View Full Version : Chinese speaking toddler

06-02-2013, 10:27 PM
I'm about to begin looking after a toddler who speaks only Chinese at home. He hasn't been looked after by anyone outside his family before. Mum is bilingual (absolutely no communication probs with her at all), Dad speaks a bit of English (enough to communicate care needs etc).

Anyway, apparently he is reluctant to be bilingual (parents wish him to be bilingual, as his older brother is). He can get upset if only spoken to in English. I'm slightly concerned about this and willing to learn a bit of Chinese myself.

Mum is going to write down a list of phonetic words to help me and she's bringing some food to show me next week too (he's not keen on Western food, but they are keen for me to do a bit of both).

I wondered if anyone out there had any advice? Do you know of any good Chinese language resources? Any other ideas which might help?


07-02-2013, 12:14 AM
Can't help you with any Chineese!
You may find that once in your setting he may be more willing to speak English as he will quickly realise that is what others understand! Chances are that he knows more than he lets on. He may have learnt that if he gets upset at home family members revert to Chineese but will find this won't be the case with you.
Sounds like parents are keen for him to start speaking English so they will be supportive.
Enjoy learning some Chineese!!

07-02-2013, 07:41 AM
Cant help I'm afraid, but what a great experience, would be for me.If the parents want you to speak english to him i would do that but learn some chinese words as well.but I would introduce western food gradually.It's going to be a big change for him so kindness is the key word.

07-02-2013, 11:04 AM
Yes - I'm really quite excited!

I'm good at French and find accents / sounds easy, so hopefully learning a few basic words will be ok. Will see if I can find a good source of info with phonetics and soundclips.
I love cooking anyway and am really looking forward to introducing Chinese food on a regular basis. So the food session next week will be fun.

07-02-2013, 11:10 AM
Don't know if its any use, or accurate but I have a translator app on my phone called say hi. I used it when long after a lo from Russia. Some things translated well others not so well. Hth

07-02-2013, 12:10 PM
Ni hao!

Try this for a start
BBC - Learn Chinese with free online lessons (http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/chinese/)

I used to work in an international school and taught English to sixth formers from Hong Kong as well as mainland China. There wasn't much call for me to speak it, but I did learn the basics. I'll try and dig out my old teaching aids.
I'm assuming the family speak Mandarin?

07-02-2013, 01:38 PM
I can't help with the chinese but am in the same position with an Italian 2 year old. I learnt 10 words on my first day and she has learnt "Pink" and "Tickle" - all important stuff! The only thing I find difficult is soothing her when she gets upset and is saying "Mama, mama", (she has also never been left with anyone) I asked mum to teach me to say "Mummy's coming back soon" in Italian so that I can at least try to reassure her. Good luck and have fun.

07-02-2013, 01:59 PM

I looked after a one year old Chinese boy last year and parents were same as yours in terms of language. I did try to learn some words but the mum said it is hard as there are different dialects too. For example I made a mothers day present and translated it in Google translate and wrote it out in chinese :panic: but when she looked up my written version I had written - mummy as in a mummy that is in a tomb not a mother - she thought it was really funny - as did I - and she was pleased I had tried!! They were keen for me to speak to him in English to help him - as she spoke only chinese at home....

Hope this helps...


07-02-2013, 02:23 PM
i've just done some training on this(not chinese ,language/bilingual )they say LO will pick english up really quickly,they said pictures/photos of everyday things ..highchair,pram ,cup,dinner,nappy,bed etc can be a great help.apparently it takes less than 2 years for a LO to be fluent in both languages,

07-02-2013, 02:47 PM
I had a child of almost 3 just one day a week who didn't speak English. I learned conversational terms in her language and we had a little communication book, an a6 ringbinder with laminated pictures of everyday objects with the actual word in her language, the phonetic version of her language so that I could say it to her and the English. Started out with the basic necessities such as milk, toilet, bed, food, etc. Added things each week, so one week we were doing a puzzle with shapes and she repeated 'triangle'. I then added simple shapes to her book. She took it home and brought it back and really enjoyed looking through it and pointing, pointing, pointing!

I know we shouldn't have favourites but... I loved having that child. I only had her alone on that day, so we spent a whole day a week talking, talking. She didn't talk for the first two months, just watched. Then she spent a month or so pointing and saying 'this' to absolutely everything, over and over. Then the floodgates opened and it was lovely, really really exciting to watch how rapidly she absorbed English.

She left for a nursery, sadly. Would have loved.to have had her longer.

07-02-2013, 03:01 PM
Thank you!

I think it's Mandarin, but will check!

07-02-2013, 04:48 PM
Mandarin is one of the languages on the app i mentioned earlier. Maybe it will be useful x

hectors house
07-02-2013, 05:29 PM
My local library has a dual/language childrens book section - ours has lots of chinese books - I used to borrow them when I looked after a Japanese boy - as the pictures showed oriental children - I did show the children the different writing but didn't attempt to read them.

You could ask the mum to tell you about important days in the Chinese calendar (other than chinese new year), the mum of the japanese boy told us about a special day for boys that they celebrate in Japan and she printed off some lucky fishes for the children to make.