Why learn Mandarin at an early age?
In some schools, it’s compulsory for kids to learn Chinese, but it’s often not done in any depth. There are plenty of reasons why learning to speak Mandarin fluently, either through extra classes or holidays camps, will help children, not only now, but also in the future. Here we look at a few of the key benefits of learning Mandarin – plus, we find out if it’s really as difficult to learn as some people say!
#1 It’s the world’s most widely spoken language
According to language publication Ethnologue, Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, when you count only first-language (native) speakers. Why? Because of China’s huge population. The number of native Mandarin speakers on the planet currently sits at around 1.3 billion. (English has less than a third of that!)
#2 Children develop an ear for languages
Exposing children to a second language at an early age helps them develop an ‘ear’ for that language. This applies to Mandarin too. What this means is that they’ll more easily achieve better pronunciation and fluency later in life. Why? Because young children are more sensitive to the differences in sounds. Researchers claim that children who learn a second language before their teenage years are more likely to achieve native-like pronunciation in that language.
#3 It will boost their future career prospects
In today’s very global world, the ability to communicate in more than one language is becoming an essential skill. Given the fact that China’s economy is one of the world’s largest, the benefits of learning Mandarin can extend to your CV, too. When applying for a job, bilingual candidates have an edge over other applicants; a language as common as Mandarin can really set you apart. There are a huge number of jobs in areas such as education, international business, healthcare, security and tourism that require candidates who are bilingual. This translates to more job opportunities for those who can speak a second language.
#4 It will help make travelling easier
Mandarin isn’t just spoken in mainland China, of course. Places like Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, the Philippines and Mongolia, along with many others, have large Chinese populations. So, knowing Mandarin will not only help make travelling easier, it’ll also allow you to better interact with the locals. And that means getting a true sense of a country.
Also … it isn’t as hard as you might think!
It’s sometimes said that the benefits of learning Mandarin are offset by how hard it is to learn. In fact, it has a far simpler grammar system than its European language counterparts because it doesn’t have particular tenses or conjugations for verbs. Instead, words have a fixed form that’s the same no matter what they’re used for, or where they appear in a sentence. Even singular and plural forms are the same.
One thing that can often cause confusion for non-native speakers is the fact that Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language. So, in order to differentiate meaning, the same syllable can be pronounced with different tones. While tones may sound intimidating at first, all languages have tones – even English! The only difference is that, in English, tones are used to express emotions.
So, even if your children are having Mandarin lessons in class, if you want them to be super confident and be able to take it forward with them into their working lives, look at extra classes or holiday camps to get them immersed. They’ll probably thank you in the future!
Little Mandarins Language Centre offers Chinese classes for children from 18 months, as well as holiday camps.
Block 71, Loewen Road #01-03
6473 8377 | email@example.com | little-mandarins.com
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