My children are learning Chinese, English and Malay at the same time in school. This is how I teach them languages at home. It does not matter what language, the principal is the same. It is easier for them to grasp the concept when there is synergy even though they are learning 3 different languages at the same time.

Right, here are the steps I tell them they have to go through when they learn a language.

  1. First you learn alphabets (Huruf). For Chinese you learn Strokes and Radicals
  2. Then you learn to form a word (perkataan) by putting together those alphabets.
  3. Then you learn a phrase (Frasa) by joining two or more words together
  4. You will need to learn spelling (ejaan or “ting seah”) and improve on your vocabulary of words.
  5. Next you need to learn grammar (Tatabahasa). Some basic ones include nouns (Kata Nama Am), proper nouns (Kata Nama Khas), pronouns (Kata Ganti Nama Diri), verbs (Kata Kerja), punctuation (Tanda Baca), conjuctions (Kata Hubung) etc.
  6. After that, you are ready to make a sentence (ayat) by joining the phrases and words and using your basic grammar knowledge.
  7. When learning to make sentences you will need to a lof of practise.
  8. You will need to match phrases to form a complete sentence. (Padankan rankai kata)
  9. You will need to practise by select the correct sentence for a given picture. (Suaikan ayat dengan gambar)
  10. You will need to rearrange words to form sentences. (Susun semula Perkataan)
  11. You will need to number pictures according to sentences. (Susun Ayat mengikut urutan)
  12. You will need to fill in the blanks in a given passage. (Isi Tempat Kosong)
  13. You will need to expand sentences by completing sentences or by replacing given words. (Lengkapkan ayat)
  14. You will need to rearrange sentences to form a passage. (Susun ayat mengikut urutan)
  15. Finally, you will need to make sentences based on a given picture (Bina Ayat berdasarkan gambar)
  16. Ultimately, you will need to make a sentence from a given phrase or phrases.(Bina Ayat)
  17. When you can make good sentences, you can join a few sentences together to make a paragraph.
  18. Writing a few paragraphs will give you an essay (karangan).
  19. Put together several “essays” and you will have a chapter.
  20. Write a few chapters and you will have written a book.
  21. You are now an author.

My kids will laugh when they reach the last part. They like to imagine themselves as authors. So you see, although the kids have to learn 3 different languages, it isn’t really hard if you explain it to them in this manner. It is the same really with some slight differences. For example, in Malay, you may need to learn sukukata and imbuhan whereas in English you may need to learn phonics.

In Chinese, you may need to learn the history of how each Chinese character is formed. This is really very interesting for the kids because many characters come from drawings and there is a story behind it. However, though Chinese may be slightly different, you can still apply the same principals of learning language above. Kids also have to learn in a step by step manner as I have described above. I have purposely included the Malay words beside the English ones to emphasize the similarity.

I “discovered” this similarity from teaching the kids myself. I didn’t learn very much grammar in school but since the kids started schooling, I find myself being “back to school” through self learning and teaching. 🙂

So to all the parents who have to teach their kids at home, perhaps you will find this article useful too. If you like to check out some Chinese Learning Resources, you can read Learning Chinese Mandarin Online for Kids which I have just published.

Next, I will feature some books I have found which aids in this type of step by step learning method from sentence construction right up to essay writing.

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