Sunday, May 8, 2011

How to tackle teaching a second language when you don't speak any other langauges!

Hi Everyone,

It has been a long time since I posted but I am back I have been busy laminating and making flashcards presentations for my little ones and they take a long time to make.

So what have I been doing in this time with my little ones, well I have undertaken the task of introducing a second language. The second language I have chosen is simplified Mandarin Chinese. Why have I taken on this task? You might say I am a glutton for punishment! You would probably be close to right but I was given some DVD's to try by a friend and my Daughter loved them soo much I ended up buying the complete set and I have not looked back.

I also have other reasons for wanting to teach Chinese and it is not the first time this has crossed my mind. I have wanted to teach a second language since DD1 was born but I have always felt daunted by the task as I speak no other languages other than English and even my English could do with some improving at times.

My other reasons for wanting to teach Chinese are
1. It is the world's most spoken language (with over 1Billion people speaking Chinese)
2. They are the world's next economic power and Australia will continue to have a very strong relationship with them and I think for future job prospects of my children it will help if they have an understanding of this language.
3. It is a very different language from our own. Chinese is a tonal language with four main tones and if you get a tone wrong you can change the whole meaning of what you are trying to say. Chinese does not have a lot of words like English does.
4. The Chinese people claim they have the highest rate in the world of people with perfect pitch (The ability to hear a sound a be able to tell what key it is in) I would like to train my daughter's ear especially if they take up music at a later stage.

Any hoo. So now that I have taken on the task of teaching my daughters' Chinese. You may be asking how I am going about this.

As I mentioned before I have bought a DVD set called Baby Learns Chinese ( I have bought the first 6 DVDs and I plan on getting the phonics set later once I know that DD1 has a good understanding of the Chinese language. She loves these DVDs so much that she asks for them all the time and if I am not careful she would gladly sit in front of the t.v. all day and watch them. They have the right balance of cartoon and real life images with children as well as songs to gr child get your child off to a good start. I bought the packs that came with the Flashcards to be honest I think the flashcards could be better made with the simplified characters on the front with the pinyin tones on the back so you could read the card out to the child then have a slide come out of the picture. Except the cards have Simplified Chinese on the front with the pinyin tone (an English translation on how the characters are pronounced) underneath in small writing. Since I am learning myself how to read the characters I find I fall back to reading the pinyin which my daughter sees and she to reads the pinyin instead of the characters.

I have also bought a few Chinese CD's to play to DD1 at night time for her to listen to while going to sleep. She has come out with a few Chinese words not many and I have no idea how much she has taken in but you do need to immerse yourself in a language as much as you can so I continue to keep this up.

I have a digital Flashcard programme called Little Reader ( and I have both the English and the Chinese versions of this programme and she loves it. My DD1 did the English programme and has enjoyed and I have had great results with it. My DD2 is now doing the programme and enjoying it, plus she is being exposed to a lot of Chinese words as well as English to. My DD2 is 5 months old and is too young to see any results yet. The main thing with her is making sure she gets a lot of enjoyment out of it.

Through the power of the Internet I have also started making my own cards and sticking them up around the house in an effort to immerse the kids and myself in Chinese and I hope I will absorb some more Chinese I also find that writing the character myself helps me understand the language so much more.

I have ordered a manual for teaching Chinese to pre-schoolers from My Montessori House ( I have not received it yet and I am looking forward to using it to teach myself and my DD's more of this fascinating language. I will give a very honest review of the manual once I have had some time to use it.

My results so far. Well, I have to say that My DD1 would easily know 100 Chinese words from the DVDs. She is getting better with the characters but her love of learning this language will help and she is always asking me what is this word in Chinese and what is that word. She also likes to correct my tones when I get it wrong. :)

Well from one Mummy to another.
Good Night, and Happy Teaching

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kimba,
    I just found your blog on the brillkids forum and I'm beginning to read through it. I really like what I'm reading and you know what, your blog looks a lot like mine ;)
    Will you be addind more content soon? I would love to read more!
    Adina @