learning meetups
Tapping into your child’s media and social habits will help them better handle the second language. Practicing becomes more critical because it’s the primary way they can interact with their new friends!
#3. Class in the Kitchen
Everyone should learn how to cook for themselves, and kitchen time is also a great place to practice a second language. You can start with traditional recipes that provide a culinary vocabulary for the little learner and offer insight into the culture as a whole. While a great way to initially learn Chinese, you can take it a step further by creating recipe cards for their favorite meals.
Since writing a language is often disconnected from speaking it, practicing Chinese characters when transcribing recipes creates that important link between vocabulary and reality. Instead of using flashcards to learn familiar words, your child will interact with the product they are describing, placing that information much more securely in their memories.
#4. Native Jokes and Tongue Twisters
Not every activity has to be an active one. Sitting down with a good book can be a relaxing time for a lesson. Of course, you’ll want the selected reading material to interest your young student, too. That’s where native tongue twisters and jokes can make a big difference when learning Chinese or other languages.
Kids love hearing and telling jokes, while riddles and Chinese tongue twisters can be just the right kind of challenge that keeps their interest strong. These silly tales and sayings have the added benefit of showing cultural differences, especially around what different people find humorous or out-of-place.
#5. Podcasts and Music
You don’t need to rely on TV or books to help get your child to love learning Chinese. Podcasts are an excellent avenue for learning since a lot of conversational verbiage are used to discuss a wide range of topics. Learning authentic Chinese music is another great opportunity to pick up on the language while delving deeper into another culture. You can even find translated tunes that your child may even be able to follow along with!
#6. Learn Chinese Through Gaming
While most parents want to limit their children’s video game time, it makes sense to leverage that desire for educational purposes. Electronic entertainment is popular around the world, and many games, including “Minecraft,” “World of Warcraft,” and other massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, are exceedingly popular around the world and can have their languages changed via simple menu options.
Another great idea is to have your child engage with Twitch streams in Chinese. Kids can watch their favorite games being played by native language speakers, picking up vocabulary much more easily because they are already familiar with some of the content. Of course, there may be some trash-talking, too, but you can always chalk that up to your child learning more colorful colloquialisms.
Engaging Through Immersion
Helping your child to learn a world language like Chinese may seem daunting, but with the right tools, kids can master them quickly. Providing kids with podcasts, shows, and music they can enjoy also offers them a chance to practice vocabulary in an entertaining setting. Adding some friends that speak the language, either natively or having learned it themselves, gives kids even more support as well as builds their community and social skills. Most importantly, working with your child to learn a second language will give them a gift they’ll cherish their entire lives!