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    Learning Chinese for the First Time


    10 Aug, 2018

    10 : 00

    • Chinese language learning lies at the very heart of the Yew Chung International School of Beijing curriculum. Students receive Chinese language lessons every day, and throughout ECE and Primary, lessons are co-taught with one Chinese and one English-speaking teacher. It means that our students achieve a very high standard of Chinese by the time they reach the end of school – with this year more than half of our students taking the bilingual IB Diploma in Year 13.

      As we approach the start of the school year, the Chinese team are preparing to welcome new students who have never studied the language before. Ms April Peng, Primary Chinese Coordinator, offers some advice to those who will be learning Chinese from scratch.

      Don’t panic!

      Chinese is a very different language to English and other Western languages. Sounds are new, the character system is new, it can all feel very strange! But don’t worry – our Chinese as an Additional Language (CAL) teachers are incredibly experienced. They know what it’s like to start from scratch, and they will provide students with all the help and support they need. Being surrounded by Chinese, students pick up the language quickly and it is a pleasure to watch them grow in ability and confidence.

      Find your voice

      Encourage your child to take advantage of living in China by practising their Chinese in real life. Speaking in the classroom is different to speaking to a Chinese neighbour or shopkeeper, and it is very beneficial if students can learn to converse in real situations. Ask your child to tell the taxi driver where to go, say good morning to your neighbours, and ask how much something costs in the shops. Practising simple vocabulary and phrases with Chinese people will help them find their confidence.

      Use online materials

      There are many websites and apps that help with Chinese learning.

      Chineasy is a beautifully designed character-learning app that helps memorise the characters very visually. 

      Little Fox Chinese provides animated stories and lessons in Chinese that your child can watch online. is useful for checking the stroke order of each character. Being disciplined about stroke order in Chinese will improve handwriting and help with memorisation.

      Make it fun

      It’s important that your child enjoys their Chinese. There are lots of ways to make it fun. One way is by watching Chinese films. I can recommend KungFu Panda 功夫熊猫 (the Chinese language version), the Chinese animation Lotus Lantern 宝莲灯 and Mulan 花木兰.

      Finally – be brave

      Learning Chinese requires time and effort. Sometimes sitting down to learn new words and vocabulary is the last thing your child will feel like doing, but they must be brave! As with any language, or indeed a musical instrument, before you start to love it you must put the hours in. Bravery will pay off.