For all of you studying Chinese, teaching your children, or just wondering how to get started, the following series is for you. It outlines practical strategies for pursuing language learning based on RESEARCH. If you are unfamiliar with Dr. Stephen Krashen, please take a few minutes to Google him. A great place to start is this article in the Washington Post about comprehensible input. What is comprehensible input you ask, excellent question.
"The results of studies done over the last few decades by a wide variety
of researchers and published in scientific journals support this view:
We do not master languages by hard study and memorization, or by
producing it. Rather, we acquire language when we understand what people
tell us and what we read, when we get “comprehensible input.” As we get
comprehensible input through listening and reading, we acquire (or
“absorb”) the grammar and vocabulary of the second language." (Stephen Krashen Washintgon Post The Right and Wrong Way to learn a Foreign Language 6/16/12)
In other words - context matters. Vocabulary lists, flash cards, books, and videos that present vocabulary in isolation fail to provide the critical context for language learning. If your child is learning to count or name animals in Chinese, what can they do with that information? Vocabulary in isolation is not useful to the learner, no matter how old or young they are. But, selecting appropriate materials for the age and language level of the learner is not easy. Our previous posts "Why Authentic Content is Best at Any Level" and "Learn Mandarin with Chinese Teletubbies" address this issue.
I highly recommend this series of articles on how to increase your listening practice and identify appropriate content for that practice.
Articles in this series
Problem analysis http://www.hackingchinese.com/?p=1595
Background listening http://www.hackingchinese.com/?p=1596
Passive listening http://www.hackingchinese.com/?p=1597
Active listening http://www.hackingchinese.com/?p=1598
Listening speed http://www.hackingchinese.com/?p=1603
Deliberate practice and i+2 http://www.hackingchinese.com/?p=1604
Social and motivational aspects (not yet published)
Indirect ways of improving listening ability (not yet published)
Audio resources (not yet published)