Why Mandarin is an Excellent Language for Native English-Speaking Children to Learn
It’s estimated that approximately 15% of the world’s population speaks Chinese Mandarin, making it one of the most widely spoken languages across the globe. For adults, the idea of learning Mandarin as a second language can be quite intimidating, especially since some language learning resources recommend at least four years of study to become fully fluent. In addition, writing character-based Mandarin and speaking tonal-based Mandarin are two different things, and it can seem like two entirely new languages must be learned in order to gain proficiency in one. Seems daunting, doesn’t it?
But what about when native English-speaking children learn Mandarin at a young age? Is the challenge the same as it is for adults? You may be surprised at the answer.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits for children who learn Mandarin as a second-language.
Counting in Mandarin is simplified.
In the Mandarin language, once a child has learned to count to 10, he or she can easily count to 99. Why? Because the words for all numbers beyond 10 build off the words for one through 10. For example, the Mandarian word for 11 translates to “ten-one,” while the word for 32 is “three-ten-two.” A new word is then introduced to identify the number 100. Using these initial 11 words as a counting foundation, a child can learn to count to incredibly high numbers very easily.
It’s easy to learn the days of the week and months once counting is understood.
Once Mandarin numbers are mastered, learning the days of the week and months is easy. To say the first six days of the week, a child will simply need to learn the word for “weekday” then speak it before the word for one, two, three, four, five, or six. For example, Tuesday is “weekday-two” while Thursday is “weekday-four.” Sunday has its own special designation, translating to “weekday-sun.” Similarly, the name of a month combines the word for month (which translates to “moon”) and the number word. For example, March is “three-month.”
There are no verbs to conjugate and no masculine and feminine nouns.
In English, French, and Spanish, verbs must be conjugated to match the subject and identify whether the action occurred in the past, is occurring in the present, or will occur in the future. This requires that children learning these languages must memorize the various verb forms and conjugation rules, and the learning process can be confusing. Further complicating matters are the feminine and masculine nouns that children must learn to properly speak and write French and Spanish.
In Mandarin, however, there is no change to the verb based on the subject and only the word to indicate the time frame changes. Plus, the language does not use masculine and feminine nouns. These differences make mastering Mandarin at a young age easier.
Improved brain function and development in other areas
Mandarin is a tonal language, which means that pitch is used to distinguish its lexical or grammatical meanings. It has four basic tones plus a fifth neutral one. As a result, children who begin hearing and learning Mandarin at a young age may also be able to accurately identify musical pitch and more readily understand and absorb musical concepts. The same is true for mathematical concepts.
Enhanced academic and career prospects
Because such a high percentage of the world’s population speaks Mandarin, it’s easy to see how beneficial learning the language could be for your child. This fact is especially important when considering your child’s progress through school and how they are prepared for their eventual careers. Most colleges and universities put emphasis on foreign language knowledge, making the skill an academic boon. In addition, knowing Mandarin can be helpful for when your child becomes an adult, particularly if he or she enters the international business, military, or diplomatic sectors.
Cresthill Academy Offers Mandarin Education for Young Learners
At Cresthill Academy, we understand the many benefits that bilingualism in early childhood provides to the development of a young mind. As a result, we have incorporated early foreign language learning in Mandarin Chinese (and Spanish!) at our daycare and preschool locations in New Jersey.
Our Mandarin teachers are native speakers of the language, and they spend approximately 30 to 60 minutes per day in every classroom teaching the language. This helps to ensure that the children have consistent exposure to Mandarin, which is necessary for successful language comprehension and absorption. Additionally, we use multiple mediums when teaching Mandarin, including music, digital interactive methods, cultural projects, and more.
To learn more about Cresthill Academy and how we’re dedicated to providing world-class Mandarin language learning opportunities to all of our enrolled children, contact us today and schedule a tour. We offer a variety of day care programs for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners with locations in Harrison, Hoboken Uptown, Hoboken Downtown, East Hanover, and Lyndhurst, New Jersey.