Learning Chinese Tips For Children, Including Pre-schoolers And Toddlers

First things first: Which Chinese to Learn?

Mandarin is the official language of China and Taiwan. It is the dialect of the majority in Mainland China and the Chinese overseas. Cantonese is not as commonly used since Britain?s turnover of Hong Kong to China. It may become a dialect that is used among family and business purposes, Mandarin is more practical to learn. ChildBook has also carried Cantonese products in the past that took forever to sell.

Learning Chinese at Home

A great way to start your children in learning the Chinese Language is through Learn Chinese DVDs and videos and audio CDs. These DVDs are specially designed to optimally expose your child to the tones of Chinese with fun things to watch. The learning pace in DVDs are carefully programmed to help your child remember the words and phrases. Chinese songs on CDs on the other hand, are great to use while travelling or during your child?s relaxation time. For bigger children, Chinese stories on CDs can be played to expose them further to more Chinese vocabulary and sentence construction.

If one parent speaks Chinese, arrangements can be made that 1 parent will speak to the children in Chinese and the other will speak to them in English. Kids have an amazing ability to keep up with each parent?s language.

Exposing Children to Native Chinese Speakers

? Chinese tutors are available to teach children and even the entire family to speak Chinese. Check online or newspaper ads for available tutors.
? Play dates with children who are learning or already know Chinese is a fantastic way to expose your kids.
? Another option is to hire Chinese-speaking baby sitters. Local universities often have students who are half-Chinese or spouses of Chinese. This can be an option you can try.
? Other families get au pairs from China.
? Some families hire Chinese nannies to ensure the children grow up hearing the native Chinese tones. Be careful in the hiring though. Truth to be told, there is a large number of people in the US from China who don’t have the necessary papers but are working as nannies. Nannies also take care of your children, so picking the right person is extremely important, especially if they live with you. Friends of ours have gone through multiple nannies and it was not a good experience.

Learning Chinese Online

There are online Chinese programs available for adult English speakers. So far, ChildBook is not aware if there are any online programs available for English speaking children.

Chinese Private Schools

Traditionally, non-public Chinese schools teach a child the Chinese language when the child is old enough to sit still and copy characters. Most schools still use the method of rote teaching used in China and Taiwan. Children in the US are very independent, therefore the rote method may not be the best way for children to learn the words and characters. Instead, the Montessori or ESL method may be used to interest the kids to learn Chinese. These methods place emphasis on using Chinese in conversation . Other programs that teach using a lot of singing and other fun activities will definitely make children learn Chinese easier.

Summer Camps

Chinese summer camps expose the child to full immersion of the Chinese language. Summer camps may be a weekend trip in the US, a full boarding school stay, or travelling to live for several weeks to China or Taiwan. ChildBook produces the largest list of Chinese summer camps available so stay tuned for updates.

Learn-Chinese Materials

There are a lot of products available in the market to help children learn Chinese. Books, videos, audio CDs/ cassettes and software can be used at home to learn Chinese. These materials not only expose the child to vocabulary or tones, but also show the beauty of Chinese culture. These materials can also be used for parents and children to spend time together.


A big challenge to teaching Chinese from books is that one parent/ adult should know how to read it. For families who are starting to learn from scratch together, bi-lingual books are a big help. Story books that can be read along with audio CDs are useful to learn the proper pronunciation. A great introductory book to reading and writing Chinese characters is Long is the Dragon. For smaller children, I Won?t Bite is a very interesting material. Kids will be able to touch and feel the different types of animal skin textures.


Videos teach through engaging visuals, songs, and repetitive vocabulary. Viewers will also be exposed to how different places and persons look like. In 1 DVD of the Follow Jade series, Teacher Jade goes to a Chinese Kindergarten. Children will be able to compare how their own school and classmates look like. The Bao Bei series has 5 enjoyable videos that teach Chinese vocabulary of a lot of common words. Bao Bei is a panda puppet that children will like to study Chinese words.

Audio CDs

Chinese CDs can be grouped into 2:
? 100{62753bda712f8726ff506772054b8eb8cc86c22a15ff97c29e4cab436a2dfc3b} Chinese songs and stories. Some do not have printed guides, others include a book/ booklet
? Learn-Chinese CDs specifically designed for those learning Chinese as a second language. These CDs usually include books, booklets with Chinese, English and Pinyin. Songs are sung in both Chinese and English, or booklets show the English translations. For example, the songs in Teach Me Chinese Book and CD are popular and sung in both English and Chinese. Parents can also learn songs to sing for their children, such as Happy Birthday. This series also comes with a Teacher Guide. Other Learn-Chinese Book and CD series such as Sing and Learn Chinese Series and Let?s Sing Chinese also engages its listeners with interesting songs.


So far, ChildBook is still waiting for a very highly recommended software that is easy for learners to use.