Chinese vocabulary is the basic building block for Chinese fluency. Characters and words carry meanings. Without them, we simply cannot communicate in Chinese. To help non-Chinese native kids improve Chinese fluency, we need to help them remember (and use) more Chinese words.
How to Help Non-Chinese-Native Kids Remember New Chinese Vocabulary? Here are 5 tips:
1. Teach Chinese Vocabulary in Context
Is it OK to provide a list of isolated or unrelated words for kids to learn? The answer is NO. The words should be introduced within the context of a situation, activity, story, or any context your kiddos are familiar with.
For example, it’s totally OK to teach students Chinese words related to food with images. It would be even better if we can connect the food in pictures to food the kids actually eat. We can find some images of dinners in different countries and ask the kids what dishes they have at dinner at home. Then we can teach them the food shown in the pictures. What food have they tasted before, what food would they like to try? If “面条 noodles” is the word, they will most likely remember it.
2. Use Pictures and Visuals
Words disappear if they are only spoken. Kids may understand the Chinese words, but their minds are quickly filled with other thoughts. Visuals, on the other side, are processed differently by our brain. They tend to stick, no matter if the kids are visual learners or not.
If appliable, always uses flashcards, posters, images, or figures when introducing new Chinese words. Use them again when revisiting or testing the words the kids have learned.
3. Repetition at Right Timing
Researches have shown repetition is the key to memory. Spaced repetition systems can help increase knowledge retention to a great extent. It is important to repeat or practice a new set of Chinese words immediately after being introduced to them. Then repetition should follow at progressively longer intervals. That means, in order to ensure that kids remember the Chinese words, they must use them again and again.
For example, we can try the following repetition schedule:
Practice new Chinese words immediately after the introduction
Use them again one hour later (review at the end of the class)
Use the words again one day later
Review the words one week later
Review/Test one month later
If you’re interested in using Spaced Repetition System and help your kids learn basic Chinese vocabulary, check out our Chinese Vocabulary Made Easy Program.
4. Organize Chinese Word into Word Clusters
Word clusters are great for kids to create and see the relationship among words. For any set of new Chinese words, create a word cluster together to help the kids realize the links between the words. This is a great basis for them to recreate more word clusters in the future.
Take Chinese words on emotions and feelings, for example, we can first create a word cluster around emotions by writing the word “情绪，感觉” in the center of the cluster. And then invite kids to provide different emotions on different branches, e.g. “害怕“ ”开心“ ”不舒服“ etc. From there, we can even go further by asking them to provide weather vocabulary that might lead to the feelings.
5. Use Chinese Words in Phrases or Collocation
Individual words are important, and it is even more important for kids to remember the phrases and collocation the words are in.
For example, when we teach the word “饭“, we can teach the kids verb-noun combination such as “做饭”, “买饭“, “吃饭”， or “一顿饭”, etc. In such a way, students understand the meaning of “饭” well, they also know when to use it.
Chinese Vocabulary Made Easy Course
If building Chinese vocabulary is the goal, Chinese Vocabualry Made Easy course is a good start for kids. It helps kids master 300 Chinese characters and more than 1000 Chinese words, within a timeframe of 12 weeks. It is a systemetic way for kids to set up a vocabulary net of Chinese word. Have a look if your child is ready.