With YouTube, internet, mail-order books, etc., gone are the days when learning materials and pedagogy are some of the major limiting factors for kids to learn Chinese well, particularly for families with resource and/or Chinese-speaking heritage families. Time management, learning efficiency, competent bilingual-biliterate instructor at home (usually one of the parents), and priorities are.
We simply can’t get around the fact that there are only 24 hours a day. Speaking proficiency depend largely on having the chance to practice speaking with others who have at least equivalent proficiency. Certainly, read-aloud of conversational or more colloquial text certainly help. Listening to lots of TV shows, like what “哈佛妹 Harvard Girl” Avalon and many others suggested, certainly help but requires the chance to practice speaking also. Reading proficiency comes from having the chance to do plenty of reading. All these require one thing – TIME!
Parents, once again, have to choose their priorities. How important is Chinese and how much time should the children devote to Chinese, instead of other activities, whether they are academic or extracurricular pursuit? To this end, time management and learning efficiency become ever so important, and having a competent bilingual-biliterate instructor available at home help tremendously. How much “gap” to open and know-how of “closing the gap” in a timely fashion can therefore be of primary importance.