My name is Yoko from Tianjin China. I have been teaching Mandarin in secondary schools for 12 years. I came from the Mandarin teachers recruitment program for the Education Department. Through my years’ experience in teaching, I get a deeper and deeper insight in the process of acquiring a foreign language and also the influence of the second and the third languages from one’s mother tongue. For kids, the golden period to acquire languages starting from 2.5-5 years old. Parents are highly recommended to let their kids start at 2.5 years old as it will guarantee a smooth growth and solid foundation in the targeted language. For adults, they will need more motivation, a bit innate talent and more hard work. I have encountered many parents who worry about their children getting confused with learning a few languages together. In most cases, it is not a problem at all. They can figure them out and acquire all at a younger age. Acquiring a foreign language is definitely a valuable asset and horizon broadening experience throughout one’s lifelong journey.
It is easy to learn the speaking part for any age. For the reading and writing part, kids starting from an early age should take all at the same time. While children, teenagers and adults will take much more patience and effort to learn all at one time.
For kids from 2.5-4, 1-2 years can make a very solid foundation for them to become like an native speaker. For children after 4, they will need to learn in more frequency in order to be fluent. For adults, they can manage themselves in many situations in Mandarin after studying hard for 1 year. For total beginners, a short cut to manage basic conversation will need 3 months and at least twice a week lessons.
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