Language Power - The Reflection

This is a monthly post on 'Book Review for Parents'. Every 1st week of the month I will post review of the books that I have read with regards to raising our children.  But this post is a reflection of a Talk Show I have attended recently. My previous posts were:

Jan - Raising Musical Kids
Feb - Lynn's Money Adventures
Mar - Appreciating Your Child
Apr - How To Teach Your Baby To Be Physically Superb
May - How To Teach Your Baby To Read
Jun - How To Teach Your Baby To Swim
Jul - Appreciation Education
Aug - How To Teach Your Baby Encyclopaedic Knowledge
Sep - What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child

You knew that I have attended Eeva's Talk Show - Language Power, didn't you?  You knew how we got to know each other, didn't you?

I am someone who is hungry for knowledge, particularly those of my interests like education.  I have the strong desire to learn from the experts & to gain more knowledge, so that I may know how to bring my child up better, how to help him in his learning curve, etc.  Once the knowledge is acquired & applied, when it is proven beneficial, I love to share it with others (if they are willing to listen).

When Eeva (美香校长) shared about her Talk Show some time back, I had the desire to attend.  Like a loyal fan longing to meet her idol, you can imagine the joy I had when she offered me a pair of tickets for me to attend with AJ.  In fact, I went with 4 other mum bloggers who are equally passionate about coaching their children because she offered them 1 each too!

I enjoyed the Talk Show very much.  I agree with her on almost every point she tried to drive home that day.  The 4 other mum bloggers did lovely reviews of this Talk Show on their blogs, why don't you pop over to have a look at what they have shared?

(1) Lynnlly
(2) So Oddly Dreamlike
(3) The Kam Family
(4) Xavvy-lious

Because they have written adequate reviews of the Talk Show, I shall not repeat what they have shared.  Instead, I would share with you how I may apply what Eeva has mentioned in her Talk Show for children of different age group.

Language is mastered by imitation 语言是靠模仿学的

Eeva believed that language is mastered 1st by imitation.  It is very true.  Your child's 1st language is the one he/she most exposed to.  So if you want your child to master a 2nd language, you will have to provide the necessary environment for him/her to expose to as well.

Babies to Toddlers
This is the best age group for learning.  You may consider starting off with speaking the 2nd language more often.  If you have difficulty speaking the 2nd language, this is probably an opportunity for you to learn with your baby since both of you can start from ground zero.

So think how would you learn this 2nd language?  Listen to more songs? Watch more television programmes in this language?  Pay attention to how other people speak? You got the picture already?

You should also avoid using baby language to your babies/toddlers.  Always speak in proper sentences. For example:

Don't say:  "Baby, let's go bong bong!"
Say:  "Baby, let's have a bath!"    "宝贝, 我们去洗澡吧!"

Don't say:  "Baby, do you want to mum mum?"
Say:  "Baby, do you want to have your lunch now?"  "宝贝,你要现在吃午餐吗?"

If your preschooler is attending kindergartens or child care centres, he/she will be exposed to a minimum of 2 languages.  It is probably good for you to revise diligently on the 2nd language with him/her.  If you are weak in this 2nd language, it poses a good opportunity for you to make use of his/her materials & learn it yourself too.  When the child sees that you are putting effort in learning, he/she is likely to work harder as well.

You may also consider these:
(1) Visit the library for story telling sessions.  The library usually have weekly storytelling sessions in different languages.  You may want to check it out.

(2) Bring your children to Plays/Dramas in languages you want them to learn as frequent as you could afford.

(3) Play children songs in desired language in your car or at home & sing together.  You could consider getting Karaoke DVDs on children songs & sing along with your children too.

Please also make an effort to speak in proper sentences.  Avoid mixing of languages & broken language.  Remember, whatever & however you speak, the child will pick it up - the good way or the bad.

Primary School Goers
I guess by this time, substantial pressure to polish the 2nd language has built up.  Indeed, there will be a lot of 'catch up' to do if you have missed the stages above.

Honestly, at this point of time, if you need to send your child for tuition, I would suggest you go ahead.  But that doesn't mean you should be hands off.  If you are willing to revise what were taught with your child in the tuition centre, the child will feel your sincerity in learning with him/her.  This will actually build up the internal motivation & will also encourage him/her to continue persevering in this language.

What I will do with AJ is to use more descriptive phrases in our daily conversation to expand his word bank.  It has to be a deliberate effort on our part.  For example:

Instead of  "Walk quickly!"
We say "Walk quickly, don't be as slow as a snail."  "走快点, 不要慢条斯理!"

Instead of "You decide" or "Please decide"
We say "You have to decide on one, you can't have your cake & eat it too."  "你得做个选择, 鱼与熊掌是不可兼得的。"

Language Visualisation 语言视觉感

Eeva highlighted the importance of language visualisation, which I can't agree more.  If you are able to visualise something, you would be able to describe it better.  If your word bank is huge, you will be able to use more descriptive phrases.

This picture shows drawings of 2 students.  The 1st one is from Primary 3.  She drew a picture of a girl to represent this girl is a good girl.  The 2nd one is from Primary 2.  She drew a picture of a girl helping an elderly crossing the road to show that this girl is a good girl.

Smart readers like you would probably know who has a better sense of language visualisation.

Language visualisation isn't really difficult to teach.  Here are some ways I thought you could try.

Babies to Toddlers/Preschoolers
When we speak our babies or toddlers, beside using full & proper sentences, we could add in some adjectives as well.  For example:

Don't just say:  "Baby, let's have a bath!"    "宝贝, 我们去洗澡吧!"
Try saying:    "Baby, let's have a nice, warm bath!"    "宝贝, 我们去洗个舒服的澡吧!"

Don't just say:   "Baby, do you want to have your lunch now?"  "宝贝,你要现在吃午餐吗?"
Try saying:   "Baby, are you hungry?  Do you want to have your lunch now?"    "宝贝,你肚子饿了吗? 要现在吃午餐吗?"

Primary School Goers
In this phase, we would have to encourage more dialogue sessions.  For a start, the child may have limited vocabulary to use or may not know exactly how to beautify a sentence.  As parents, we will have to coach them.  For example, this is how I now do with AJ:

Question:  AJ, how old are you now?   恩赐,你今年几岁了?
Answer 1:  I am 8 years old.  我今年八岁。
Answer 2:  8 (worse than answer 1)  八。

Answer 2 is already a taboo but we are hearing that very often, don't we.  The way the child answered it simply ceased the possibility of a healthy dialogue session. We can try to help the child to visual the significant of 8 by adding something he has fond memory of or looking forward to.

Question:  AJ, how old are you now?  恩赐,你今年几岁了?
Answer 1:  I am turning 8 next month.  我下个月就八岁了!
Answer 2:  I am 6 now, next year I will be going to Primary School!  我今年六岁。 明年我就上小学

Why answered in that way?  That is to help him to bring in the excitement of looking forward to his birthday, to help him visualise what may come next month.  In the other answer, it helps him to visualise the great leap ahead, from preschool to primary school.

I hope these little tips help you in coaching your child(ren) 2nd language 1 way or another.  I am not an educator, I am only sharing what I have learnt & experienced.  If you do have any tips, please feel free to share with me & my readers by leaving a comment.

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  1. Great tips Jennn ! I was giggling when I read the baby talk "let's go bom bom". Seriously, I get peeved when people around me used such baby language to talk to my kids hahhaa !

    Thanks for linking up ! =)

  2. Thanks for the practical illustrations. But our mandarin must really brush up big time to use such flowery imagery... lol. Gotta start reading more flowery storybooks! ; p


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