Can Your Child Learn Chinese On-Line?
My daughter and I lived in Taiwan for the first two years of her life. At the time, she had a Chinese nanny and was fluent in Mandarin, at least as fluent as a normal two year old can be. When she was throwing a tantrum, her favorite words were: "Bu yao!" This was even though I spoke Hebrew with her. She did not learn English until she was three years old and went to pre-school in the U.S.
When we first moved here, I wanted to keep my daughter's Chinese alive. At home we spoke Hebrew. Outside the home, everyone spoke English. I searched in vain for Chinese speakers for my daughter to interact with, but we live in a secluded, rural community, and none were to be found. My daughter's memories of Taiwan gradually grew dim, till she could barely remember that we ever lived there.
By now she has forgotten all her Chinese. But is it too late? My daughter is nine years old, and we are planning to have her take lessons on-line from an old friend from Taiwan.
Lai Ya Lai Kan Hai
My friend will tutor my daughter in conversation, culture and reading and writing. My friend's younger daughter will join in the lessons, for added interest.
Is it hard to learn a language that doesn't use the Latin alphabet? Not as hard as you might think. There are several different ways to teach people how to pronounce Chinese characters. Some of these methods are merely romanizations, called various kinds of pinyin. We have chosen for my daughter to study zhuyin, commonly known as bo po mo fo. The advantage to this system is that it does not confuse a child who is used to English or some other European language, and therefore has associated the Latin letters with the specific sounds of another language. What does bo po mo fo look like? A sample is shown below.
Bo Po Mo Fo
Watching TV and Movies for Fluency
Another way to keep fluent in a language that you have had access to abroad is to keep watching TV and movies from the country where the language is spoken, even when you no longer live there. In the US, it has hard to have access to Chinese television and movies, but now you can do so through TaiSeng.
There is nothing like watching episode after episode of serial TV shows to keep the fluency up.
Copyright Aya Katz
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