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The 10 Best Ways for Children to Learn Mandarin Chinese

By Yann, published on 03/10/2018 Blog > Languages > Chinese > 10 Tips for Teaching Children Chinese

The Chinese language is actually a group of related languages that are spoken by around 16% of the world’s population. However, these languages aren’t necessarily mutually intelligible, which means a speaker of one mightn’t be able to understand the speaker of another.

Within China, the languages in this group are considered dialects. However, there’s a strong case for them being classified as different languages, namely the mutual intelligibility we just mentioned.

Of the languages in this group, Mandarin Chinese is the most common and is spoken by around 960 million people. Mandarin also has a number of different local varieties and dialects which are also not mutually intelligible. However, to keep things simple, it’s generally considered to be one language.

There’s a standardised form of the language which is used officially, taught in schools around mainland China and is what you’ll learn if you study Chinese. Generally speaking, Chinese and Mandarin are used interchangeably in common parlance and when we say Chinese, we mean Mandarin Chinese. If we’re referring to another Chinese language, we’ll say which one.

Learning a language, especially one as complicated as Chinese, can take anywhere between 3 and 10 years of practice as well as the right approaches when children are concerned. Children need to be interested in learning a language or they’ll quickly give up.

So how exactly can you help children to learn Chinese?

Since it can be difficult for a beginner to start speaking Chinese, in this article, we’ve got some tips for you on making learning Mandarin Chinese effective and enjoyable for your children.

Tip #1: Sign your Child up to Chinese Lessons for Kids at a Chinese Association

To learn how to speak Chinese, there’s nothing better than working with native speakers. There are plenty of Chinese associations around the UK who like to promote Chinese culture and language.

Where can you find native Chinese tutors? The best way for young students to learn Chinese is through professional native tutors. (Source: Ichigo121212)

Did you know that despite a growing demand for Chinese speakers, more students are still studying European languages like French and Spanish?

They can work on Chinese pronunciation, tones, and conversational Chinese in group classes and learn to read during literature classes. There’s often a focus on grammatical aspects of the language so that they can get by in the language.

That’s our first tip for getting your kids involved in learning Chinese.

Tip #2: Download an App for Learning Chinese

How many children would prefer to play on a tablet rather than go to class?

Probably almost all of them! A good tip for learning Chinese is to get them learning digitally. Both free apps and paid apps can help children to learn!

You can download an app according to your child’s level:

  • For beginners, there’s Pleco, which can help you get started with Chinese characters.
  • Intermediates can use the HelloTalk to meet other learners.
  • Anki is useful for experts wanting to broaden their vocabulary.

Tip #3: Provide them with Chinese Resources

Even mobile-addicts can enjoy a good book from time to time. That’s why you should get your child some good books on language learning and learning Chinese including:

  • An English-Chinese dictionary
  • The writings of Confucius (it’s a collector’s piece)
  • A Chinese vocabulary book and a Chinese grammar book

With these, your child will be ready to start their intensive Chinese lessons!

Tip #4: Get your Child Private Chinese Tutorials

Whether they’re planning on learning quickly or just getting the hang of Chinese, private Chinese tutorials with a private tutor are an effective way of teaching them a new language.

Why?

Because a private Chinese tutor can tailor their lessons to the needs and abilities of the child.

Did you know that there are Chinese tutors on Superprof all over the UK?

It’s not difficult to get started. The private tutor will act as a guide and integrate cultural knowledge about China into their lessons, too.

Tip #5: Sign Up Teenagers to Chinese Language Channels

The best way to get teens to work on their Chinese speaking and listening is to give unlimited access to Chinese audiovisual resources such as:

  • Chinese films with famous actors
  • YouTube channels covering topics that they’re interested in
  • Sites with podcasts on Chinese culture and the People’s Republic of China

Which are the best Chinese TV channels? Culture and language are linked. (Source: Highline)

A good variety of resources can help keep things interesting. You could even take them to the cinema to see a film!

Additionally, most of these resources can be taken with them wherever they go, helping them learn to read and write on their own and practise speaking and listening to native speakers.

Tip #6: Participate with Them in Chinese Cultural Workshops

In order to teach children more effectively, you need to use a variety of learning resources, especially when it comes to learning languages. There are tonnes of options when it comes to learning Chinese:

  • Chinese writing, characters, or sinographs.
  • Games for remembering words, characters, and meanings.
  • Immersion classes on Chinese culture like the Chinese New Year, for example.

Have a look at local Chinese associations for these kinds of events.

These will help you keep you child interested in the language and make learning it much easier. You can also join in, making it an activity you can both do together.

Tip #7: Find Resources to Make Learning Fun

Learning Chinese doesn’t need to just be about studying and memorising ideograms and new vocabulary. There are plenty of amazing Mandarin Chinese resources for learning more about the language.

Why not learn about traditional Chinese painting?

Artistic kids will love this as there are plenty of great Chinese artworks that can inspire them to learn more about China and the language.

Kids can also enjoy Chinese food, which is varied and relatively healthy.

Why not do a Chinese cooking workshop together one Saturday afternoon?

It’d be a great opportunity to use some Chinese food vocabulary from the previous week’s lesson. It’ll also make you realise how much easier it is teaching them Chinese!

Tip #8: Send them to Mandarin Chinese Conversation Workshops

Which is the best way to make friends and practise a new language?

Conversation classes, of course! You can find them in larger cities and educational establishment. While you usually have to pay to attend, some of them are free!

How much do Chinese conversation classes cost? If you can’t make it to China, Chinese language groups are your next best option. (Source: Atlantios)

It’s recommended that you practise at least 2 hours per week in order to maintain your level.

The goal is to be able to speak with other learners from all over the world. Everyone is in the same boat and it can help you speak with more confidence. It’s also perfect for helping your child speak fluently. After just a few sessions, they’ll be completely indepedent.

Tip #9: Take them to Chinese Group Classes to Meet Other Learners

You’ll soon see that Mandarin Chinese isn’t the only type of Chinese around, there’s also Cantonese and Wan, to name a couple. While some variants may seem very similar at first glance, you’ll soon see how varied and different they are. An awareness of these will also help your child become more aware of just how diverse Chinese culture is.

Chinese associations can help them become aware of this. These associations are often run by volunteers and native speakers. They are keen to share their culture and language with everyone, including children. They’re also great places to meet new people with the same interests. They might even end up going to China in the future with their new friends!

This will encourage your child to learn, making learning Chinese much easier.

Tip #10: Organise a Trip to China with Your Child

An intensive Chinese course is always better in China! There are tonnes of options in addition to Beijing and Taiwan. There are a number of different types of language exchanges and language stays:

  • Language classes in the morning with cultural activities in the afternoon.
  • Staying with a host family in order to fully immerse themselves in the language.
  • Work-study stays in a business (usually for over 16s).
  • A holiday where they travel wherever they want in the country with other learners.

How long does it take to learn Mandarin Chinese? Every child learning Chinese should dream of visiting the Great Wall of China. (Source: panayota)

Of course, you need to plan this type of trip: think about getting in touch with all the appropriate authorities in the UK in order to arrange visas, accommodation, etc. Travelling is the best way to encourage your children to learn a language.

Convinced yet?

In short, learning a foreign language is always an enjoyable challenge. To make teaching your child Chinese easier, just follow our advice and consider getting some help from one of the many great tutors on Superprof!

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