Why encourage your child to learn Chinese? Research shows learning other languages has cognitive and cultural benefits on developing minds. It also strengthens our sense of global awareness and unity, in and outside the classroom! Each language has its own unique benefits, and Mandarin’s are numerous. Some believe that learning Chinese is one of the best investments you can make!
1/Chinese is the native language for 20% of the world’s population
Learning Chinese creates an immediate connection between your child and 1/5 of the world’s population. That’s amazing! Even if you have no plans to set foot in a Chinese-speaking country any time soon, there are nearly 50 million Chinese who live outside of China.
2/Chinese isn’t phonics based. Learning it is memory-intensive
Kids have the best memory capacities in the world. The Chinese language isn’t phonics-based so you can’t learn a small set of alphabets/sounds and be able to read the language. It’s all memorization so the sooner your kids start, the better. Learning Chinese will strongly develop your child’s memorization skills.
3/ Chinese will give English-speaking children a different paradigm for thinking
Languages affect the way we think, and therefore our perspectives. Giving kids a different language, particularly one so different from their native tongue, means we are also giving them a different paradigm for thinking. Bilingual kids are more likely to see things from different perspectives. They are more likely to be emphatic with others.
4/ Learning the Chinese language is the prerequisite for learning the Chinese culture and history
Language shapes our cultures. For example the Japanese/Korean language retains its various forms of politeness, which reinforces the hierarchical order in their societies. Asian languages tend to be more subtle while the English language is much more direct. To really learn a culture (and Chinese is an interesting one), learning the language is a must.
5/ Learning Chinese will be a career advantage
Career advantages for learning Chinese are numerous. The ability to communicate to over one billion people has major value in the job marketplace. Of course, this includes companies in China and other Mandarin speaking countries. But companies all around the world are striving to tap into the Chinese marketplace, and you’ll immediately differentiate yourself if you can speak Mandarin.
6/ It’s really an art class
Chinese characters are made up of multiple components that fit together to create meaning and pronunciation. As children will mostly be learning pictographs and characters that have clearer visual meaning, characters become mini pictures. This can make learning characters a lot more fun and easier for children to both remember the characters by creating stories and writing by constructing pictures for each one.
7/ Your child will become bilingual in Chinese in a way they never could have otherwise
Immersion is the most efficient (and some would say the only) way to gain fluency in a target language, and Mandarin Chinese is no exception. The Chinese language is often considered one of the world’s most difficult languages to learn, but this sentiment is a major oversimplification. Like any language, learning Chinese has its challenges. Placing your child in an ideal learning environment is key to learning Chinese.
8/ Mandarin contributes to developing stronger Math skills
Yes, there is actually a scientific correlation between learning Mandarin and improved mathematical ability. Scientists theorize that because Mandarin representation of numbers is less abstract than Arabic numbers, and because the act of practicing handwriting requires repeated counting, young children gain greater familiarity with math and with numeric thinking. In learning Mandarin, the mathematical concepts are integral to the language fluency, and not a separate subject activating a different part of the brain.
Because Mandarin Chinese involves learning language, sounds, drawing, and math all at once, it activates more regions of the brain and improves cognitive development overall, even in adults. In fact, speakers of Mandarin use more of their brain more of the time, unlike English speakers who tend to alternate between left and right hemispheres. In theory, this more balanced brain could lead to greater overall creativity, enhanced problem-solving, and increased emotional intelligence.
9/ Mandarin helps having a better interpretation of symbols
Since Mandarin writing relies on thousands of characters, learners of Mandarin Chinese have to read and interpret a vast number of visual symbols, activating more regions of the brain than English, which relies on a phonetic alphabet. Through learning Mandarin, children can become more adept at visual communication, more readily interpreting symbols in visual art and understanding nuances in symbolism and visual communication.
10/ Speaking Mandarin may offer kids a musical edge
Kids who speak Mandarin may outperform kids who speak English in at least one aspect of musical ability — perceiving pitch. Pitch refers to how high or low a sound’s frequency is. In tonal languages, such as Mandarin, pitch is very important. These languages use different pitch patterns to give meaning to words.