Learning a Second Language- Tips & Tricks

Now that we are too old for our mandarin immersion preschool (we are so sad!), we have to make a lot more of an effort to keep cultivating a love for a second language in our daily lives.  We’ve spoken with friends and it is definitely tough to keep a secondary language going once their children get into elementary school and friends and teachers are only speaking in English. 

Here are some of the things that we’ve done that has helped our family:   

  • Flashcards throughout the house- This helps us work on our vocabulary and allows our son to see written words on a daily basis. We borrowed this from our sons’ school where we saw signs throughout the classroom.  This also helps me learn new words as well! 
  • Weekend language school- We are officially in Chinese School! Virtual for now but eventually in person.  This will give him additional practice and is as a great way to make new language friends. 
  • Grandparents- We have asked his grandparents to only speak with him in Chinese during our weekly calls and to read him books in Chinese when we Facetime. We love this since it allows him to get additional language practice with native speakers and a great relationship builder with his grandparents. 
  • Videos – We try to watch any and all cartoons available in Chinese when we do allow screen time. He of course loves videos and this allows us to sneak in more language practice. 
  • Music- We have a CD player (yes, they still sell them 😊) and our son likes to pop in CDs while he’s playing around the house. We also try to listen to songs in the car. 
  • Reading- We love reading in our household so we try to incorporate both Chinese & English books during our evening story time. The tough part is finding new books!  We try to stock up when we go overseas or have relatives bring them over when visiting.  Our local library also has some decent options as well. 
  • Everyday Conversation- We definitely have to make this a priority since he’s not hearing and conversing in Chinese every day any longer at school. My husband uses Chinese with him and we’ve also have been trying to learn new characters every day.    
  • Reward Chart for learning- To incentivize him and make things more fun while trying to learn new words each day, we have a sticker reward chart setup to give out prizes after learning 5 new characters. Five days seems to be short enough to make prizes seem attainable but also long enough so we’re not giving out prizes every day! 
  • Games- We created a Chinese number bingo game to get some fun practice in and want to create one for our new characters shortly. We make him call out the numbers so he can get additional practice. 

Flashcards throughout the house tiny sponge

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