The Chinese language is used by more people in the world than any other. Many parents want their children to learn Chinese online because they feel it will help them get a head start on a rewarding future. Learning a new language isn’t always easy, and learning Chinese can be more complex than most! Here are some important things to consider when thinking about adding this skill to your family’s repertoire.
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1. Knowing Chinese is a Valuable Skill
It can take a long time to truly master a language as complex as learning Chinese. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you from trying to learn Chinese! With a population of over one billion people, China’s Mandarin language is one of the most spoken in the world. Knowing how to communicate with a huge portion of the population will open up new doors that most people will never even know existed.
2. Chinese is a Tonal Language
In a finely-tuned orchestra, you can immediately tell if someone is playing the wrong notes. Like music, the Chinese language uses inflections to relay a message. Standard Mandarin uses five distinct tones which alter the meanings of words, allowing a single phrase to have multiple meanings. Understanding how to manipulate those tones makes Chinese a difficult language to learn, but a satisfying one to master.
3. Character-Based Writing
The English language uses a modified Latin alphabet, using letters to spell out words and phrases. Chinese Mandarin takes a different approach, using a series of strokes and lines called characters to represent specific words and ideas. This is another reason why it can be a challenge to learn Chinese online since there are so many different characters to memorize. In truth, though there are over 50,000 different ones, most Chinese readers can only identify around 5,000!
4. Stroke Order
There’s more to Chinese writing than simply identifying symbols. The way those characters are scrawled is just as important. While some people who learn Chinese online focus mainly on the characters themselves, other instructors feel learning how to write them, known as the stroke order, will help students remember them more easily. It may be a good idea to try out writing before committing to it as an educational tool depending on your and your child’s learning styles.
5. Learning Pinyin
Being able to translate characters is one thing, but knowing how to say them aloud is another. Luckily, scholars have developed a romanization method for turning Chinese writing into phenomes that English speakers can more easily identify. The pinyin system is an excellent way to learn how to pronounce words by referencing an alphabet that they can readily understand. This is also an excellent resource for helping students read Chinese songs, another excellent tool to help with learning the language.
6. A Family Affair
Learning a new language means practicing all of the time, and your child won’t be able to do that all on their own. The best way to help them get on board with learning Chinese online is to join them in the endeavor! Learning along with your child will help you bond together while also helping to teach them a skill you value. Bring the whole family in on the fun by incorporating Mandarin into dinner conversation or play word games as a group to combine community time with a learning experience.
7. Watching Familiar Shows
Educational materials don’t all have to be Mandarin-to-English dictionaries and flash cards. Watching some of your kids’ favorite movies and shows will help you all learn the language that much faster. There are quite a few Chinese-language cartoons that are either a translation of familiar favorites or selections from the country itself. With so many options available, you’re sure to find a few that both kids and adults can agree on.
8. Immersion Works
Practicing a language is still the best way to learn it. Even if you’re listening alongside your child, they will still need plenty of opportunities to work on their new skills. Find an environment where they can interact with other new language learners so they can practice their Chinese together. Having friends who are already fluent can also help your young one get a handle on the language more quickly than learning Chinese online alone can.
The Tools to Learn Chinese Online
Not every item in your educational toolkit will be a book or a website. It takes more than copying characters for complex learning language such as Chinese. Whether it’s through reading and writing Mandarin, watching your favorite films, or chatting at a Chinese restaurant, using all of the equipment at your disposal will help make Mandarin more than just a second language in your household. It can be a gateway to new and exciting experiences for the whole family!