- Communicate In Mandarin
If you want equal proficiency in both English and Mandarin, there must be equal exposure. It isn’t a matter of sending your child off to a teacher or a few classes a week to learn a language. Nor is it playing a tape and sitting him in front of a TV set. Language is caught, not taught. Children arn the language because they engage and communicate with it.
- Start Young
The first three years of life are when children are highly “contagious” to learning a language, so expose and engage them in Mandarin. Babies absorb all the language around them in order to know how to communicate and won’t get muddled by one language or another. The best way is for one parent or caretaker to each speak English and Mandarin exclusively.
- Motivate Them
Find activities that your child enjoys – martial arts, brush painting, cooking, drama, dance or singing – where the teacher speaks only in Mandarin. When that happens, your child will participate in something that motivates them, and Mandarin becomes the medium of communication.
Text: Nikki Fung, Young Parents, May 2014 / Additional Reporting: Sylvia Ong