Can you teach Chinese when you’re not good at it?

How did you feel about learning Chinese growing up? Did you have to take extra lessons? Did you go for tuition during primary/secondary education? Or did you take enrichment classes outside school? Did you like it?

How can we teach if we don’t have a good foundation and we’re so limited in terms of vocabulary? More often than not, parents feel the need to send their little ones off to an enrichment class in the hope that they will help us do the difficult work and build that foundation. 

Did your tuition classes help you in the past? What was it that made you improve? Do you think you would have liked it much better if your parents made it a point to speak, learn some Chinese characters together everyday?

Just some thoughts we have lately about learning Chinese, after seeing quite a handful of parents of (similar age group with our children) sending their little ones to extra classes. Just two key points we’d like to share this week!

Start with something achievable.

Remember how we started learning A,B,Cs and 1,2,3s. Yes, we start from that level. By now, you should have an idea what engages your little ones, which obviously may change from time to time. We tailor that with the activities we do. Motivate them, encourage them but don’t force or pressurize them! Somedays we just don’t want to read another Chinese book, and that’s alright! We can always come back another day. The key message is to start with something achievable, for yourself. Slowly help yourself and our little ones build up that confidence. Don’t feel defeated. We’ve heard too many stories from fellow parents that they level of the language is so bad that they don’t know where to begin. Or doubt if they are going to teach their little ones all the wrong words/pronunciation. It’s perfectly normal to feel that way, but don’t give up! Start with something you can manage no matter how small, or how challenging and embarrassing it seems.

Make it fun.

Easier said than done right? What makes you want to pick up a new word/read that book? We don’t take out the same activity more than twice a week and sometimes even more than a month, simply because our 3yo finds it boring. But there will definitely be activities that stick and they will keep coming back for more on their own. Those are your cues! Find out what they like/dislike and are interested to know more of – lots of trial and errors. Of course, its easier to consider what you’d like to know/learn as well! Because our children mimics us, remember? When we are excited about something, they feel it too!

There are no short cuts in learning language, there are so many words we still cannot recognize or read till today. It is a long process but consistency is key. No time? Even 5 minutes is sufficient. At the end of the day, it is how much you want to achieve what you set out to achieve. It’s okay not to know, learning is a never ending journey and we are glad to be able to learn with our little ones! 

Cheers, Cheryl @ FWC.

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