How to Have Your Child Learn Mandarin Chinese

As we know, having a child learn Mandarin Chinese in English speaking environment is a tough job.

Especially, when a child is getting old, he starts to be more resistant to learn Mandarin Chinese.

Many parents feel frustrated with this issue and don’t know how to do.

In my post:  Your Child Doesn’t Want to Learn Mandarin Chinese? Read This, I share my opinions on this topic. I hope it is helpful for some parents.

In this post, I am going to give parents more ideas to help your child learn Mandarin Chinese based on my personal experiences.

1. Instead of keep forcing your child to learn Mandarin Chinese, keep motivating your child, so your child will have a strong motivation to learn Mandarin Chinese and will be more willing to learn on his own.

As a language teacher and learner myself, I know the importance of a strong motivation for a successful language learning.

Learning a second language is not easy. Especially, English and Mandarin Chinese are two totally different languages.

An English speaker might just need 6 month to be fluent in Spanish, however, he might need 3 years to be fluent in Chinese.

Without strong motivation, an English speaker might give up easily, especially, as a child, he sees few fellows learn Mandarin Chinese, he will give up more quickly.

There are various ways to motivate your child. For example, if your non-Chinese neighbor speaks Mandarin, tell your child: See, even he is not a Chinese, he can speak Mandarin. Why? Because learning Mandarin is getting popular now.

Or ask your child a question like this: If you are a doctor, tell me, speaking Chinese will help you get more customers or not?

If possible, always find opportunities to educate your child the importance of learning Chinese.

If you child is old enough to have a conversation, have a talk with him to know him why he doesn’t want to learn Mandarin Chinese.

When your child tells you the reason why he didn’t want to learn, you will find a solution to help him solve this problem.

I had a talk with my son, Big Wen. For some time, he didn’t want to learn Chinese at all. That is why I decided to have a talk with him.

Big Wen said: ” I will not live in China. I don’t know why I have to learn Mandarin Chinese.”

I told Big Wen: 1. You never know if you will live in China or not in the future. More and more people go to China for more opportunities. You might live in China one day.

2. Even you live in USA, in your area, there might be a big Chinese population considering more and more Chinese immigrants come to USA.

3. Don’t forget, we have family living back in China. They can’t speak English at all. If you don’t learn Chinese, you will lose the connection with these families sooner or later.

After this talk, Big wen starts to learn Mandarin Chinese again.

I am sure your child will be motivated as well if you show him the positive result of learning Mandarin Chinese well.

2.  Send a clear message to your child: Learning Mandarin Chinese is not an option, it is a must. 

If a parent doesn’t set up such a firm rule, guess what, many children will try to avoid learning Mandarin Chinese for various reasons.

If you really wish your child to be fluent in Mandarin Chinese, you have to let them know your expectation and follow the rule no matter what.

As I mentioned in the other post, it takes time to learn Mandarin Chinese well, you can’t expect your child to be good in all aspects.

If necessary, you have to reduce other activities to make sure your child has enough time and energy to learn Chinese. Otherwise, he will be too tired to catch up.

Like I said before, being bilingual is more practical than being a musician or football player. In this sense, learning Mandarin Chinese should become one of the top priorities when you arrange your child’s extracurricular activities.

One reason why Big Wen’s Chinese is good is because I give him enough time to learn. I won’t force him to learn playing piano if he is not interested. I won’t send him to swimming team either because he said no.

I give Big Wen the freedom to learn whatever he likes. However, when it comes to learn Mandarin, I told Big Wen: There is no negotiation. He has to learn Mandarin and he has to learn it well.

I am sure your child will learn Mandarin well too if he has more time to work on the progress.

3. Reward your child’s efforts to learn Mandarin Chinese.

A child is a child. He needs rewards to keep him enjoying the fruit of hard work.  Actually, we adults need rewards too. It is just human nature.

Big Wen is not born to love learning Mandarin. Actually, I still have to keep reminding him to finish his Chinese homework.

In order to have him do homework, I have to give him what he wants otherwise there are always some fights going on.

Like many boys, Big Wen loves playing games on the computer. I will let him play the game only after he finishes required Chinese homework.

If he wishes to play the game longer, no problem, do some extra homework like watching my Chinese learning YouTube Channel.

I am sure your child has something favorite too. Reward what he wants if he does his Chinese homework, otherwise he will lose the privilege for something fun.

Of course, if your child really hates learning Mandarin Chinese, you don’t need force him to do so.  Ask him the reason to see if you can help.

If not, just respect your child’s decision. After all, not learning Mandarin Chinese is not the end of the world.

If you child gives it up only because learning Mandarin is hard. Tell him: Stop complaining. Nothing comes easily. Try his best before he gives up. Once his Chinese is getting better, he will be glad he didn’t give up so early.

I saw many children gave up so easily and so early. I heard many people feel regret that they didn’t learn Chinese well, but I never heard any Chinese and English bilingual people said they were regret they are bilingual.

I am thankful that I am bilingual. I feel I got the best part of two worlds and two cultures. I hope one day my children will have this kind of thankful feeling too.

Learning Mandarin Chinese is a key to learn another great country and culture, plus it does provide many more professional and business opportunities. Many well to do families see the potential benefits. That is why they spend  money to have their children learn Mandarin Chinese.

As a Chinese heritage child, learning Mandarin Chinese will help my child feel more confident and proud with their Chinese background. Let alone, they will communicate better with the rest of families.

Inform your child these benefits. Keep them enjoying the beauty of Chinese language and culture with various ways. I am sure, mostly, your child will be happily to learn Mandarin Chinese.

Be positive and supportive. Learning a new language is a challenge but it should be fun too. It might not be fun at the beginning, but it will be fun one day. Give your child the hope and work hard for the goal.

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