10 Fun Ways to Motivate Children to Learn Mandarin Chinese
Nowadays a lot of people would like their kids to learn Chinese because they see China as an influential player in the international arena. Consequently, a question arises in front of many parents as to how to stimulate their kids’ interest in learning Chinese. Well, learning a foreign language could be fun and rewarding, and if you also feel puzzled about how to get this adventure started, the following 10 pieces of advice on how to make Chinese learning more enjoyable may be the answer that you are looking for.
It will be fun to ask kids to guess a word judging by the shape of their teacher’s mouth as most kids prefer what they can see rather than what they are able to hear. All you need to do is to give clues on a certain Chinese word by moving your lips only, which means you are supposed to do it without making any sound.
Some kids might treat it as a challenge in that it’s not easy to figure out the answer when it comes to words that are not used on a regular basis.
It will be a good idea to ask kids to use their imagination and make interesting sentences using some of the words they have learned. Meanwhile, it will be even better to choose a couple of popular cartoon characters to be the “protagonists” of their sentences in order to stimulate their interest in learning Chinese. In addition, it’s necessary to put an emphasis on the importance of the word order in a Chinese sentence.
Telling short stories
Kids like all kinds of stories such as fairy tales and fables, therefore it is also feasible to improve their Chinese by enhancing their story-telling skills. A simple thing to do is to show them a few cartoon pictures (again they can involve some of the kids’ favorite cartoon characters) and ask them to create a story based on these pictures.
If they are interested in the scenario, it will be easier for them to concentrate on the pictures, and they will be willing to learn how to tell the story correctly in Chinese.
Pictures are often used in class for kids to have a more enjoyable Chinese learning experience. Therefore, a fun activities that Chinese teachers can get kids engaged in is to let them see some pictures and Chinese words and then ask them to match each picture with one of the words that they think is relevant. One of the main advantages of this activity is that it can help kids develop their logical thinking.
Some kids are particularly fond of music, which makes singing an ideal choice for them to make further progress in their Chinese learning. It would be fascinating to teach them to sing some simple Chinese songs and at the same time help them understand some of the keywords.
Most kids would love this activity in that many children’s songs contain words and phrases that are related to toys or animals. There are many similar learning resources available on Youtube. For example, this video shows how kids can learning greetings in Chinese through a song.
Watching cartoon TV shows
Watching cartoon programs is an inalienable part in kids’ daily lives. Although most of the authentic Chinese cartoon series contains a large amount of advanced vocabulary, there are still a few cartoon TV shows that are easy to understand and can serve as excellent learning resources for kids to study Chinese.
One of the typical TV programs which is suitable for non-Chinese speaking kids to watch is 喜羊羊与灰太狼 (xǐyángyáng yǔ huītàiláng: Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf), in which the humble Grey Wolf is willing to do everything to please his bossy wife. The reason why this program is helpful for beginners to learn Chinese is that it contains a lot of simple phrases and dialogues that can be used in everyday life.
Moreover, the spread of the coronavirus at the moment has “created an opportunity” for kids to relax at home and watch their favorite TV shows. This cartoon video can serve as an excellent learning material for kids to learn how to express family members in Chinese.
Learning Chinese characters
Learning Chinese characters could be exhilarating as it allows Chinese learners to explore the logic behind different characters. When it comes to learning a specific character, kids would be more interested in its shape than its meaning. Therefore, it is sensible to clarify the connection between the shape (or sometimes the structure) and the meaning of a character in that it will help kids better understand and remember it.
For instance, this video shows how the shape of a character is related to its meaning in a fun way.
Practicing Chinese in real-life situations
An effective way to quickly improve Chinese is to practice it with native Chinese speakers in real-life situations. Bearing this in mind, it would be quite interesting if kids were taken to a local grocery store and were expected to cope with everything by themselves from asking for what they want to pay for their purchases.
Self-introduction (for small group classes)
One of the basic activities that all the kids can participate in during the class is to ask them to introduce themselves one by one in Chinese. After obtaining the basic information about each kid, it will be a good idea to ask them why they want to learn Chinese or what they like to do so that everyone will have a chance to speak Chinese.
Making dialogues (for small group classes)
When it comes to a small group class with an average of three to six children, asking them to work in pairs and make dialogues using what they have learned in class is what can help them to interact and know more about each other. In addition to learning Chinese, it is also a good way to make new friends.
About the author: That’s Mandarin is one of the oldest private Chinese schools in China. It was founded in Beijing in 2005 and has been growing ever since, with campuses in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. That’s Mandarin has been delivering excellence in online and offline Chinese teaching for over 14 years to more than 30,000 students of different nationalities.