8 Tips to Improve Mandarin for Toddlers

In Singapore, there’s a strong emphasis on being bilingual. Children are expected to be fluent in both English and Mandarin, especially later on when they enrol in primary school.

In some cases, children start finding Mandarin difficult at the primary school level, probably because they did not have enough exposure to absorb the language during the early years. Learning Mandarin or a second language at a young age offers many benefits for your toddlers that extending beyond linguistic skills.

To provide more opportunities to introduce them to the language, here are some tips.

Start Early with Simple Words and Phrases

Research shows that toddlers are remarkably adept at language learning. Their brains are wired to absorb new sounds and patterns effortlessly. Introducing Mandarin at an early age takes advantage of this natural ability. 

You can start with introducing your child to basic vocabulary, such as colours, numbers, animals, and everyday objects. There are plenty of picture books to engage your child’s curiosity.

Lead by Example

If both parents are fluent in the language, it is best to speak to your child in Mandarin too. In the event that either the mother or the father is better at the language, then it’s best to have that parent speak Mandarin to your child. 

Often, children imitate what they see and hear and are reflections of their parents. Either the mother, father, or both can speak to your child in Chinese and encourage them to reply. This approach allows your toddler to be consistently exposed to the language naturally, and it helps the child develop strong Mandarin language skills.

Fill Your House With The Language

Surround your toddler with the Mandarin language. Play Mandarin music, watch age-appropriate cartoons or videos, and narrate daily activities in Mandarin. The more exposure your child has, the more their language skills will flourish.

Read To Your Child

Choose Chinese storybooks that will appeal to your child. Those with beautiful illustrations that show what new vocabulary words mean will help. This is less formal than a Mandarin class but is an excellent way to help your toddler expand their Chinese vocabulary in an enjoyable manner.

As you read together, let your child immerse themselves in the story, and show that the language is a gateway to stories. The wonderment and imagination your child will experience through the power of the written word will inspire them to love the language.

Consistency is Key

At this age, consistency and repetition is essential when teaching toddlers. Consider enrolling your toddler in Mandarin enrichment classes to provide structured language learning experiences. Additionally, weaving Mandarin in your daily routine can help your child become accustomed to the language. You can set aside a specific time of the day for Mandarin-related activities, such as story time.

Exposing your child daily to the language for a short period of time may help reinforce learning, and perhaps bring some joy to it as well.

Cultural Exploration

Your child may already know some cultural traditions and may have already celebrated Lunar New Year. Making use of moments during Chinese New Year or Dragon Boat Festival to explore the cultural context behind the language adds depth to their learning experience.

Interactive Play and Games

Toddlers learn best through play. Incorporate Mandarin into their playtime activities. 

Use building blocks to teach vocabulary, play hide-and-seek with Mandarin prompts, or engage in role-playing with Mandarin phrases. 

Make learning a fun and enjoyable experience, and your child will naturally become more receptive to the language.

Enrol Your Child in a Mandarin Class

Lastly, it would be helpful to enrol your child in an enrichment programme dedicated to acquiring the language. We recommend our PlayClub programme, which is suitable for toddlers 18 months to 3 years. Through this playgroup, your child will immerse themselves in the wonderful world of Mandarin through stories, puppets, speech and drama activities, art and craft, songs, and healthy snacks.

Each term has a theme, which will introduce young ones to the various vocabulary words and cultivate a love for the language.

Want to know more? Have a look at our Early Learning Programmes here.

Final Notes

Teaching Mandarin to toddlers is an exciting journey that enhances cognitive abilities, cultural awareness, and communication skills. 

With these tips, your toddler can develop a strong foundation in Mandarin that will benefit them for years to come. 

Remember to introduce the language in an engaging manner and to foster a lifelong love for it. Find opportunities to praise your child, as acknowledging every bit of effort they put in will give them the confidence to speak the language. Before you know it, you may just have a learner for life.

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    We have been teaching Mandarin in Singapore for over 20 years and have much experience in supporting parents and children in all aspects of language learning.
    We are happy to help.




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