Summer is already here…which means an abundance of sun, picnics, water sports and of course, lots of fun! However, with this also comes the worry that children will forget about their Mandarin Chinese language learning that us parents have worked so hard to maintain. Do not fret, we are here to tell you that children can have a splendid summer whilst continuing to learn Mandarin Chinese! We have curated for you a list of top 10 fun activities you can do with your child today.
1. Dance to a Chinese playlist
It is always good to exercise during the summer, now that children finally have some time off! Why not dance to some Mandarin Chinese songs in the background? Some parents may think that this is passive learning and children will not actually absorb the words, however, it can actually be a super effective way of memorising information. Parents can try to dedicate certain dance moves to certain words so that every time children think of the dance moves, they can relate it back to the new words they have learnt. This association technique is a well-known phenomenon for memorisation. Here is an example of a playlist you could use for your child.
2. Singing in Mandarin Chinese
Singing songs that are upbeat and that have a recognisable tune can help children to cement their articulation and pronunciation of words. Parents can also sing popular Mandarin songs to their children or have a little Mandarin Chinese family karaoke session. Here is a jolly playlist of sing-along songs for children.
3. Make some Chinese friends
Although the pandemic has limited our opportunities to travel and learn about new cultures, it does not mean that we cannot gain exposure to Mandarin Chinese through meeting and conversing with some Chinese friends! How about having a summer pen pal? ‘Global pen friends’ is full of children wanting to meet others around the world, many of whom speak and write in Mandarin. You can also find pen pals based on their age or region they are in.
4. Watch Chinese movies and TV shows
What better time to binge-watch Netflix shows together as a family than when children are free during their holidays? Watching shows is a fantastic way to pick up pronunciation and articulation, not to mention learn about different cultures too. If you are not sure which shows would be developmentally appropriate or suitable for your children, you can head onto our other blog ‘Top 10 Chinese TV Shows for Mandarin Learning (For your children and the whole family!)’ to learn more.
5. Read Chinese comics and books together
Similar to watching Chinese movies and TV shows, we suggest that parents spend this quality time reading Chinese books together with their children. If children are bored of reading text-heavy material, you can do a family trip of heading to the library or bookstore together to locate some interesting Chinese comics to read together. There are also many audiobooks available on different apps for children to listen to which will help improve their pronunciation of Mandarin Chinese words.
6. Camping with Chinese Games
I am not sure about you, but this is definitely one of my favourite past times! Camping is always an enjoyable, wholesome outdoor activity to do with friends and family. It is a great way to experience nature and teach children the names of different flowers, plants, insects and animals in Mandarin Chinese. To maximise their language learning in this environment, you can even bring Chinese flashcards and boardgames to play in your tent. For ideas, you can check out our set of carefully curated and hand-illustrated Bilingual A-Z cards here.
7. Cooking Chinese food together
It is not a summer without some creativity! Why not pick some traditional Chinese recipes to cook with the family? Parents can print recipes written in Chinese and speak to children using instructional Mandarin Chinese. Children will learn lots of new terms and vocabulary in the process, and also gain some functional cooking skills along the way too! They can also follow YouTube recipes with you to improve their oral, listening and language comprehension skills.
8. Change the language on your technological devices
It is inevitable that children will have some screen time throughout the summer. To facilitate their learning, parents can change the language on their phones to Mandarin Chinese so that they effortlessly pick up new words while they are at it. You can even change this on your laptop screens. Children may struggle with this at first, but will learn the words ‘send, exit, next, delete’ etc very quickly.
9. Downloading Mandarin Chinese learning games
Following the topic of screen time, there are many effective language learning apps tailored for children specifically. With these, you won’t have to worry about your child seeing inappropriate content or ads, or playing dangerous online games. Bilingual Chinese learning apps such as Miaomiao’s Chinese for kids or Hao-Ming Yeh can allow children to learn vocabulary based on themes such as nature or animals. They are designed for children aged 3-8 and are suitable for parents who may not be native speakers of the language as children navigate these apps themselves.
10. A trip to the park or zoo
Language learning can be a walk in the park…quite literally! Parents can bring children to parks to stimulate their senses and teach them the names of different animals in Mandarin Chinese. To take this a step further, children can take pictures of the things they see, print these pictures out and document them in Mandarin Chinese as part of a little journal they keep. Kowloon Park is full of plants, different bird species and even flamingos that children will be excited to see.