How We’re Teaching Our Baby Chinese

Bee seems to be a typical first child – incredibly active, very verbal and filled to the brim with endless curiosity. She’s the type of baby who entered her tantrum stage early, quickly forming opinions about what color fruit she’d like, which boots she wants to wear and – perhaps the oddest tantrum we’ve experienced – where the pocket on her shirt is placed (I know). For Bee, every moment is an opportunity to learn something about the world in which she lives. And for me – her mother – I relish teaching her that the world in which she lives is much bigger than her own backyard.


Earlier this year, my husband expressed interest in teaching her Mandarin Chinese. She loves learning new words and phrases and the timing seemed perfect to dip our toes into the waters of exposing her to a second language. The only problem? Neither of us know a lick of Chinese, and the process of learning side-by-side seemed rather intimidating. Here was our solution:

From immersion learning to interactive apps, there’s no shortage of resources to introduce second languages to babies. But we wanted the learning process to be fun, not rigorous. So instead of purchasing DVDs and downloading apps, we simply asked a few friends if they knew of a Chinese-speaking women who might want to play with Bee for a few hours a week. We were lucky enough to find a gem in a local mother who LOVES babies and who was happy to oblige to our three simple requests: play with Bee, have fun, and speak only Chinese!

At first, we were hesitant that Bee would pick up on any Mandarin words, but after a few playdates with her new friend, Bee has learned a slew of Chinese phrases like “Thank you” (Xiexie), “Please” (Qing) and “Eat” (Chi).

It’s been such a joy watching her soak up a new language in a fun, easy fashion, and she loves spending time with her new friend. Tell me, are you teaching any second languages to your babies? And if so, how are you tackling the process? I’d love to hear!

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