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Can Your Child Learn Chinese On-Line?

Updated on December 30, 2010

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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    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

      Heidi, thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Heidy Spurrell 7 years ago

      For anyone interested in learning Chinese on an iPhone for kids, I wanted to share this. I just launched my app Chinese for Munchkins. If you have kids, they will love it! Check it out:

      Thanks, Heidy

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks again, Neil.

    • Neil Ashworth profile image

      George Poe 8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Excellent !!! Love it..

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks, Neil.

    • Neil Ashworth profile image

      George Poe 8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Nice hub. Some good information here. Thanks for the info..

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

      Dao Hoa, learning Chinese seems very hard if you are not used to a tone language, and also if you are not young anymore and are less flexible in picking up a new language. I wasn't able to learn it properly, because I was nearly forty when I started trying. For children and young people, it should be much easier.

      I, too, thought I would have trouble learning to read the characters, but that turned out to be the easiest part! Every character stands for a morpheme, and it has a component that gives you a clue as to how it is to be pronounced. Since many lexemes are composed of more than one morpheme, the most common characters recur often and they are not hard to learn to recognize. For me, what was hard was pronouncing them properly!

      However, if you already speak a tone language, then this part will be easy for you!

    • Dao Hoa profile image

      Dao Hoa 8 years ago

      Thanks for this hub. I heard about learning Chinese online before. I should check this out. I always like to learn Chinese, but I think it is too hard to remember too many characters.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

      Mayhmong, thanks. I wish we could all get together and take some lessons. It's hard to do this long distance.

    • mayhmong profile image

      mayhmong 8 years ago from North Carolina

      Wish I can learn some lessons too!

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 9 years ago from The Ozarks

      Thanks, June. We will follow the link.

    • June Sun profile image

      June Sun 9 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Aya, this site will be very useful for Sword:

    • fishskinfreak2008 profile image

      fishskinfreak2008 9 years ago from Fremont CA

      Useful information