MumsTalk : Worried about Chinese?

Some time during the June Holidays, R had the opportunity to join the KidStartNow Show and Tell Holiday Camp and he loved it! Read about his wonderful experience in Shirley’s review. This December will be Wey’s turn to go to the Show and Tell Holiday Camp and I can’t wait for him to benefit from the programme like how R has.

Wey has been widely exposed to Mandarin at school and at enrichment classes but being from an English Speaking family, he is naturally less willing to use the language. When he was young, he did not like it when I played Chinese CDs because it was a totally foreign language to him. That prompted me to opt for a full Mandarin pre-school programme and I must say it has helped a lot! For the first 2 years of preschool, he had 3 hours of full Mandarin and he grew to accept that it was normal that people spoke a language other than English.

One saving grace is that although he may not speak the language fluently, he is not shy about that and will speak Mandarin when required. Reading is a challenge although I feel that he is probably way better than I was at his age! These days the Chinese Curriculum really scares me a lot! The words that are now found in K2 texts were probably beyond me even at P2! Do you agree?

My soon to be P1 child will be going to a Chinese as a 1st language school next year, he has no clue but his mama is nervous… yikes! I don’t want to pass on my fears but I am worried.

Since most Mummies would be starting to plan the kiddos’ year-end holiday programmes right now, I thought it would be great to check in with KidStartNow on their December Superhero Holiday Camp. More information about the camps at the end of post.

I had the great opportunity to have a chat with Dan Tang, Director of KidStartNow, who kindly shared with me some tips about Kids and Chinese!


Hi Dan,

Thanks for taking time to answer some of the questions that may be on most Mummies’ minds about Chinese.

Can an English Speaking Kid really like Chinese? 
English speaking kids can definitely enjoy and excel at Chinese, and many of our students who come from English speaking families are topping their classes and getting full marks for 听写.

The reason why some kids from English-speaking families dislike Chinese is they see no purpose in Chinese as they only use it in class and associate it with tedious tasks like spelling and worksheets. To counter this, it’s important for kids to see purpose in Chinese, from reading fun Chinese books to going for enjoyable Chinese class (a good teacher makes a huge difference), etc. For instance, one of our top students is Caucasian and despite having zero Chinese exposure at home, he enjoys reading Journey to the West in Chinese.

Are there any short cuts to learning and loving Chinese? I find it so difficult to read Chinese books to my son and I worry he gets the vibe from me (that I don’t really love the language). What can a parent do if they are not conversant in Chinese?

There are really no short cuts to learning Chinese or loving it. One of the best ways to help kids learn Chinese is to weave Chinese into daily life by designating a day or an activity/playtime for Chinese.

Another great way is to encourage kids to read Chinese books as reading is critical to helping children develop a love for languages and improves vocabulary and sentence structure as well. For parents who are less confident in reading to their kids, we would recommend using either animated storybooks that comes with audio read-aloud or other apps with similar functionality.

How is KidStartNow Programme unique and helpful for kids?

We are unique in that we are only focused on English-speaking kids, and we do so in three ways:
  • We hire only A+ teachers that genuinely love teaching kids and are incredibly patient (critical for English-speaking kids)
  • We focus on encouragement and growth mindset – kids are told they are good at Chinese and are rewarded with digital coins and stickers for trying
  • We are the only Chinese centre to create our own animated storybooks, which are incredibly effective at helping kids build interest and vocabulary (www.boshipanda.com)

Having met so many kids in your programme, what do you think is the main obstacle to them speaking and loving the language?

According to a study on bilingual kids trying to learn English and Spanish, a minimum of 20-25 hours exposure per week to the second language is required to ensure kids don’t dislike the second language. Lack of exposure is probably the biggest problem why many Singaporean kids dislike speaking and using the language. In addition, when parents revise Chinese with kids, it typically involves a lot of flash cards and writing practice (for primary school kids, it’s probably spelling practice), which can turn kids off the language as most of their exposure to Chinese involves drilling and tedium. While this is necessary, we recommend including more reading to your kid in the mix.

In your opinion, what are some of the common mistakes that parents make in getting their children to learn the language?

The most common mistake is being too impatient: getting comfortable with Chinese takes time, especially if your kid currently lacks confidence in Chinese. When your child refuses to speak or read Chinese, do not worry or express displeasure and instead praise your child for baby steps and encourage your child to keep on trying. Sometimes we see parents who criticise their kids for being bad at Chinese and this can have a very big impact on their confidence.

Do you have any tips to help improve Chinese especially for a soon to be P1 kid?

From our experience, the biggest challenges for P1 kids are han yu pin yin and Show and Tell. For han yu pin yin, if your child’s preschool hasn’t taught han yu pin yin in K2, we advise teaching your child at least the basics as primary schools teach han yu pin yin extremely quickly. Show and Tell is an aspect that many kids fear as even if they are fluent in Chinese, many kids get nervous speaking in front of a group. For kids who like to draw, a fun exercise we do is get kids to draw a picture and have them explain the picture in Chinese, and to praise them for trying.

