About a month ago, I had one of those epically foolish mom moments. I thought it would be a good idea to ask my kids what languages they would each like to learn during this school year.
So, one morning while they were eating their Cheerios, I asked.
My 5th grade son wanted to learn Greek and…
My Kindergartner wanted to learn Mandarin.
Um… My face must have said it all. And it had to, because I was speechless. I didn’t have the least idea where to start with either language. But that’s me, jump before I look. Ask before I consider my smart kiddos deciding to learn languages I know nothing about.
But, their enthusiasm was contagious. And, I’m all for child-led learning because this mama has no time to talk her kids into doing their schoolwork.
So since that conversation, I’ve started my son on the Greek alphabet and some you-tube videos, which he’s enjoying for now.
My daughter was a different story though. Because she’s so young, she isn’t able to study on her own as easily as my 10 year old. Also, Mandarin is a tonal language so pronunciation and inflection are vital to her learning it correctly. She needed to hear it from a native speaker.
The biggest hurdle for us is that we just recently started roadschooling again and are now full-time RVer’s. This makes traditional in person lessons hard for us to manage.
*I was compensated for my time reviewing this service. All opinions are honestly mine, and I was not required to post a positive review. See my disclosures for more details.
That’s when I came across PandaTree.com.
PandaTree.com provides live, one-on-one, online foreign language lessons for kids in Mandarin and Spanish.
Benefits of in home live language lessons:
These lessons are perfect for traveling families like us. We can have the consistent lessons and have them with the same tutor by doing them in an online format. Besides, I really don’t enjoy leaving the house for classes and appointments. We love our relaxed schedule and trying to get out of the house on time for anything is difficult. Doing lessons at home means you don’t have to pile all your kids into the car to get to a lesson for just one child. Actually, you don’t even have to get out of your pj’s if you don’t want to, which… ahem, I did not.
Language Lessons with native speakers:
I know it’s important for my kids to start learning a language early. And, that they are more likely to acquire those subtle nuances of native-level pronunciation and grammar if they do. So, my goal is not to have my daughter speaking fluent Mandarin at 5. Unless she is motivated towards that goal and desires to pursue it to that point. Instead, I hope that by giving her these opportunities to hear Mandarin spoken correctly in this one-on-one way she will have a better and more authentic experience. And, that this will lead to excitement, familiarity and, then easier acquisition of the language now and in the future.
We get to be the exception:
Besides making the choice to homeschool our kids, we are also a full-time rv-ing and roadschooling family. And, we are always excited to find ways to provide our kids with unique and immersive learning experiences like this one.
What to know if your child is young:
My daughter is a very social and friendly little girl. She terrorizes her introvert mother by flagging down every little old lady in the grocery store to have a heart to heart. So, I was very excited for her to have the experience of live language lessons.
But, she’s still a 5 year old.
Her personality may be great for it, but anything can happen. Images of her running off in the middle of the lesson saying she’s “done now” and leaving me to smile dumbly at the tutor as I cajole and plead with her to come back to the screen, ran through my mind.
As it turns out, I needn’t have worried because she has been thoroughly engaged during each of her lessons so far. But, I do recommend being nearby or even sitting with your child if they’re 5 or younger. Not necessarily to keep them engaged, but to translate their child “accent” or fast speech, like I did with my daughter.
Standing by to hand them a juice box when they’re thirsty doesn’t hurt either. Just sayin’.
What to expect from your lessons with PandaTree.com:
My daughter wanted to talk a lot during the lessons we’ve had, and the tutor was conversational, but did keep bringing it back to the lesson she was teaching, which I appreciated. I want it to be fun and social for my daughter but, I also want her to learn something.
In our first lesson, my daughter experienced a little overwhelm while learning pronunciation of numbers 1-5 and the tutor immediately adjusted to do 1-3 first. When she had those down, they moved on to 4 and 5. I appreciated her quick reaction to my daughter’s needs. In a 25 minute session you don’t have time to sit and explain your child’s learning styles or give extensive suggestions.
Also, during her lessons my daughter was preoccupied with wanting to use the drawing feature at the bottom of the screen, so our tutor listened and decided to incorporate her love of art. She had my daughter write her numbers, through the drawing tools on the screen, while she pronounced them in Mandarin. It was a very personally tailored experience for my daughter.
After our sessions, PandaTree.com sends me a detailed review of everything we do during the lessons. It’s a list of the words she learned or was introduced to, and links to suggested practice which is in her Kids Hub on PandaTree.com. We’ve been back their several times to watch videos in between lessons.
PandaTree.com is offering new families a first lesson for free, which is an awesome way to decide if these lessons would be a good fit for your family and child.
Sign up for a FREE 25-Minute trial lesson in Mandarin or Spanish with PandaTree.com
If you take that free lesson, I’d love to know how it goes. Have fun!
Tza jien (Good-bye)