Welcome to my first post. For this ocassion, I would like to start by sharing with you the origins of Kids Talk Spanish. When teaching Spanish to Chinese native speakers was just an idea, there were plenty of questions on my mind:
What are Chinese parents looking for when they hire a teacher?
Are foreign languages important in Chinese society?
Why would parents hire me instead of another teacher? How can I stand out with respect to that?
From that moment, I knew I needed a parent’s point of view to understand the expectations of Chinese parents about foreign languages. And I found it! Mrs. Wu, a dedicated mum that takes care of her daughter’s education, helped me visualize the essence of Kids Talk Spanish.
Mrs. Wu is the mum of Dora, a young girl who is 9 years old. I met them when I was living in Ningbo (China), and we clicked immediately. I became her Spanish teacher, and Dora is still learning Spanish (she just got her A2 level through DELE). I decided to interview Mrs. Wu on her thoughts about learning a foreign language.
This is an interesting topic, isn’t it? So keep reading the post and don’t forget to share your comments below. And thank you for being here!
Mrs. Wu, as a parent, why do you think it is important to learn languages?
Since my daughter was 3 years old, I knew that languages were going to be a key pillar of her education. Learning a foreign language gives the brain an excellent workout and definitely improves memory, the ability to multitask, and better listening skills (Dora plays piano).
Another reason is diversity. We are a big, powerful country, but we are not alone. In the future, my daughter will take on her professional career surrounded by people from over the world, and she must be prepared to be able to communicate and work internationally. No matter what your job is, languages can open up opportunities.
My last reason, but not the least, is that it enhances your cultural knowledge and makes you more empathetic.
Languages are as beautiful as music.
And is it not enough to learn English? Why?
It is great, but it is not enough. Nowadays, English is a mandatory subject in our schools, so a high percentage of the Chinese population will speak English in the future. What that means is that it won’t make as much of a difference.
Learning more languages will make your child special.
Why did you choose Spanish?
In 2050, Spanish will be the second-most spoken language in the world after Chinese. Currently, Spanish is the official language in more than 20 countries. If you want to visit or work in most of the countries of Latin America, Spanish is the official language. Even in the EUA you hear Spanish! Learning Spanish definitely opens up a lot of opportunities.
Your daughter has been learning Spanish since she was 4 years old. Why did you want to have Dora start taking Spanish lessons when she was so young?
It was a decision I put a lot of thought into. I did some research and saw the benefits of learning languages at a young age. Because each language has its own tones and pronunciations, languages train mouth’s flexibility and its muscles. The learner gains the ability to learn more languages faster. Therefore, learning languages at a young age is the best time.
Do you think learning Spanish will help Dora in her professional career?
Learning Spanish will give her more choices in life. Dora will have the opportunity to make cross-cultural friendships and international networking connections. Her career opportunities won’t be limited to any geographical region.
While we’re talking about learning, what are you looking for in a teacher?
I’m very selective with Dora’s teachers because they are part of my daughter’s education, and they influence her values and behavior. For me, teachers must have a sense of responsibility, and experience teaching children. Patient, cheerful, but at the same time rigorous and professional.
As a language teacher, I would add a neutral accent and cultural knowledge of their country.
How do you think Dora can learn better? By practicing real language to communicate with Spanish people? Or through repetition? Songs? Storytelling?
Dora learns by listening and reading, storytelling (especially at dinnertime or before bed), with songs, fun activities, and interactive games. Depending on her age, she will learn by using more challenging learning methods.
What do you expect a teacher to do in class?
Each child has a learning style, and I expect the teacher to adapt to the student, not the other way around. Also, the activities must be engaging and age-appropriate for the student. When the class is online, I like to see games, hands-on activities, and even some physical activities.
For me, communication with the teacher is essential. I want to know how Dora is doing and support her learning as much as I can.
What do you want Dora to learn from the teacher?
The language is important, of course, but I also want the teacher to teach her about the culture and values of their own culture. It’s useless to learn a language if you don’t know the customs and habits of this new country. Do you know that Spanish people greet each other with two kisses on the cheek? I want Dora to feel confident and comfortable wherever she is.
What are the most important values that a teacher should have?
(Mrs. Wu): Responsibility, empathy, positivity, and love.
Thank you so much, Mrs. Wu!