Dana speaks Mandarin fluently and we’ve often been asked by friends and readers how we enthuse her in learning Chinese. It’s no secret really, we do it these 5 ways:
1. Through Travels
One of the key uses of language is for communication. Travelling helps children see the language come alive and when you are in a foreign country, they see first hand how useful the language is. For this reason alone, we’ve brought Dana to Taiwan twice for language immersion. She saw how we interacted with the local folks in Mandarin, how every sign board, every menu is printed in Chinese, and she even picked up conversational Mandarin phrases there. Taiwan as a destination is not expensive (with budget airlines and many good B&Bs) but the vast exposure it provides for children – Priceless.
|Taiwan – best place for Chinese immersion!
2. Through Songs
In learning a new language, one of the most effective ways for children (and adults) to pick up new vocabulary and pronunciation is through rhymes and songs. When Dana was younger, we bought this ‘Sing to Learn’ Chinese Children’s Song DVD (available at Mothercare and Popular Book store). Last year, we bought this ‘Streams of Praise’ Worship for Kids DVDs (available at Christian Book Stores), all of which she enjoyed immensely. Recently, Daddy purchased some 邓丽君 (Teresa Teng) oldies MP3 from iTunes and started listening to them on our car rides. Guess what? Dana can now belt out oldies like “月亮代表我的心”, ‘小城故事”, “千言萬語” and “夜來香” rather convincingly!
3. Through Conversations
My Chinese educated Mom would attempt to speak to Dana in a smattering of Singlish as she subscribes to the belief that if she spoke Mandarin, the grand-kids would not understand her. We begged to differ and insisted that my Mom speak to Dana in Mandarin so that she can grow up in a bilingual environment. Dana also interacts with Great Grandma in Mandarin. We have a spontaneous ‘Speak Mandarin Day‘ once a week where we attempt to converse entirely in Mandarin. This has proven to be quite hilarious as Daddy’s Mandarin is atrocious but the girl enjoys it and so we will persist. Whenever we dine out at Chinese restaurants, we encourage Dana to speak to the wait staff for any requests we may have (e.g. to ask for the bill, the menu or to thank them). This builds her confidence in using Mandarin with different people she meets.
|Mandarin breaks down barriers between generations…
4. Through Drama and Poetry
One of the most enjoyable holiday camps Dana has attended and continued to speak fondly about were those of the Chinese drama camps conducted by Apple Pie. Incorporating use of songs, drama techniques and poetry, these camps instill a love for Chinese without any stress or tears. It’s pure fun, laughter and creative exploration!
|Who knows Chinese camps can be so fun and engaging?
5. Through Books
All parents can create a language-rich environment filled with books and other reading materials for their kids in their own homes. When it comes to Chinese books, we turn to Flip For Joy 乐翻天! – a homegrown Singapore-based children’s online bookstore started by a Momtreprenuer. The owner, an ex JC Chinese language teacher, has very high expectations when it comes to educational resources so each title is meticulously hand picked and patiently reviewed to ensure they are fun, exciting and engaging for children.
For the upcoming June school holidays, I asked Flip For Joy 乐翻天! for some age-appropriate recommendations for Dana and she sent these over:
Watch the popular story of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs spring to life in these beautifully crafted pop-up books from Korea. The lovely illustrations, bright colours and pop-up pages promise a fascinating and engaging reading experience.
|Getting them acquainted to well-loved tales in Chinese!
|Aren’t these 3D pop-ups beautiful?
A collection of classic stories with colourful clay figurines make great companions as the little ones enjoy the many captivating tales that inculcate good values and wisdom. Hanyu pinyin included.
|The Hanyu Pinyin guides children to read independently and we liked the values behind each story.
|One of the first things which attracted Dana to this series were the claymation!
Translated from a popular Italian series, these colourful and creative board books promise to stretch your child’s imagination and develop their fine motor skills. Hop onboard a train and go on an exciting railroad adventure exploring various countries and learning historical facts about them. Hanyu pinyin included.
|Tactile elements add to the fun of reading Chinese books!
|A fun adventurous for little explorers!
|Visit http://www.flipforjoy.com.sg/bookstore.html for more great books!
To spread some love for learning Chinese, the kind folks at Flip For Joy 乐翻天! is giving two lucky Princess Dana Diaries readers a copy of the 3D fairytale pop-up books which Dana enjoy. There are two titles to choose from: 美人鱼 or 白雪公主.
To join the giveaway, simply follow the steps here: