When I sit down to think of the resolutions for the next year, I ask myself what I have done right this year and what has been working well. I would like to share with you the 4 strategies which I hope will bring you and your child a successful Chinese learning experience in 2016.
Strategy #1 : Set SMART Goals
You want your child to learn Mandarin Chinese, but what do you want him to achieve? “To become better at Chinese” is a goal that is too broad, without a measurable target. Good goals are SMART:
- Specific – How about “Learn 5 characters per day” instead of “Increase my vocabulary”? Do you want your child to learn Character writing, or simply identifying characters will be enough?
- Measurable – How about noting down the progress on a notebook instead of saying I have learned many things.
- Attainable – Instead of being too ambitious, for example, to read 1000 Chinese books, set the goal as “reading 50 Chinese books” and keep a reading log.
- Relevant – Make the goals relevant, given available resources. Have some experience on Chinese culture such as celebrating Chinese new year is relevant, paying a visit to China is not relevant to many people.
- Time-related – Make short-term goals as well as long-term goals can make the goals more achievable. What can be done in one week? in one month? and in one year?
Strategy #2: Study Chinese Everyday
When learning a new language, our brain needs regular exposure to its sound, look, feel, ideas and concepts. Studies have shown that even 20-30 minutes a day is much more effective than 2-3 hours a time in a week. Constant exposure helps our memories to stay fresh and the content to be retained in our brain.
So putting Chinese in the routine is very important to stay focused.
Strategy #3: Build up Chinese Vocabulary
Like all languages, vocabulary building is vital. To Chinese, it is even more important since there is no alphabet to help memorize the characters. Although some rules can be applied in character memorizing, all Chinese characters have to be studied and memorized at the beginning. This is the foundation of Chinese language learning and the result can be seen soon.
Strategy #4: Practice, Practice, and Practice
Practice makes perfect. Even if mistakes happen during the practice, it is totally normal and acceptable. Keep on talking to people, reading loudly and repeating after recordings… all this practice can sharpen the ears and perfect the pronunciation.
In the new year of Chinese learning, there will be moments of frustration. Break it down into smaller and manageable chunks and put them into your daily routines. Practice and accomplish the tasks every day. Keep a study log of your vocabulary building. Soon you will see rewarding results.
Best wishes to a successful new year of Chinese Learning!