1. How can my child study Mandarin Chinese with Lotus Chinese Learning?
Lotus Chinese Learning offers classes through San Antonio-area schools and also provides private classes to interested students, either individually (tutoring) or in groups. Email mary [at] lotuschineselearning.com or drop a line through the contact page. Ask about our classes for adults too!
2. Isn’t learning Chinese really hard?
No, if taught using research-based methods, learning Chinese is not any different than learning Spanish, French or any other language more commonly taught in American schools. Learning any language (including your first language) is a slow, piecemeal, and ordered process. As in first language acquisition, there is considerable individual variation in this process and sometimes people have different rates of success. Language learners need communicatively embedded input in order to make progress. With this input, they will learn a language, whether it is Spanish, Chinese or Quechua.
2. How long will it take for my child to be fluent in Chinese?
It depends! Language learning is a complex process, however, learners do tend to go through consistent stages in language acquisition. Many parents want to make sure that classes are “working.” It important to keep in mind that in the first stage of first and second language acquisition, learners often do not say very much. They will begin to speak more and more of the target language over time. In general, it is more useful to think about the time that a learner spends on the target language in terms of hours rather than years. Students will acquire more Chinese in a year if they spend half the school day receiving comprehensible input in Chinese than if they have a couple hours a week of class.
3. Do you teach reading and writing in Chinese?
Yes, of course! Lotus Chinese Learning teaches Chinese reading and writing in a way that is similar to how children acquire literacy in their home language. Legacy teaching methods often focus on the mechanics of Chinese writing, i.e. writing with the correct stroke order. Rote work like this tends to decrease student motivation. Instead, literacy with Lotus Chinese Learning focuses on helping students map aural Chinese to the written word.
5. How can I help my child at home if I don’t speak Chinese?
If your child is younger and still learning to read in English (or your home language), continue to support him or her in that learning process. First language skills help support second language acquisition. Parents can help older children access Chinese-language materials at the library, through YouTube or other websites. Ask your child’s teacher for suggestions.
6. Isn’t there a critical period for learning language? In other words, should teenagers and adults bother trying to learn a second language?
The short answer is yes, anyone who wants to can learn a second language, age should have nothing to do with the decision to start learning. This question is worth covering in more detail, however, because there are so many folk beliefs about language acquisition and age out there. There is strong evidence for a critical period for first language acquisition. This means that after a certain age, generally thought to be about twelve years, a child who has not been properly exposed to a first language will never fully acquire language ability. Support for a similar critical period for acquiring a second language is weaker. In general, younger is better when it comes to second language learning, but there are many caveats. In fact, very young children tend to acquire a second language more slowly than previously thought. Older learners who are highly motivated can reach very high levels of fluency. There is a great deal of evidence that learners who start younger have a more native-like accent in the second language, but there are always exceptions.
7. Is Lotus Chinese Learning a child-care facility or program?
No, Lotus Chinese Learning is not a child-care facility or day care program. It is a single skill program solely intended to teach Mandarin Chinese. Classes with Lotus Chinese Learning are not a substitute for child care.