Chinese Language
A group class or a private tuition would suit my shy boy better?
Asked By : MikayLeE
Words from the Expert:

Question: My child has difficulty learning Chinese and he is a very shy and quiet boy. How do I know if a group class or a private tuition would suit him better?


Today we have a new understanding of how children learn language and the environmental factors which have positive effects on language development. The learning environment is key to their success. If you child is shy and quiet, I suggest that they learn in a group setting that will encourage them to associate the language with play and community. They may be shy at first but a good school will establish a culture of safe inclusion. It is important that your child gains experience in this way. Otherwise they will associate Chinese with solitary study and it will never be connected to healthy communication.

Creating a Chinese learning environment at school 

Because language and speech are primarily learned through imitation and observation, the amount and kind of language stimulation a child receives contributes to their language development. They should chat in Chinese as often as they can. For example, with activities like eating or helping to tidy up, they can describe everything they do and name the everyday objects they come in contact with. It is very important that they do this in a group setting with other children as they can practise the language in real-life situations. They will soon be playing and speaking Mandarin with their friends. 

Enjoying stories with their friends

Stories are a great way for children to learn language. Children not only enjoy stories, they love the sense of sharing that comes naturally when they are being read to. The teacher will interact both with the book and with your child. They can act out the stories with their classmates using funny faces and voices. This can be fun and exciting and will help your child to associate the language with enjoyment.

Using language through play

Sit-down-and-study language programmes may seem more efficient because children can ‘learn’ a lot of vocabulary in a short period. But, the problem is that what is learned is quickly forgotten. Children will truly acquire language skills when they use language to communicate in a meaningful way. And so the most effective way to learn a language in the long run is by playing within a group. Sharing and copying will help to build their confidence and overcome their shyness.

Young children love to involve themselves in songs

Singing is a great way to learn language. When words are matched with melody, we remember them more easily. This is a fun way to inculcate a love for Mandarin. They’ll have great fun singing with their friends and learning the language in a relaxed and enjoyable way.

Create as many opportunities as possible for your child to learn and speak Mandarin.

Children of all ages will learn from each other. A child’s peers are by far their best language teachers!  In addition to school, arrange playdates with other Mandarin speaking children so that your child can use the language while they play with their friends. 

Show a personal interest in learning the language yourself. For example, encourage your child to use the words that they learned at school, at home. Ask them what the words mean and use them yourself. This is very empowering for a child because they enjoy becoming the ‘teacher’.

Remember that with all learning, enthusiasm and involvement is the key to happy and healthy development, which will help them to overcome shyness and speak with confidence.

The Expert:
Huang Ying
Principal of Chengzhu​