Learning to speak a language is
heavily linked to affective factors – your feelings and your reaction to the language
environment around you. Children’s language ability of speaking an additional
language does not come naturally. Many external factors have impacts on how
children can learning a second language. Here our blogger share her view:
I’m a mother of three, a Chinese teacher living overseas, I see the importance of creating a Chinese environment
for children. I thus always stick
to one principle: speak Chinese with my children at home, tell stories only in
The family language environment especially helps
children develop listening skills. Here are some basic rules for language
learning with low-age children:
Let the book be
When my child was still a baby but was
able to see and catch objects in the hands, I started to show her a black and
white color book. I told the story in Chinese, named the items around her in
Chinese. The book was always placed next to her. Whenever she was awake, she would
take this book and play with it. Although it’s not her stuffed toy, she was
accompanied by a Chinese book and growing with it every day.
As for a toddler, she may not understand a
lot about reading. but the advantages of parent-child reading are many. It allows
child to feel the companionship of the parents, it builds trust between parents
and child, and it enhances child’s sense of security. I think, for this reason, my three
children were willing to listen to me for a long time even they could not understand
well what I was speaking. Slowly, they got a conditional reflex. Whenever
they sit on my lap, they would pick up a book. When I read myself, I also
observed whether they were paying attention to what I was reading. I found that
most of the time they paid also attention to my book and images inside my book.
They would be eager to use their tiny fingers to point on the patterns
interested them, and waited for my explanation. Of course, I use Chinese to
If they saw the pattern on the book in
real life, they would be particularly excited, shouting and pointing the items
they had seen in their books, or describing this thing in their own way. On the
other hand, when reading a book, they would be immediately connected with the images
of real objects they have come across in daily life. Once this concept of representation begins to take
a hold in their little brain, they would carefully observe the pictures in the
book and be willing to describe the similarity or difference between the
pictures and real things with their simple broken Chinese words. Reading
gradually became a huge fun game between kids and me. I’m always touched by the
light in their eyes---the light coming from a fulfilled curiosity, the light of
a growing mind.
This positive reciprocal reinforcement between
facts and books stimulates the joy of reading. If you spend a lot of time reading with
your child every day, you will find that the number of times the child picks up
books increase, reading time is getting longer and longer.
What books did I choose for my children?
Choose a book that is closely related with the child's daily life. For example, there are bottles,
diapers, clothes, toys and fruits in the book, so that he can quickly connect
the real thing with the book.
2. Select the book with a topic of “Finding
Things”. A little bit challenge at the child’s level also stimulate curiosity in
further reading. For example: what is hidden in the elephant's ear, what is hidden behind
the stone. There is also a type of book that children can touch it to feel,
such as the soft hair of a puppy, the smoothness of a fish's body, the
graininess of an orange, the stickiness of a chocolate sauce, or the smell of a
flower. When we put these books in front of children, then they will be more
curious to explore every corner of the book. Nurturing your child’s curiosity with well
selected books will help her become a lifelong reader.
Two more practical tips:
Let children get in touch with the five senses,
mobilizing all kinds of senses to understand the book. Parents interact with
children while reading, leading them not only read the book but also establish
contact with the things and generate recognition, build their sense of
recognition and strengthen parent-child relationship.
Let children also choose their favorite books at specific
times. I think the book chosen by children has something he likes or something
he doesn't understand, and would like to
Those above are my
reflection on cultivating reading habits of 0-2 years old children. I believe a
good reading environment is a good language learning environment.