Many parents often undergo significant stress when it comes to raising children to speak their mother tongue. This can be attributed to the fact that despite their best efforts, many children, even at a very young age, simply refuse to speak in their mother tongue.
Children’s resistance toward the mother tongue can also cause internal family conflict – the child is unable to communicate with their older grandparents, resulting in the elderly blaming the child’s parents for not teaching them the language. Furthermore, mother tongue learning is also deeply intertwined with academic success, causing the child to associate the language primarily with homework, exams and rote learning, resulting in stress.
However, despite it all, learning a second language has its benefits. It contributes to cognitive and social-emotional development, accelerates learning and even nurtures an appreciation for diversity. But how can you encourage your child to learn a foreign language without studying and additional work?
At MindSpace, our Primary Success Curriculum, After School Care and Weekend Enrichment Programmes incorporate Chinese learning throughout the activities. From stimulating interest in the language to learning useful idioms and building a Chinese vocabulary bank, our educators aim to strengthen their ability to understand and apply the subjects taught in school. But second language acquisition is not just limited to the classroom – it can also be done in the comfort of your home. Here are some tips to help expand your child’s second language learning at home:
Let Learning Happen Naturally
Avoid pressuring your child to study, practise or learn new Chinese words. Instead, try incorporating the language into your daily routine. For instance, you can start conversations and have them respond to you in Mandarin. Alternatively, you can take it a step further and enforce a ‘Mandarin only’ period each day where everyone in the household has to exclusively use Mandarin to communicate for a set amount of time. By getting everyone involved, your child may feel more comfortable about trying to express themselves in Mandarin without the fear of making mistakes, in turn allowing them to understand proper word usage and meanings. It’s alright if you are not proficient in Chinese or speak broken Mandarin. If you speak it regularly, it will acquaint your child with the language at an earlier age. At the same time, it also increases your child’s familiarity with the Chinese language, greatly accelerating vocabulary acquisition.
Expose Them To More Chinese Media
A common way for children to learn Chinese is to expose themselves to various media presented in the language. This can come in the form of songs, TV shows, books, or even short clips posted online. By listening, reading and engaging with such content, your child will better understand how to recognise and pronounce certain words in Mandarin and be more willing to learn.
Take An Active Interest In Your Child’s Efforts In School
In addition to incorporating the Chinese language into your daily lives, it is also important to keep tabs on your child’s performance in school to ensure that they are not facing any problems academically. This is especially crucial if Chinese is one of their weaker subjects, as they are less likely to bring it up at home. As such, you can try asking your child how their homework is coming along and offer your guidance where possible. Encourage them to seek you out whenever they are stuck on an unidentifiable word or idiom. Don’t worry about getting the right answers or whether you can recognise them yourself. Sometimes, it’s enough to let them know that you are making an effort to help them genuinely – they will feel more comfortable approaching you.
All parents want to provide their children with the best opportunity to excel in their studies, and after-school enrichment activities are one such avenue. At MindSpace, we understand that an aggressive tuition regime is often counterintuitive, as such, our enrichment programmes are arranged so that students still receive ample free time to rest. Besides English, Math, and Science, we also offer Chinese enrichment classes for Primary 1 to 5 students, helping them excel in learning a second language.