Learning Chinese for the first time? 4 Essential Tips to Get You Started
Chinese language-learning lies at the very heart of the Yew Chung International School of Beijing curriculum. Most lessons are co-taught by one Chinese and one English-speaking teacher, and students receive Chinese language lessons every day. Ms April Peng, Primary Chinese Coordinator, offers some advice to parents whose children are learning Chinese language for the very first time this year.
1: Find Your Voice
Encourage your child to practise their Chinese in real life. Speaking in the classroom is different to speaking to a local, and it is important that students can converse in real situations. Ask your child to say good morning to your neighbours and ask how much something costs in the shops. Practising simple vocab and phrases with Chinese people will help them find their confidence.
2: Make it Fun
It’s important that your child enjoys their Chinese. There are lots of ways to make it fun. One way is by watching Chinese films. I can recommend Kung Fu Panda 功夫熊猫 (the Chinese language version), the Chinese animation Lotus Lantern 宝莲灯 and Mulan 花木兰.
3: Use Online Materials
There are many websites and apps that help with Chinese learning now. Chinese.littlefox.com provides animated stories and lessons in Chinese that your child can watch online. Chineasy.com is a beautifully designed system for visually memorising characters. Strokeorder.info is useful for checking the stroke order of each character – which will improve handwriting and help with memorisation.
4: Finally – Be Brave
Learning Chinese requires time and effort. Sometimes sitting down to learn new words and vocab is the last thing your child will feel like doing, but they must be brave! As with any language, or indeed a musical instrument, before you start to love it you must put the hours in. It will pay off!
Ms April Peng has been at Yew Chung International School of Beijing for 16 years, where she has helped grow the Primary Chinese language programme into an internationally-recognised curriculum. Ms Peng has a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Teaching Theory, and a BA in Chinese Literature.