My wife doesn’t speak Mandarin at all, and mine is only so so, so we struggle with giving them adequate Mandarin here in the US. I sense that our 6 year old really needs some full immersion for a month or two to come up to the same comfort level with his Mandarin that our 4 year old is at (he comes home telling us Chinese stories his friends at daycare have told him).
I’ve been looking into summer camps here in NY but all of the Mandarin summer camps are very Asian in their pedagogy. It sounds like they sit the kids down and have them learn Chinese characters for 2 hours and that’s their “Mandarin” for the day. Then they get English cram school for another couple of hours. The afternoon is fun activities but probably in English. Some of the local parents complain about their kids not enjoying these camps. And it sounds like there’s very little Mandarin fun.
So we were thinking about bringing them to Taiwan and enrolling them in a non-academic summer camp or daycare in Taiwan for a couple of months. Our 6 year old might be able to handle daycare if they have lots of play activities most of the day like they do in the US. Our 4 year old is still in daycare anyways.
We have zero interest in their learning Chinese characters. They don’t speak Mandarin at the same level as a native speaker of the same age, so our main goal right now is to give them full immersion. Our main goal is to let them have lots of unpressured fun but in Mandarin.
What would your strategy be if you were us for local immersion fun enrollment? Is daycare fun in Taiwan?
We were in a similar situation to yourselves. we enrolled our son in local YMCA courses where they have a variety of activities - sports, science, community based ie. visit from the Police to talk about their daily activities. It is aimed at local kids but as Mandarin is the spoken language we found our sons Mandarin improved considerably. If you are considering about this route we enrolled our son at the YMCA in Beitou.
Disclaimer, not an expert on the matter…
I don’t think you need to look for a specific Mandarin summer camp. At their age, just throw them into a regular summer camp for Taiwanese kids and your kid would be learning Mandarin ASAP. If you put them into an environment where they know everyone else can speak English better than their Mandarin as well, the kids are going to be speaking English.
Better yet, let them really experience Taiwan by taking them to one of these:
Experience and learn about Aboriginal culture with other kids, as they learn Mandarin and experience nature. Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme for 4 and 6 year-olds, but there’s probably one that would fit their age range.
Is YMCA enrollment an all day, coup to nuts kind of thing? Or would we only be able to sign up for classes but someone would have to be there to pick them up in between classes. I think we’d prefer an all day kind of option.
I just found a great blog post listing a bunch of Mandarin camps, in case this helps anyone. Has anyone sent their kids to the ones listed here? I’d love to know if any of them are more play-based. Chinese/Taiwanese pedagogy tends to be very top down instructional, but I think my kids understand enough really basic Mandarin that they could just learn by interaction and activities.
Hello, I am planning on bring my 3.5 yo and 19 mo old to Taiwan this summer for immersion camp. (They will be 2 and 4 then). I want to go as local as possible. My daughter is in Mandarin immersion school in HK and both kids have had a mandarin speaking caretaker in the home since birth essentially. My daughter speaks and understand mandarin extremely well and my sin understand and now is saying many words. I do not want any English as I worry they may gravitate towards it. Can anyone recommend a local kindergarten or camp that may suit my needs. I am happy for them to test my daughter’s spoken mandarin if they need to in order to enroll her. I am happy to go to more rural areas that are away from Taipei if that is required. If anyone can guide me at all, I would really appreciate it.
Thanks so much!