FAQS about learning Mandarin

Q: Is Mandarin harder to learn compared to other languages?

A: Mandarin is a tonal language - in which the same combination of consonants and vowels can be pronounced in four different ways - and it's much easier to learn that in earlier years. The younger they learn, the more authentically they can reproduce these sounds. Our focus is on the spoken language. As far as that goes, it's no more difficult for the kids than the other languages.

Q: When do most students start to learn a new language now?

A: In high school, which is precisely after the natural window of opportunity to learn a language closes. In recent years, more and more NSW primary schools have adopted Mandarin as their language subject - which is a tremendous step forward in terms of teaching languages effectively. It is so important to start young!

Q: How much immersion do they need?

A: If a child is immersed by a native speaker at least once a week for a significant period of time, they will be able to do 3 things:

  1. They will be able to use the language spontaneously, without translating through English. We often see that coming out during our snack time. They will ask (for a piece of fruit) naturally in Mandarin.
  2. They will have the correct native accent. The brain is able to reproduce sounds, and they can pick up on their teacher's native accent.
  3. They will benefit cognitively. Kids who learn more than one language young become smarter. There are studies that show, all other things being equal, kids who know more than one language score higher in standardised exams.
Q: How young can kids start your program?

A: They can start as young as 12 months but we enrol kids from 18 months onwards only because they can sit, walk and respond to instructions better in our toddler program.

Q: How does a toddler take language classes?

A: Our teachers know what the goal is for each week, but from a child's perspective they are in an exciting toddlers program that happens to be in another language. Unaware to them, they are absorbing a new language. They are in their formative years.

Q: I'm not seeing any results?

A: Raising bilingual children requires patience, and there are going to be times when doubt sneaks in. As with most aspects of parenting, it's a long term commitment and there will be ups and downs. But remember, that's happening to the parents of monolingual children too! Don't worry if your child doesn't speak Mandarin as quickly or as adeptly as his/her peers. Instead focus on their progress and marvel at the development of their little brain.