Learning a new language is no easy feat; teaching one at home is a significant undertaking. If you want to start teaching Chinese from the comfort of your home, there are many resources at your disposal to help you overcome challenges you may face and improve the experience for you and your students.
Create a Curriculum
Whether you are fully homeschooling your child or helping them learn Chinese in addition to their state-guided school programs, you need an action plan. Language acquisition requires structure. Lesson plans must be based on specific learning objectives to make the language more digestible and encourage long-term retention. If the idea of creating a course curriculum leaves you feeling lost with no direction, you’re not alone. There are plenty of accessible tools and support systems that can give you a starting point.
You might pull from online resources like published lesson plans and YouTube videos from certified teachers and language experts or Chinese language textbooks. All learning programs break down the acquisition process because you cannot tackle an entire language at once. Established learning materials will give you ideas for what units go together. You’ll likely notice they categorize lessons by topics like grocery shopping, clothes, school, and travel. Within these topics, lessons range from vocabulary word-matching activities to stories and writing exercises. Focusing on smaller-scale learning objectives makes language acquisition less overwhelming and more rewarding since it’s easier to gauge progress and learn from mistakes.
One of the benefits of teaching Chinese at home is that you get to take what you want from these materials and customize your approach based on your student’s needs. Don’t be afraid to change your plan once you’ve set it in motion. Learning languages is partly about trial and error, and it’s more effective to adapt your strategies based on learner experiences and proficiency levels than it is to strictly adhere to a curriculum.
Make Learning Personal
Learning of any kind requires intrinsic and external motivators. You can set up a rewards system to track your student’s progress and encourage their engagement, but they need more than gold stars to embrace and enjoy learning Chinese.
Many educational systems promote rote learning. They use repetition and drills to help students remember lessons. While this is effective insofar as the short-term acquisition is concerned, it doesn’t lead to long-term retention unless learning becomes meaningful. For example, if a student shows an affinity for anime and wants to draw manga, they will likely have a strong motivation to engage in a Japanese learning program.
You can help your student uncover their reasons for wanting to learn Chinese. Pinpoint specific benefits that matter to them. Use real-world examples they can relate to and choose entertainment in the target language. When learners listen to music and audiobooks and watch shows in Chinese, they’re increasing their exposure to and familiarity with the vocabulary, grammatical structures, and nuances while having fun.
Invest in a Tutor
Language learning requires consistency. You can increase the learner’s exposure to the target language. You might create a chore chart on which you write activities and names in Chinese or hang artwork and decorative signs with Chinese characters and phrases around your home. You can fill your bookshelves with reading materials in Chinese and use the language frequently in your conversations. However, you may not have the time or space to teach the curriculum necessary to promote language fluency on your own.
Thankfully, there are several options for tutors and learning software. They can provide group or one-on-one guidance with structured, interactive lesson plans you can build into your schedule. Students benefit from the accountability and fun that comes with having a designated language teacher.
Make Learning Consistent
Curriculums and targeted lesson plans are critical to language acquisition, but you can’t overlook the efficacy and benefits of making Chinese a part of your daily routines. As you play family games and create grocery lists using Chinese, you increase familiarity with the language while taking the pressure off the need to learn. You act as one another’s support systems and make core memories using the target language. Everyone needs breaks from school (teachers and students!), but that doesn’t mean you can’t make language learning an integral part of your lives.
If you’re about to launch into teaching Chinese at home or in the middle of your curriculum and are in need of additional guidance, let these tips and tools guide you and your students on the language-learning journey.