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Y

es, you CAN help your child love reading in             
Chinese. Here's how.                

 
by: Dr Chung Tzemin, Education Scientist, CommonTown Pte Ltd
13 November 2018
As parents, we do our best to not only give our children what they need, but also to make them happy. Their happiness is our happiness! Anything that stresses them stresses us out, too—including “having to” learn Chinese for kids.  

What can you do when you know your schoolgoing child has to learn Mandarin, but he just doesn’t seem interested? Or, she might find it boring or difficult, and be discouraged by the extra effort she has to put in compared to her other subjects at school.

Don’t give up—there are ways in which you, as a parent, can help your child develop a Chinese reading habit like no one else can. The bond between kids and their mums or dads is especially powerful in learning Chinese for children, and is the secret to sharing many happy and tender moments “wanting to” read in Chinese, together.

If Mandarin isn’t your first language, or you don’t speak it very well yourself, parents could use this time as an opportunity to keep your child company, cheer each other on and learn together.

Regular reading together can foster a love for learning the language.

No one knows your child better than you do—the games he likes to play, her favourite after-school snack, which superhero he wants to be or what colour she likes to wear the most. This “insider information”, which teachers or tutors don’t always have access to, gives you an edge in making Chinese reading a fun experience your child can look forward to.

Because the reading experience hinges on what you read together, use what you know about your child to choose the Chinese stories for kids that will best suit their interests or personalities as well as how well they can read already. If your child likes pets, for instance, you might choose the 小花猫 series.

Be sure not to force your kids to read, and to also let them choose the Chinese children’s books they want to read. After choosing the books, set aside a regular time for reading in Chinese

Deciding on the time together with your child can help make it more agreeable to them instead of simply dictating when reading time is going to be. 

If you can arrange it so that you’ll be reading during a relaxing time such as before going to sleep or during the weekends, your child will come to associate Chinese reading with fun rather than something forced. 

Once you’ve chosen when your reading time is going to be, make sure you stick to it, because repetition is a powerful way to form a Chinese reading habit. As a parent, it’s up to you to set a good example for your children—if they see that you are able to keep up a routine, they’ll be inspired to “read every day until I’m as good as you”. 

Parents can also be good role models when they themselves read, or try to learn to read regularly.

Reading in Chinese can be a real treat!

You may not know that you are a natural performer, but most parents are without them being aware of it, e.g. speaking in a deep, growly voice when mimicking a bear, for instance, or making whooshing sounds when describing the wind blowing through the mountains. Before you know it, storytelling comes naturally to you.

There are additional ways for you to make every Chinese reading time a truly enjoyable experience for your child.
  • Try telling the story as though it had actually happened to you (or someone you know). When you tell the story, your child will get excited and want to know the ending. You can then tell the child that it’s actually a story from the book, and proceed to read the book together with your child. 
  • Make the story an interactive experience—instead of simply telling the story, encourage your child to take part by making sound effects, perhaps, or even acting out certain parts of it. For extra practice, we’ll share ways to talk about the story in our next post.
  • Make it not just reading time, but bonding time—there’s a world of difference between just giving your children Chinese story books to read, and actually staying to read these stories with them. Even if Mandarin isn’t your first language, or you don’t speak it very well yourself, use this time as an opportunity to cheer each other on and learn together.

These supportive words, along with appreciative smiles or reassuring hugs can go much farther in reinforcing and retaining what your child learns during reading time than rote learning or forced memorisation ever could. Even just a pat on the back, simply squeezing his shoulder or taking a different, less harsh approach can help work wonders.

Get real help from an online Chinese reading platform.

After all, what child is there these days that can resist digital media? Reading children’s short stories online therefore makes perfect sense. Specifically designed so that Chinese is made easy for kids, such a platform gives parents like you easy access to Chinese short stories with Pinyin and other fun, language-learning activities.

A good online Chinese reading platform integrates powerful tools for helping your child to learn effectively even while enjoying the stories and lessons. Thanks to today’s technology, a click is all it takes to look words up in an online dictionary, listen to narration, find Pinyin references, play games and answer quizzes.

At Dudu, we’ve created our adaptive Chinese reading programme based on CommonTown’s 18 years of experience in developing edu-tech products. More than 450 schools, educational institutions and corporations use CommonTown’s educational solutions which, after gaining recognition in Singapore, are now expanding into Southeast Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Like you, Dudu knows that your child’s needs are unique , and can’t be generalised according to age or grade level. As such, our framework assesses your child’s true reading ability, and provides reading materials to match.

With beautifully illustrated stories featuring friendly animals, cheerful companions, bustling towns and the wonders of nature, you’re sure to find eBooks that your child will love to read with you over and over again. Sign up for Dudu now and get started on forming a reading habit that will lead to a true love of the Chinese language in your child, today.