Being bi-lingual will benefit your child his entire life. He will have advantages in school, business, and in travel. Multi-lingual children also find it easier to learn more and different languages as they grow older. Your child will be able to learn about more cultures and societies because he will be able to ask questions and learn directly, rather than using an interpreter.
Beginning to teach your child Chinese does not have to be difficult. Learning can easily be made into a game to make lessons more enjoyable. Teaching opportunities are available almost constantly when you begin to watch for them.
Perhaps one of the simplest ways to teach your child Chinese words is to tell him what something in in Chinese, then repeat it in English. Then, repeat the word in Chinese. Ask your child to try saying the word. “This color is ‘red.’ Hongse. Red. Can you say the word? What color is this?” You should note what things are in Chinese throughout the day. Repetition is especially important for young children. The more your child hears the word, the more he will retain it.
In addition to generally pointing out words in Chinese, pick a handful of words each day that you will work on specifically. Perhaps you want to focus on teaching your child the words “dog,” “cat,” and “mouse” today. Look for opportunities to bring up the words. Draw pictures with your child of the animals, then tell them the words in English and in Chinese. Ask your child to try saying the words.
Singing songs in Chinese is another fantastic method for children to learn the language. Children are notorious for loving music, and when something has a catchy tune, it’s easy to sing over and over again. You can find different Chinese songs online, or you can easily make up your own. Just sing about what you’re doing or make up a special song for your child. Remember, your singing doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be meaningful to your child.
Chinese television programming is a good way to relax at the end of the day. Instead of letting your child watch the Disney Channel, put on 30 minutes of a Chinese cartoon. If you don’t have access to any Chinese television channels, Ni Hao Kai Lan is a Chinese-based cartoon show that is available on several networks. DVDs are also available for purchase at most movie stores.
If you and your spouse are both bi-lingual, you can also spend a day where one parent speaks to your child completely in English and the other parent speaks completely in Chinese. The more your child hears Chinese, the easier it will be for him to learn. Retention is key, and constant repetition encourages remembering.