The 5 Questions: How do you inspire your children to learn a new language?
Profile: Tina and daughters Virginia (6 ½), Cecilia (4), Tabatha (7 months)
Location: San Francisco
Native language: English
Language children learn with Mom: Mandarin Chinese
What is your favorite activity that helps Virginia, Cecilia and Tabatha learn Chinese?
Virginia and Cecilia go to Chinese immersion school (approx. 50% English / 50% Chinese). In order to reinforce it at home, we sing songs together, which is a great way to learn. We also make an activity out of teaching a few chinese words to baby Tabatha: Virginia and Cecilia play the Chinese teachers.
What is a helpful tool you use?
DVDs in Chinese. I bought Dora in Chinese, the girls love it.
What is your #1 challenge?
Staying vigilant and reminding myself to speak in Chinese to them. It is easy for me to put it aside, since I am more comfortable speaking in English than in Chinese.
What helps you overcome it?
The involvement and support of my family.
My parents come over twice or three times a year and speak exclusively in Chinese to the children. They could speak to them in English, but I asked them just to stick with Chinese.
My husband does not speak Mandarin, but he took a few basic courses. So he is also able to give basic directions to the kids ("let’s go to bed", "let’s brush the teeth", "let’s eat", etc.). We made a joint decision that having the children learn Chinese was important, so he is very supportive.
Any advice you have for other parents?
Make it fun
Stay vigilant and put your own time into it
Supplement with schooling