Teaching Chinese in Your Homeschool

Adding a second language as a subject is common for homeschooling families. Recently teaching Chinese as part of the curriculum has become a popular option.

There are many developmental benefits to learning a second language for your child. It makes it a perfect option for homeschooling families.

But, you may ask if you don’t speak the language, how am I going to teach?

I am a bilingual homeschooling mom of four, and I teach my children Cantonese, Mandarin, and English.

I’m here to help you add Chinese learning into your homeschooling experience by following 5 simple steps.

Step 1: Identify the Reasons and Goals for Teaching Chinese

Think about and write down a list of reasons of why you want to add Chinese learning to your homeschooling curriculum and put it in your language folder as a reminder.

For example:

  • You and your child are interested in the Chinese culture and language
  • Your family is interested in traveling to China in the future
  • There is a Chinese community nearby, and you would like to learn the language as well

It’s also important to set appropriate goals.

For example:

If this is your first time adding Chinese learning as a non-fluent speaker, you may want to focus on introducing Chinese culture through simple songs, stories, and activities instead of trying to teach how to read and write the first 5oo Chinese characters.

But if you can speak Chinese yourself, your goals may be different. Such as speak only Chinese to your children, read Chinese books before bedtime and celebrate Chinese festivals as a family, etc.

Remember focus on motivating and keeping your child’s interest level in the Chinese language and culture up, because when they are interested, they will be self-motivated.

And remember not to compare your goals with others.

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Step 2: Make Plans for Teaching Chinese in the Upcoming Homeschooling Year

After you have a clear vision of how you want to teach Chinese in the coming homeschooling year, it’s time to make plans and set goals.

Here are questions to consider while making plans:

  • How many days/hours do you want to spend on teaching Chinese every week?
  • Do you need to outsource? Tutor? Nanny? Playgroup? Online program?
  • Will you learn Chinese with your child?
  • Which curriculum/method will be used to teach Chinese at home?
  • What will your homeschooling schedule look like?
  • And more…

For teaching younger children, repeat things in Chinese right after teaching them in their native language. This way is easier for you too, as you only need to prepare translations of some vocabulary in Chinese, but not the content and activities.

I suggest using a Chinese Theme-based Approach or a Literature Approach is great.

For older children, a theme-based approach and literature approach are great too, and you can let them help pick the topics and books to learn about.

Since they are older, they may want to learn more in the linguistic area than just books, listening to children’s songs, etc. You may want to look into some online programs or online classes, such as Lingbus, That’s Mandarin, or Mandarin Chinese School, etc.

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Step 3: Create a Chinese-language Rich Environment at Home

Providing a Chinese immersion environment is another key to help encourage your child to learn Chinese through different experiences:

  • Create a mini Chinatown at home with Chinese pictures on the wall, lion dance and panda toys, and tons of Chinese children’s books, etc.
  • Learn and participate in some Chinese cultural activities and events
  • Daily Chinese practice/ lessons
  • Enjoy modern and ancient Chinese music and dance
  • Make and cook Chinese cuisine and cultural food once a week
  • Get to know Chinese people, etc.

This way you do not have to move to China, and you can still learn the language in your own home.


Step 4: Learn Chinese with as a Family

Children may feel lonely when working on their own, they will be more happy and willing to do things with someone accompanying them.

Getting the family involved in learning Chinese can provide a great deal of motivation, engagement, and family bonding in your family.

I understand how busy you are as parents, so how can you learn Chinese along with your children?

Be their example!

You don’t have to master the Chinese language, be able to recognize Chinese characters and write and read right away. These are several ways that you can support your child learning Chinese:

  • Show and tell your child how much you respect and like the Chinese language and culture
  • Play Chinese board games and other games as a family
  • Listen, play, sing Chinese music together
  • Look at photos of China (places & cities, landmark, old buildings, map, animals from China, cuisine, etc.) together
  • Have a regular family Chinese movie night
  • Attend Chinese cultural shows in person or online
  • Celebrate cultural festivals and holidays together
  • Plan and travel to Chinese speaking countries as a family

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Step 5: Evaluate with Your Child

After a whole homeschooling year of adding the Chinese language into your homeschooling experience, it’s time to evaluate.

Find a time to reflect on all the Chinese activities you have done with your child, and list out all the likes and dislikes in a piece of paper.

You may also ask your child the following questions:

  • What are your favorite Chinese learning activities?
  • What are your least favorite Chinese learning activities?
  • What are your favorite Chinese stories or festivals?
  • Would you like to keep learning more about China and the language over next year?

Asking your spouse, or if you have hired any tutors or Chinese teachers about the progress and enjoyment of your child is great too. It will give you more perspective if you should keep it going or not.

It’s great to keep learning and to make adjustments and improvements to how you teach Chinese at home. It’s also fine to decide not to continue. Every family is unique and it’s totally fine to try different things in your homeschooling journey.

Additional Resources I have Used to Teach My Children Chinese

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. If you are interested in adding Chinese learning to your homeschooling experience, here are some Chinese resources I use and created for my children.

It works, that’s why I recommend it to you, I want you to have success and fun while learning Chinese too.

You can find them all from my blog.

  • Chinese Theme Packs: Learn Chinese with Theme-based Approach
  • Chinese Boom Cards: Learn Chinese with Interactive, Digital Task Cards
  • Chinese Cultural and Festival Lesson Plans: Lesson plans with engaging activities and printable
  • Pretend Play wth Chinese Printable: Learn and practice Chinese through pretend play
  • and more…

Po Tim King

About the author

Po Tim King provides Chinese teaching resources, printables, and homeschooling tips through her blog – Fortune Cookie Mom. She helps parents gain confidence and knowhow to homeschool in Chinese at through online courses, Chinese materials, speaking at conferences, and sharing daily activities through various social media platforms and her blog.

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