I am a busy working mom who is teaching my children Chinese, but I am neither fluent nor formally trained as a teacher. My husband and I are also relatively private on social media. I’ve blogged quietly about our Chinese learning journey over the past few months, and I am nervous about putting myself out there on the world-wide web.
So…why am I blogging about something outside of my comfort zone and realm of expertise?
When my 老大 (lǎodà / oldest child) was 2 years old, I knew that I wanted to teach her Chinese. Since we don’t have any immersion schools, I would have to teach her Chinese at home.
Initially, I had NO idea where to begin.
Countless hours of internet research yielded limited results. I found flashcards, Chinese New Year crafts, and YouTube videos with sketchy commercials. Since the internet is saturated with English teaching tips and engaging activities, I was worried that our lack of Chinese resources would be a big obstacle. My daughter was very resistant to learning Chinese; English is our family language, and Chinese was neither relevant nor interesting to her initially.
After searching high and low and finding few websites dedicated to simple and fun, hands-on Chinese activities, I buckled down and created my own. Our activities encourage speaking, character recognition, and reading practice in a playful, memorable way. Because of these activities, my daughter started reading short Chinese stories at age 3-and-a-half, and she embraces speaking and being Chinese! Most importantly, my daughter and I have a developed a special bond with Chinese language.
Even though Chinese learning has been a huge undertaking and blogging adds extra work, sometimes I feel doubtful and overwhelmed, and I need to remind myself about the big picture. Here of my 6 main reasons for starting this blog about Chinese education!
I remember how isolated I felt when I started to teach my children Chinese. We live in a small, non-diverse town, and I wish there was a bustling community of parents with similar goals. I’m thankful for amazing support from Facebook groups, but I know there must be other parents outside of Facebook feeling as lost as I did.
I want to learn from other parents and their challenges and successes.
I want to connect with parents who are unsure about where to begin or whether it’s worth continuing.
We all turn to the Internet when searching for ideas and resources. Many parent and teacher blogs have been generous with sharing, and I want to pay it forward by sharing our favorite projects, teaching tips, and Chinese resources. Sharing is caring! If it benefits your family, that means more kids will be learning Chinese and become potential future multilingual friends for everybody!
This blog has enabled me record our progress and build a visual library of our past activities, organized by subject. I’ve done so many activities with 老大, and I will refer to this website when I plan activities for 老二.
I want to document our family’s language journey – our memories, challenges, and successes. My parents passed away when I was in my twenties, and there are so many things I don’t remember that wish I could ask them about their life in China and raising their children in the United States. When my children are older, I hope they can enjoy reviewing this journal of their childhood multilingual and multicultural learning experience!
5. Defy stereotypes
Asian Americans need more positive representation on the Internet and in the real world. A quick Google search shows several news outlets (eg, here, here, and here) reporting that Chinese education “remains exam-oriented, relying on rote memorization and mechanical drills.” We need more voices showing that we can be creative, compassionate, and successful! I am energized and motivated to be part of the conversation.
Although I’m no expert at teaching Chinese and my proficiency is limited, my daughter has achieved language milestones that I never dreamed could happen. Many people are shocked when they hear her speak and read Chinese because she sounds more natural than me! So I hope this website will empower families to have the courage to raise multilingual children despite any personal challenges!
If my daughter can learn Chinese with a smile, yours can too!
Please let me know what challenges you are struggling with as a parent of bilingual/ multilingual child. Even if it’s a small thing – I would like to hear about it. I will do my best to find a solution for you here!
RECOMMENDED ARTICLES ABOUT HOW TO TEACH KIDS CHINESE
- Tips on creating a Chinese learning environment at home
- Teach Your Child a Second Language at Home with 5 Key Steps
- Raising Multilingual Children as a Non-Fluent Parent: 7 Lessons Learned in 2018
- How To Get Your Child To Speak the Minority Language
- Encourage A Child to Love and Speak the Minority Language with 5 Strategies
- How to Find a Foreign Language Teacher for Your Child
- 5 Reasons Books are the Best Gifts for Multilingual Kids
- Teaching kids how to read Chinese