When looking for Chinese or Korean classes for your child, you might be picturing a room with desks arranged in neat rows. However, the best language immersion opportunities could be through “extracurricular activities” that might surprise you.
With many programs closed due to the pandemic, distance learning and virtual classes have become more accessible to families with internet. This is especially helpful for families who normally don’t have local language learning opportunities.
I’m going to share a few non-traditional “language lessons” that my Chinese-Korean-American kids have tried. I will also suggest other classes on our wish list.
I first published this article in 2019, and I’m updating this post due to share new resources that we explored during distance learning. See original Facebook discussion here.
Classes that focus on Chinese and Korean speaking instead of reading and writing
If you can find extracurricular activities held in Chinese or Korean, you’re killing 2 birds with 1 stone. Hands up if you want to save time plus maximize the experience of speaking minority languages!
These non-academic classes focus on listening and speaking language skills rather than reading and writing.
Furthermore, unique hands-on experiences are one of the key steps to acquiring second languages. In order to keep up with the dominant language, new memories must be made in the minority language.
5 fun, non-academic Chinese and Korean classes for kids
Take a look through these non-academic Chinese and Korean classes, and explore 10+ ways to find a language teacher for your child. You might discover more learning options for your child.
1. Music lessons in Chinese or Korean
Does your child play an instrument, or are you considering starting lessons?
You can email your local colleges and check classified ads for bilingual teachers who offer private or group instrument lessons.
My daughter has been taking piano lessons from Chinese teachers who speak Mandarin fluently. Previously, she took in-person lessons during which the piano teacher took notes in Chinese and gave my daughter a chance to read handwriting. Here are other options worth looking into:
- Kids Go Mandarin is a program for children 6 years and under to learn Mandarin Chinese through music.
- VIP Peilian is another resource for Mandarin-speaking families looking for help with instrument practice, such as the piano or guzheng! We have not had a chance to use this resource, but another mom Lydia, recommended their affordable service to me. Please note that the website is in Chinese.
- If you speak Cantonese, my friend Diana’s family has been enjoying classes with Locy Lee Learning.
Singing camps and children’s choirs
Older kids may enjoy K-pop music theory classes by Olive Tree Education!
2. Arts and crafts in Chinese and Korean
Art classes in Chinese
- Bilin Academy 彼邻画社 is a online program that connect students with various art teachers in Mandarin Chinese or English. My son is a fan of their art classes while my daughter loves their calligraphy class. Bilin also offers lessons for the popular Chinese game, Go! You can read my review of Bilin Academy in this post.
- Hanwen School has various art classes and calligraphy in Mandarin Chinese.
- West California Academy of Art and Design offers programs for children of all ages (preschool through high school).
- If you can read Chinese, other parents have recommended art lessons with 美术宝 (Meishubao).
Art classes in Korean
For online Korean art lessons, some parents recommended that we check out Ju Art Paint And Draw!
Crafts and activities in Chinese and Korean
If you can’t find a local art teacher who speaks Chinese or Korean, you can ask your teacher to explore our fun Hands-on Activities Library! Many teachers use our resources to create lessons plans for their students. 🙂
3. Dance lessons in Chinese and Korean
American metropolitan cities offer a variety of Chinese dance classes which is great for exposing kids to culture. Some of these classes are taught in Mandarin while others are in English.
- Ah-Lan Dance (El Cerrito)
- Chinese Dance USA (Cupertino)
- Hanwen School (Berkley)
- Mandarin Arts Studio (Encino)
- Chinese Dance Theater (Twin Cities)
- Melody Institute (Seattle)
- Phoenix Chinese Dance Academy (Phoenix)
Traditional Korean dance lessons can be found in Los Angeles and New York City, while Kpop studios are popping up all over the country due to growing popularity!
4. Sports camps in Chinese and Korean
Check if local Chinese and Korean immersion programs offer sports camps (eg, soccer, basketball, baseball) with bilingual coaches.
Martial arts are also an important part of Chinese and Korean culture.
Taekwondo is Korea’s traditional martial art that teaches self-defense. Through this sport, you can learn about Korean culture, count in Korean, and see if your local Taekwondo master will teach the class in Korean.
For Chinese learners, consider Kung Fu and Tai Chi classes! Examples include:
5. Cooking lessons in Chinese and Korean
Before the pandemic, we had reserved one Chinese lesson to make authentic Chinese food (eg, dumplings, garlic rice) with our teacher!
Cooking is an important practical life skill, and the multi-sensory experience naturally broadens vocabulary and comprehension.
You can ask your teacher if they would be willing to talk through basic cooking techniques, utensils, ingredients, nutrition, recipes, and kitchen safety.
Here are some online Chinese cooking classes that we have bookmarked to explore in the future:
Keep an open mind with non-academic Chinese and Korean classes
I hope some of these fun Chinese and Korean classes will be available in your area or virtually!
If you travel to Asia, look for programs that offer art, music, dance, sports, and cooking!
Call or email teachers to see if they are open to these person or virtual learning ideas. A trial lesson is also important to confirm that they will use the target language consistently during class.
What if you can’t find any Chinese or Korean teachers in your area?
Thanks to modern technology, Chinese and Korean online tutoring programs could be great options for your family.
Online language tutors may offer more flexibility, especially those who live in small towns with limited cultural opportunities.
Has your child tried non-academic Chinese and Korean lessons? How was the experience?
Has your child enjoyed learning Chinese and Korean language and culture outside of traditional classrooms?
How did the class impact his or her minority language skills?
Please share your recommendation and experience in the comments below!