Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

May 23rd
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Home Education Tzu Chi Academy Three essential factors in learning Chinese

Three essential factors in learning Chinese

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It seems so difficult to be a modern parent.  Children these days face so much more competition, and seem to have so much more to learn than we did when we were growing up.  There are sports, swimming, musical instruments, dancing, public speaking, school studies, academic coaching…the list goes on.  With so much pressure to learn different things, and so little time in our busy modern lives, how do you find the time to teach your children Chinese and take them to Chinese school?


Teaching your children Chinese in an English-speaking environment feels a bit like a long complicated experiment.  You always feel a little bit anxious about whether it will finally succeed.  You always have it in the back of your mind that one day your children will flatly refuse to go to Chinese school, or simply decide that it’s not “cool” to speak Chinese, and they’re not going to do it anymore.

For us, there are three key factors in trying to give our children the best chance of speaking Chinese:  1.  You have to have the discipline to speak Chinese to your children in your own home, and insist that they always speak Chinese to you.  Why do we need to speak English when there are perfectly good ways of saying the same things in Chinese?  There are plenty of opportunities for speaking English in the wide world outside the home.  2.  You have to make Chinese fun, and focus on showing the children the things that they can only get by knowing Chinese.  Chinese children’s books, Chinese movies, Chinese games and computer programs, Chinese television shows.  If Chinese isn’t interesting and fun, it will end-up being too much work for the children for too little reward.  3.  Finally, Chinese school.  The children will never learn from their parents in the same way that they learn from a teacher in a formal classroom environment.  Also, the Chinese school experience is essential to demonstrate to the children that they are not alone – that there are lots of other children out there going through the same things, and that learning Chinese is something lots of people do together.