The Biggest Mistake Parents Make When Teaching Their Kids Chinese

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If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’re facing certain difficulties in getting your child to learn Chinese. Maybe your child doesn’t have an ounce of interest in the language. Maybe your child is doing relatively okay in all of his/her other subjects, but is getting abysmal grades in Chinese. Maybe your child is highly stubborn, and replies you in English even when you speak to him or her in Mandarin.

We’ve seen many parents who, discouraged by the above scenarios, give up and admit defeat. They tell us that they’ve tried everything, and that it’s simply impossible to get their child to learn Chinese when he or she has already developed such an intense dislike of the language.

But is that really true? 9 times out of 10, it’s not…

Many parents say that they’ve tried everything, but what they really mean is that they’ve tried the same thing over and over again.

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Let’s say they rely on flashcards to get their child to memorise Chinese vocabulary. They might try using the flashcards at the start of the week, only to be met with a refusal to learn from their child. Undeterred, they try the flashcards again, this time with an external reward involved – they’ll get their child a new phone if he/she manages to improve their Chinese grades. Still no luck. They try the flashcards yet again, this time on a weekend, hoping that their child will be better rested and more open to learning. It still doesn’t work.

Instead of simply using the same teaching method under different scenarios, how about switching it up completely? Here’s our rationale behind this – hear us out…

You can’t expect different results to arise when you’re doing the same thing, over and over again. Think about it – you won’t lose weight if you don’t make changes to your exercise and eating habits. Similarly, you can’t expect to achieve that “breakthrough” with your child if you continue using outdated methods of teaching.

Continuing in that same vein, this is the one biggest mistake that parents make when teaching their kids Chinese – which is utilising the same methods that were popular 10 or 20 years ago.

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It’s 2017, and an overwhelming majority of Singaporeans speak English at home. Yes, you might argue that your children speaks Chinese when interacting with their grandparents, but that isn’t sufficient for them to familiarise themselves with the language, or to develop an interest in it. Even if both parents are bilingual, this often has no bearing on whether your child ultimately ends up accepting the Chinese language – unless you make a concerted effort to speak Chinese regularly (and this means approximately 50% of the time) at home.

How do you get children to develop an interest in Chinese, then? Simple. Refrain from any activities that involve learning through mindless repetition (死背), and instead, opt for more interactive formats of learning, such as hosting show and tells in Mandarin, and doing roleplaying exercises. Whilst these will take more effort to plan on your part, they’re significantly more engaging, and will do wonders in helping your child develop a liking for the Chinese language.

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If you want to supplement your efforts at home with Chinese enrichment classes, similarly, make sure you choose an enrichment centre which utilises interactive forms of learning over memorisation and mindless repetition. At KidStartNow, for example, we utilise a gamification system, where kids are given digital coins when they participate in class or do homework. Each student’s score is tallied up on a scoreboard that is displayed in class, and this motivates them to keep participating in an effort to achieve a “high score”.

You’d be surprised at how competitive kids can get, and how effective gamification is in motivating students to fast-track their learning. In fact, this is applicable to not just young children, but students of all ages – with similar gamification being techniques employed by leading US universities such as New York University, University of Michigan and Indiana University.

Remember: you can’t expect your children to have a radical change of heart when it comes to Chinese if you’re still sticking to outdated methods of teaching. Our system has helped over 1000 students and we are so confident in our system that we offer a 30 day full money back guarantee on our enrichment classes. So bring your child down to KidStartNow’s trial class, and you’ll be able to see for yourself.

95+% of children who go for our trial class find it extraordinarily fun and will request to come back for more sessions. Register your child for a slot today!

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