Blog Opinions

My Child Says No to Mandarin Chinese Learning

If you are my reader, you might know it already that I am determined to raise Chinese and English bilingual children. Actually, that is the reason why my blog was born.

In order to help my children learn Mandarin Chinese, I speak Chinese only most of time. I also created all kinds of Mandarin Chinese learning materials to help their learning.

Considering I am a Chinese teacher, does it mean my children like learning Mandarin Chinese? The answer is: Not really.

My older one, Big Wen, started to learn Mandarin Chinese characters when he was 4. When he was 5, Big Wen started to feel bad about speaking Chinese. In my post Why I Set Up a Mandarin Chinese Moms Club, I mentioned how I helped Big Wen love learning Chinese again.

However, every child is different. Currently, Big Wen’s Chinese is very good compared to many of his Chinese American fellows. Big Wen speaks Chinese to me. He can read a lot of Chinese characters. However, Little Wen is the opposite.

When Little Wen reached 5 years old, he started to frown at me when I speak Chinese. He keeps telling me to speak English because all of his friends speak English.

Am I upset? Of course not. Big Wen came from that stage. Now it is Little Wen’s turn.

Since Little Wen speaks English all the time, I know it is a bigger challenge to help Little Wen learn Chinese. I need find a solution for him.

What do I do? I sent Little Wen to sit in a Chinese weekend school classroom for several times while I was teaching Chinese in another classroom.

I can tell Little Wen shew great interest in Chinese learning. He even repeated several Chinese characters he picked up in the classroom. However, he soon lost his interest in the classroom and refused to go to weekend school again.

Since I planned to send Little Wen to Chinese school when he goes to second grade in the public school, I decided to teach Little Wen at home.

My teaching method is very simple: Keep speaking Mandarin Chinese to little Wen. As I mentioned, I speak Chinese most of time, little Wen understands me very well but he answers in English most of time unless he doesn’t know how to speak specific words in English.

At the same time, I try to have little wen watch videos and ebooks I created. In order to reward his efforts for learning, Little Wen will be rewarded to do something he likes, for example, some TV time, going to his favorite pizza shop etc.

First, I will have Little Wen watch videos or read books, then I will test him to see if he really understands. If not, watch or read one more time until he can read key characters by himself.

On the next day, I will have him watch and read one more time to help him review. Then I will test him again to see if he memorize more characters. Once he knows more characters, I will set up a higher goal to have him read the whole text.

The reason why I created a lot of songs is because singing is really helpful to learn a bunch of Chinese characters in a meaningful context without pain. Kids don’t feel overwhelmed and bored.

Once Little Wen knows enough characters from lyrics, I will have him read a short story, later, a longer story.

Since I stick to speaking Chinese to my kids, Big Wen has no problem with communicating in Chinese most of time. However, I have to ask Little Wen repeat what I said in Chinese time and time.

To motivate my children’s Chinese learning, I allow them to watch Chinese cartoons on the weekend.  Both kids love watching 熊出没  ( xióng chū mò ) ( boonies bears) and 大头儿子和小头爸爸 ( dà tóu ér zǐ hé xiǎo tóu bà bà ) (Big Head Son and Little Head Dad).

Does Little Wen still say No to Mandarin Chinese learning? Yes! However, when he is getting older, he starts to speak Chinese more and more. Guess what, little wen starts to say “I love you” to me in both Chinese and English!

Based on my personal experiences as a parent and teacher, if we wish to have our children learn Mandarin Chinese, we have to be patient. Don’t put too much pressure on children, keep the learning fun and relaxing, however, don’t let them give up easily either.

If you wish to know more my ideas about helping children learn Mandarin Chinese, please read these posts: 1. How to Have Your Child Learn Mandarin Chinese; 2. Your Child Doesn’t Want to Learn Mandarin Chinese? Read This; 3. How to Homeschool Mandarin Chinese; 4. How to Set Up a Playdate for Learning Mandarin Chinese; 5. The Best Way to Learn Mandarin Chinese.

How about you? Do you have similar experience? It will be nice to hear about your tips to help your child’s Mandarin Chinese learning.

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