Five Great Benefits of
Chinese Lessons for Kids

Learning any foreign language is beneficial to students of any age. Studies have shown that children who learn a second language benefit from improved understanding of their first language, enhanced creativity and empathy, and heightened ability to multi-task. There are many possible foreign languages children can choose from: they can choose their heritage language (if any), the most used community language, or a culture that they are especially interested in. In this post, we are going to take a look at these five major benefits of Chinese lessons for kids.

1. Improved Mathematical Understanding

Asian children have a reputation of doing well in mathematics. Perhaps language plays a role? Yes, it does. Let’s take a look at how the Chinese language expresses numbers.

  • Eleven is 十一 shíyī, which comprises the character 十 meaning 10 and the character 一 meaning 1. Unlike the English word “eleven” that shows no meaning between 10 and 1, the Chinese word for “eleven” literally adds 10 and 1 together to form the number 11. As children learn to say the numbers, they learn about addition as well.
  • Twenty is 二十 èrshí, which comprises the character 二 meaning 2 and the character 十 meaning 10. The Chinese word for “twenty” shows how 20 is formed by multiplying 2 by 10. So they learn multiplication at the same time.

2. Making It Easy to Learn Other Related Languages and Cultures

English and German both belong to the Germanic family of languages, making it super easy for an English speaker to learn German, and vice versa. French, Italian and Spanish belong to the Latin family of languages, making it much easier for the speaker of any of these languages to learn another language in the Latin family.

Chinese language is the oldest written language in the world so it is no surprise that other languages such as Japanese and Korean are influenced by the Chinese language. As a matter of fact, Japanese language still retains the Chinese characters known as kanji. For someone who has not learned Japanese but has learned Chinese writing, they will understand the meaning of kanji when they read the kanji writing. Some grammatical rules are also similar. For example, both Chinese and Japanese use numeral counters for different objects. Apples, for instance, use the numeral counter 个 . Japanese also uses the same numeral counter for apples.

Some cultural festivals in Japan and Korea that are still practiced today also originated from traditional Chinese customs. For instance, the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is a major Chinese celebration, is called Tsukimi in Japan and Chuseok in Korea. The Tanabata Festival in Japan and Chilseok in Korea both originated from the Chinese Qixi Festival.

3. Enhanced Cross-Cultural Skills

Just like languages that belong to a certain family of languages, cultures of different countries can also be grouped together. In general, we can say that cultures of languages that belong to the same family of languages are more relatable to one another. When a child from an English-speaking family learns a foreign language that is Germanic or Latin-based, they are learning another language and culture that are more relatable to their own. On the other hand, when a child learns a foreign language that is very different from their first language, they will gain exposure to a foreign culture that is very different from their own. This early exposure to a very different culture will build important cross-cultural skills that will be very useful not only when they enter the workforce, but also in expanding their horizon at an early age.

4. Improved Problem-Solving Skills

The Chinese language has different grammatical rules and communication styles. Word order, for instance, can be different. When learning the language, students will be required to do exercises to solve problems. The process involves analysing the language, comparing the differences and similarities between the foreign language and the first language, and creating their own rules to make sense of the foreign language. This sort of training develops children’s critical thinking, showing them different ways things work.

5. Enhanced Creativity

The Chinese language uses a different script from English. The script is pictographic, using pictures to represent characters. The script also contains ideographic characters, a more abstract visualisation of the meaning of the characters. Although it may be difficult at first to read and write script that is different from what students are used to, the process of learning a different script will push them to be more creative. For instance, they will need to create stories associated with each character. Creativity, like problem solving, is a skill that can be developed through activities.