Why Our Grandchildren Should Learn Mandarin Chinese Sooner Rather Than Later

Miss-Panda-Chinese-Top-5-Chinese-Learning-AppsOur cousins in San Francisco have always had a nanny who speaks Mandarin Chinese.  Once their eldest was ready for preschool, they enrolled him in a Chinese speaking and Chinese emersion preschool.  We get videos of this adorable child at school.  Their youngest child is still with the same nanny who has spoken Chinese to her since birth too. His parents are smart and in professional finance careers.  We just got back from visiting South Africa and now think our cousins are more than smart.  They are brilliant.

Ivanka Trump demonstrated her young daughter’s Chinese speaking skill on YouTube. Ivanka Trump, also, is an entrepreneur, already doing business in China, and seems to be preparing her daughter for the future.

Wow!  Mandarin Chinese is Mandatory in schools in South Africa!

We learned on our trip to Cape Town that Mandarin Chinese is mandatory in schools in South Africa.  Our guide, a South African native, said the country decided the financial future of South Africa mandated that its population be fluent in Mandarin.  He told us at the vineyard where he produces his own wine, five years ago, Chinese came to buy the vineyard’s entire wine production.  The owners said no, that they were committed for five years already, but would increase production and would have product to provide in five years, this coming year.  It is sold out. All the South African vineyards have increased production for the Chinese market.  He said if 1% of the Chinese population drank ONE BOTTLE of South African wine A MONTH their entire country’s production would not be enough supply.

Our guide said Chinese tourists are already a big market in South Africa (and we have seen this too in our travels around the world).  Out of 4,000 guides in Cape Town, 500 speak Mandarin already and service Chinese tourists just today.

He said that America does not understand how few percentage of the Chinese population is a massive impact on international financial markets and tourism and underestimates the importance of being fluent in Chinese.  He said because he did not speak Chinese he lost his factory connection when he sold women’s clothing and closed his business.  Chinese want to do business with those who speak Chinese and South Africa recognizes this as a country.  According to this experienced businessman, those who want to be financially successful, especially in the financial business and marketplace, must be fluent in Mandarin Chinese in the next generation and South Africa is preparing for their future success in the world.

Mandarin Chinese can be a hobby for us Boomers, but should be a goal for the generation of the parents of our grandchildren, and a must for our grandchildren.  We can learn with them!  There are more reasons to be interested in languages, especially Chinese.

Wow! Being Bilingual Boosts Brain Power and the Earlier the Better!

In the Sun Sentinel, July 23, 2017, there was an article, “Study: Bilingual Skills Just Child Play,” by Neal Morton. He reported on University of Washington study that an infant’s brain benefits from early exposure to two languages, and the earlier the second language is introduced the stronger the bilingual skills will be.

It is interesting that this Grandma did not learn English until I started elementary school.  I spoke a few languages, and now, as an adult, do better understanding than speaking other languages.  I find that I am able to pick up languages easily now, and even, if I speak another language for a few weeks, I can begin to think in another language.  I know now I have my parents to thank for, it seems, not only this boost in brain power, but also analytical ability and rule following!

“Earlier this year, a team at the University of Washington used neuroimaging to show that bilingual 11-month-olds demonstrated stronger activity in areas of the brain associated with problem solving and self-control,” according to Mr. Morton.  The regional government in Madrid, Spain, decided to boost bilingual education for infants there, contacted the Institute of Learning & Brain Sciences at University of Washington to develop and test a program to teach a second language to young children whose parents speak only one.  Researchers studied the results of the 250 babies and toddlers, ages 7 to 33 months, split into two groups.  The first group of babies and toddlers received daily, hour-long English tutoring sessions for 18 weeks, were encouraged to talk more in English, even if it was just babbling.  They also used “social, play-based activities and speech to the children in a way that helps language development.”  The second group remained in an existing bilingual program, where the babies and toddlers “spent about two hours a week with an instructor who introduced simple English vocabulary and phrases in a typical classroom setting, with a higher student-teacher ratio. The parents of both groups were asked not to provide additional English tutoring through the duration of the program.”

The results of the study showed that the daily hour long tutoring in small groups to babies and toddlers made the difference:

*”On average, the tutored children spoke in English five times as often in a given hour than those who remained in the existing program.”

*”The tutored children also produced more complex sentences in English and, even 18 weeks after the program ended, retained their English skills.”

There is a question as to whether, without reinforcement, such English skills will be retained, but now is definite research to show the benefit of early exposure to a second language.  It seems that informal play with individualized attention and encouragement for a short time daily goes a long way.  Yes, a Mandarin Chinese nanny or a Chinese emersion preschool would seem to work for of us not living in Madrid, Spain, right now.

But, there is more than we can do.  For adults, there is Rosetta Stone.  However, unless you speak the language outside of Rosetta Stone, the benefits seem to diminish over time, for those adults I know who have tried it.  For business people right now, who do business in China, it might be worth a try.  When we travel worldwide, we try to pick up some of the local language to use with the locals.  Locals love that you care.  South Africa has realized that as a nation.  Until the United States pays attention, we Boomer grandparents can pay attention.

For parents and grandparents interested in exposing babies, toddlers, and children to Mandarin Chinese to see what happens, there are apps and a helper to find apps, “Miss Panda’s Picks: Top 18 Chinese Learning Apps for Kids.”   On the website, she includes links to books read to children in Chinese, how to write Chinese letters apps, and especially, ideas for how to introduce Mandarin Chinese to children.  The primary suggestion is for the adults to try the apps first.  Then adults, using the most simplified learning tools, can see if they can learn Mandarin Chinese too.  Cheaper than Rosetta Stone.  And remember, our grandchildren love new apps, and these can be introduced as a new game.

This Grandma has had her eyes opened, and hopes this opens your eyes too.






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