Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chinese or Bust

If what I've been told is correct, children as young as William can learn a new word only after hearing it spoken 2-4 times. Children who are Andrew's age (4-6-ish) will need approximately 5-7 repetitions. Adults require a staggering 20-40 repetitions. If true, these figures present a compelling case to teach children a second language as early as possible.

For those who are interested in raising Mandarin-speaking children - or at the very least, kids who can pull off a decent Chinglish, here are some sites and resources to check out:

Language Immersion Camps:
The more I research these, the more I'm starting to rub my hands with glee at the thought of sending our boys to overnight camp when they're of age. They'll see see their Mandarin skills grow by leaps and bounds, make new friends, and... um, Mom and Dad finally get time to themselves for the first time in who knows how long.

Here are two that are look-worthy:

Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy in White River Junction, Vermont. This program is open to 7th through 12th graders for a few weeks in the summer. English is only allowed during certain parts of the day, so it's pretty much sink or swim when it comes to learning Mandarin.

Concordia Language Villages in Moorhead, Minnesota. This program sponsors weekend and full-week immersion programs for the whole family, as well as sleep-over camps for older children. Daytime immersion programs for children as young as 2 1/2 years old and up are also available.

Media Resources:
The Chinese school that the boys will be starting in this Saturday lists some Mandarin media resources on its website. There are links to children's DVDs, Chinese pop music CDs, online radio, and links to even get Chinese children's satellite television broadcast in your home. If you explore the site futher, you'll also see some useful links for learning Chinese and even typing it.

Local Chinese Schools:
This national directory lists schools in each state that have Chinese language programs. It is by no means comprehensive. You may do better to just Google "Chinese school - XYZ city" and see what you come up with. It's definitely worth visiting the school to make sure the curriculum, teachers, facility, and student population will be good matches for your child.


Yvonne Crawford said...

great info! Thanks so much!

R... said...

Hen hao! You do make that camp sound awfully enticing! Do they have one for adults, too? ;-)

I find it funny that in our family I am the one that speaks Chinese most to Island Boy and I am by far the least qualified (primarily because I didn't learn it when I was his age). Good luck with your teaching!