I’ve got a question for you: how are you teaching your son Mandarin (assuming that’s what you’re teaching him, rather than Cantonese)? I’m sure you speak it at home, but are you supplementing with anything? I’m trying to find something to help our youngest learn, and am having difficulty finding a good program. Ideally, there would be some sort of interactive computer program. We’ve got plenty of videos, but I’d love something more interactive. -- Washington, USA
Hah! I wish I could say I'm actively teaching my son Mandarin. He just turned one and is on the cusp of speaking, so I know I need to start now and not later if I want him to become bilingual without batting an eye. Raising a bilingual child is easier said than done, especially when immersion isn't an option (yet). For now, our Chinese friends speak to him in Chinese and we get Chinese books from our local library.
Here's some things I looked into and want to start once my son is old enough. You may find these tips helpful too, if you would like your little one to speak Chinese:
There's a ton of options out there, but these two programs won't break the bank.
Little Pim developed this language learning program for kids after she couldn't find high quality resources to teach her son French. Her dad also happens to be Dr. Paul Pimsleur, the creator of the hugely popular audio language learning programs for adults.
From the site:
The Entertainment Immersion Method leads with distinctive fun and high quality, and provides total immersion in the language. The method uses proven repetition techniques that help children retain the new vocabulary.
Pimsleur Levine developed the Little Pim series. We are proud to offer your family a product that you can feel good about using. This is the first foreign language video series to offer a child-friendly immersion method with high production values in several languages. You and your child will learn 60 words you need to know in a foreign language in each DVD – and you’ll have fun in the process. Little Pim is the most comprehensive series available today for introducing a foreign language to young children between the ages of zero and five. The series has won 22 awards, including iParenting, Mom’s Best, Creative Child and Mr. Dad.
Chinese for Smart Kids is a site with videos and books. The animations in videos look bright and include Chinese characters with the lessons.
If I had to choose between the two software programs, I would choose Little Pims. I used the Pimsleur program myself for Chinese and it was really effective.
For older kids, the workbook series Chinese Made Easy for Kids is very well reviewed.
For now, I plan on stocking up on books at ChineseChildbook.com They have a great selection of all kinds of books in Chinese and English. They even have a touch reading pen I may like to play with before my son gets too!
Check it out:
One other thing I'm very pleased about is that Mandarin Immersion programs are becoming more and more popular in the U.S. public schools. Do some research in your home area to see if that's something that's be offered. If it isn't, it might be just a matter of time before it is.
Any other suggestions and tips for teaching kids Chinese are welcome!