Learning Mandarin can be a complex affair even for the best of us. But you want your children to be multi-lingual, right? You have no choice then but to make Mandarin learning fun and engaging for your little one.
We have done the homework for you on ways to make Mandarin-learning enjoyable and easy for young children.
Here is a list of 13 ways to make Mandarin-learning fun for young children
1. Teach and Sing Chinese Songs
The Chinese have many vibrant songs around their culture, food, animals, and pets.
Songs that have catchy words are more likely to build your tot’s vocabulary, and eventually, help them create sentences and phrases.
Songs with enjoyable beats make learning Mandarin fun and less work.
2. Try Out Chinese Folk Art
Try out modeling, paper pattern cutting, origami, blue and white porcelain appreciation, Chinese Knotting, and reciting Di Zi Gui discipline rules.
Immersing in Chinese folk art makes your little one appreciate the Chinese lifestyle. Learning Mandarin ceases being work and becomes an activity that they love.
3. Go Out on Fun Expeditions
Immerse yourselves in the Chinese culture by visiting Chinese Tea Houses, museums, China Town Heritage Centre, Chinese temples among others to help your tot understand the history of the Chinese and understand their culture.
Visit the Chinese Garden where your kiddo will learn the traditional characteristics of the buildings and the scenery. While there talk to each other in Chinese and interact with other Chinese speakers.
This is a perfect opportunity for your tot to learn new vocabulary in a friendly environment. They will have so much fun that they may not realize that the excursion is part of your attempt to have them learn Mandarin.
4. Engage in Culture Rich Activities
Chose activities that help your little one appreciate the Chinese cultural heritage. Here is a list of fun activities that will help your child get immersed in Chinese culture in no time.
• Play Board Games
Chinese chess and checkers are a fun way of introducing the fundamentals of Chinese heritage.
Look online for other age-appropriate games that can enrich Mandarin learning for your little one.
• Kite Making
Make a kite with your tot and in the process explain its origin and importance to the Chinese culture. Top up this fun activity by flying the kite at Marina Barrage.
• Visit a Play Theatre
Your little one will have super fun as they watch a Mandarin stage show for kids. They will catch funny Chinese phrases and enrich their Mandarin without realizing it. In no time, they will be humming songs that the actors were singing.
5. Label Things in Chinese
Use Mandarin to label items in the house. Label furniture, fridges, drawers, and household items in Mandarin. Decorate their rooms with posters written in Chinese.
You can buy these easily in bookstores, or make one on your own! You can even write your little one’s timetable in Chinese and allocate a few hours in a day to Chinese speaking.
6. Speak Mandarin Yourself
Children learn best from observing us and not necessarily from what we tell them. There may not be a better way for your tot to learn Mandarin than to learn it from you.
Speak the basic common words and progress to more complex ones as they develop proficiency.
The bottom line, do not ask your children to do what you are not doing. Speak more Mandarin yourself.
7. Surround our kid with Chinese Speaking People
Make it a habit to visit your Chinese-speaking friends. You can also meet some Mandarin-speaking people at cultural festivals.
If grandparents are Mandarin-speaking, it would be great for them to stick to a speak Mandarin-only environment when your children spend them with them.
Organize play dates with Chinese speaking children. Your child will learn Mandarin better if they interact with Chinese speaking peers.
8. Utilize Technology
In this era of technology, you can make Mandarin learning fun by using the various apps available. Apps are an excellent way of learning Mandarin besides being in a classroom setting.
You can use various online games designed to help kids improve their grasp of the Chinese language. These games make Mandarin learning fun and not cumbersome.
9. Encourage Your Little One to Watch Videos and TV Programs
Age-appropriate videos and cartoons sharpen your little ones listening and speaking skills. Within no time, your tot will be mimicking their favorite cartoon character and singing along the Chinese video songs.
However, follow the World Health Organization(link our article) or the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on screen time for children under five.
Draw simple pictures and match them with Chinese characters as a way of learning new words.
You can draw animals and ask your tot to name them in Mandarin. For example, you can draw a panda, look up for its Chinese name and then go online and look for songs and stories that talk more about Pandas.
11. Reading and Story-Telling
Read Chinese stories that highlight Chinese values and cultural aspects. For example, the ancient tale of ‘Sima Guang Breaks the Vat’ 《司马光砸缸》https://youtu.be/1fB5SVY2BYc highlights the importance of being brave, staying calm and thinking creatively to helping those in need.
‘Journey to the West’ 《西游记》is also a fun Chinese classic fairy tale that has many interesting characters that continue to mesmerize children and adults alike.
Books with simple words and large captivating images can be such a fun way for your tot to learn Mandarin.
12. Use Flashcard Displays
Have flashcards that feature an English word on one side, pinyin in the middle and Chinese characters in the end.
Reading these flashcards often helps children memorize Chinese characters and their pronunciation.
13. Make Mandarin Part of Your Little One’s Daily Life
Let mandarin form part of your daily routine. Avoid making it look like a unique activity that is done at certain times.
Read and listen to Chinese literature daily. Speak Mandarin regularly throughout the day.
Though learning Mandarin can be challenging at first, incorporating the tactics discussed above will make learning mandarin fun for children.
Tell us in the comments section what has worked for your family.