Confession Reflections … (Where’s that sweat emoticon??!! hehehe)

After hearing out what Dan had to share, I know I am guilty of being impatient (sigh!) and quite frankly as Dan mentioned, the times spent on Chinese at home have all been about completing homework assignments and learning 听写!!! Nothing fun at all! 😦 really have to change that somehow. I may have to start scouting for some good Chinese Stories that come with Audio CDs… Done that for English and we listen to stories in the car all the time but erh… nothing done for Chinese… Oouch!


HOLIDAY CAMP INFORMATION

It’s no wonder why the camp is a popular one since its central focus is on Superheroes! Just the right fun stuff to make young energetic ones tick. I’m pretty sure that Wey will be more than excited to go to this Show and Tell fun camp, to be immersed in a fun-filled action adventure environment and join the superheroes to save Baby Panda from the evil villain! Which kiddo won’t want to save the world? haha… Do book early as class sizes are small to remain effective and they are popular and fill up quickly! See schedule and info below.

kidstartnowholi

Role-playing and Conversation Camp (3-6 year olds, 4 days @ 2 hours daily)

  • Develops confidence in Chinese Auditory & Oracy skills through role-playing activities
  • Aligned to latest MOE P1 teaching policy
  • More fun and less academic vs regular enrichment classes
  • Develops interest in reading and learning Chinese through animated storybooks
  • Focus on values ~ Sharing & Cooperation
  • Taught by experienced & passionate teachers in a class of maximum 8 students

Fees : $295 per child per camp  ($55 discount per child if parents sign up in groups of 2+)

Show & Tell and Word-Recognition Camp (6-8 year olds, 4 days @ 2 hours daily)

  • Focus is on preparing kids for show and tell in primary school by boosting vocabulary and oral confidence
  • Strengthens foundation in reading and word recognition through animated storybooks
  • Some role-playing activities as well, together with a show and tell presentation in front of classmates on the last day
  • K2 kids who join this camp must have a requisite level of spoken Chinese
  • Develops interest in reading and learning Chinese through animated storybooks
  • Taught by experienced & passionate teachers in a class of maximum 10 students

Fees : $295 per child per camp  ($55 discount per child if parents sign up in groups of 2+)

kidstartnow1

Check out Special Offers here http://www.kidstartnow.com/special-offers/holiday-camp

Role-playing Show and Tell
Nov 24-27 (11:30-1:30pm) Nov 24-27 (9-11am)
Dec 1-4 (9-11am) Dec 1-4 (9-11am)
Dec 1-4 (4-6pm) Dec 1-4 (4-6pm)
Dec 8-11 (9-11am) Dec 8-11 (9-11am)
Dec 8-11 (11:30-1:30pm) Dec 8-11 (11:30-1:30pm)
Dec 15-18 (9-11am) Dec 15-18 (9-11am)
Dec 15-18 (4-6pm) Nov 28, Dec 5, 12, 19 (Sat, 9-11am)
Nov 28, Dec 5, 12, 19 (Sat, 9-11am) Nov 28, Dec 5, 12, 19 (Sat, 11:30-1:30pm)
Nov 28, Dec 5, 12, 19 (Sat, 11:30-1:30pm) Nov 29, Dec 6, 13, 20 (Sun9:30-11:30am)
Nov 28, Dec 5, 12, 19 (Sat, 4-6pm)
Nov 29, Dec 6, 13, 20 (Sun, 9:30-11:30am)

KidStartNow also runs regular classes and if you are keen for a trial class, do call them to make arrangements as the trial costs only $10! Otherwise, if you have more questions on their programmes, they are easily reached by email, Facebook message, phone/whatsapp, or live chat support!

Dan is really friendly on the phone and I must say I am really looking forward to visit them soon in December! Hope you do too 🙂

If you have any tips about getting your little ones to love and learn the language, do share them with us and comment! I would love to learn from your experience! 🙂 Thank you for joining us on SAys! Happy Mums.  If you liked what you’ve read on our blog, please follow us on Facebook for the latest updates.  We hope to see you back again soon.

SAys! Audrey 🙂

ABOUT KidStartNow

KidStartNow

Bedok (Map)  
209 New Upper Changi Road, #03-649, S(460209)
2 mins walk from Bedok MRT and located above Sheng Siong supermarket and KFC
Tel: (+65) 6481-1932 / 9820-7272
Opening Hours : Tuesday – Friday 9am to 6pm| Saturday – 9am to 6pm| Sunday – 9am to 1:30pm
All photos unless otherwise stated belong to KidStartNow. Please do not reproduce any of the photos for any purposes unless prior written approval has been given.
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About SAys! Happy Mums

We are a Singapore Mum Blog hosted by BFFs Shirley & Audrey. We blog about our children, parenting and family lifestyle. Most often than not, we find ourselves immersed in family and kids entertainment and can't escape from the lure of great food!

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