The best way to learn a language is to be exposed to it more frequently. Fortunately there are plenty of online resources nowadays to get children excited about learning Mandarin outside of the classroom.
YouTube has lot of great Mandarin channels for children. Pinkfong Chinese （碰碰狐） provides all sorts of bilingual rhymes in Mandarin and English such as “Baby Shark”, “If You’re Happy and You Know it”, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star “and so forth. The channel is very kid-friendly using an appealing pink fox to encourage the children to sing-along to the songs. The classical songs are great to start off with, since they use familiar melodies. Then your child could move onto other rhymes that cover different topics for example weather, different types of clothing or Halloween-themed songs.
Storytelling is another good activity for children to acquire vocabulary in an authentic context. At Stamford we use an app called JoyReader to encourage students to read independently at home. The app functions as an online library with a wide book collection of different reading levels. When a book is selected, the app will read aloud for the children and the text will be displayed for them to follow. Children can also record their reading compare it with the original soundtrack. The fact that children can have competitions with each other and their classmates on the number of books read and follow each other’s account immediately motivates children to read more and so this app gradually builds Mandarin literacy.
Another great tool is Pinterest. It has always been a teacher’s go-to site, but it can be very helpful at home as well. Simply type in Mandarin” in the search box. You can find numerous Mandarin posters or flashcards designed by various educational institutions. One way to use this resource is to print out the words and pictures and ask your child to use these to label things in your apartment. Children can also play matching games with homemade cards. Moreover, if you search “Mandarin crafts”, you can find different crafts ideas related to Chinese characters and culture.
These resources are easily accessible which will aid students to improve in all aspects of their language learning including reading, writing, speaking and listening. Parents can help children get regular exposure to Mandarin everyday to both stimulate interest and continue the Mandarin learning in daily life.
About the Author
Ivy is one of the highly qualified Mandarin teachers at Stamford American School-Hong Kong. She has a wealth of experience teaching Mandarin and English as a Second Language at schools in the U.S offering the IB curriculum. Having recently completed her Master’s in TESOL at Columbia University, Ivy is skilled at teaching various age levels and has taught children from the lower elementary grades all the way to university students. Ivy is also fluent in Spanish and is an expert in STEM programs.