After having looked at goal setting in general and some things you should avoid when setting goals for learning Mandarin with your child in part 1, it's time for some concrete suggestions for short, medium and long term goals.
Short term goal
Learn to play an age appropriate game with your child in the first two language classes.
The "Where Is" Game – This game has many variants for different age and developmental levels: peek–a-boo, hide and seek, Where's Waldo, concentration.
This game is suitable at any age for a beginning level student. It can be taken into the intermediate level with more complex vocabulary and sentence structures by adding the skill of discussing complications.
Medium term goal
Learn to do a complicated task in target language.
Going grocery shopping – focus on the sentence patterns involved in choosing food, planning breakfast, lunch and dinner, discussing what you like and don't like, paying for goods, prices, discounts, counting currency. This is a good goal for 1-3 months of language learning. Similar to the Fireman game example, it can include 1-2 songs, 10-15 sentence patterns, preferences (like, don't like, love, hate), numbers (currency, counting, expensive, cheap, too much, how much), many types of food (vegetables, fruit, meat, bread, pasta, fish).
Long term goal
Complete a textbook, finish reading a certain level of reader, watch a movie or TV series in target language.
Finishing a level of instruction such as completing a textbook or level of instruction online is something that makes a strong long term goal. It is not so far out that it cannot be relevant or measureable. Just the opposite. Completing a level is something that does take significant time and the progress can be evaluated.
The same applies to reading a book or watching a movie/TV series in target language. These are longer term goals that require repeated and concentrated work.
Learning Mandarin according to your goals
Once you have started to write down your family language learning goals, you will see that they require frequent revision. You need to look for teachers, programs and products that can help you meet these goals. A teacher who is only interested in their goals is not prepared to help you meet yours. Ask questions, look at the materials used, ask for your goals to be met. This is how you choose a teacher, program or product; by finding someone who or something that is prepared to help you achieve your goals.
If you don't find it, keep looking.
Finally, don't forget that you can be the teacher. Even if Mandarin is not your native language, you can take what you know and bring it into the home – one sentence pattern at a time.
About Chinese for Families
Chinese for Families is a Philadelphia-based Mandarin-as-second-language program. We blog about products we like (and actually use) at The Best Stuff for Kids to Learn Mandarin and maintain a Facebook page with articles of interest to families raising Asian American children.
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