To be honest, I struggled with Chinese a lot when I was growing up. I grew up speaking mainly English and Cantonese. And the funny thing was that I watched a whole lot of Chinese dramas. But I guess I just wasn’t that big on reading Chinese hence the difficulty in both Primary and Secondary school. Having said that, I think I’m decent when it came to spoken Mandarin.
As I grew older, I understood the importance of the Chinese language especially with the growing China market. I suppose it’s never too late to re-pick up something (even languages) although I’m really rusty at it after all these years.
With this knowledge, I’ve been wanting Junior to show some keenness in the Chinese language. However, I’ve noticed that he has zero interest in it (perhaps also due to us speaking to him mainly in English) and perhaps a little averse to it too.
While I think there are many schools of thought out there, we don’t intend to go the extreme and start speaking to him in Mandarin. But I do think there is a need for some balance. Balance from exposing him to singing Chinese nursery rhymes, reading Chinese books and even watching cartoons in Mandarin. It does help that the school dedicate days to having lessons in Chinese, in hope that through all these interventions he will be less averse to learning the language. And that it will help him in the long run.
I’m always big on making learning fun because I really wasn’t one of those kids that grew up attending lots of enrichment classes and honestly at 3, I really want him to have a semblance of a childhood before Primary school starts. I’ve heard good things about flash cards and my mother in law uses a deck with Junior when she was looking after him when he was much younger. I was trying to look for a set that was interesting and has the ability to pique his interest. However, I just wasn’t able to find what I was looking for.
So I decided to make my own.
I knew he would appreciate The Hungry Caterpillar because that’s one of the early stories he came to love. So anything with The Hungry Caterpillar is bound to resonate with him. Next, I scour the internet (Pinterest specifically) for pictures, printed them out, coloured them and stuck them to flash cards. Completed with writing down colours and the animals in both English and Mandarin.
And the outcome, you may ask. I wouldn’t say he was 100% thrilled that it was a lesson in Chinese/Mandarin but he did finds it easier to associate the language with colours and things that he was familiar with. So whenever we had a chance, I’ll bring these flash cards out for a refresher and also we’ve started playing “name the colour in Chinese”.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to inculcate and ignite more interest in him towards the Chinese language.