How we teach & how your child learns Mandarin with us
Mandarin Chinese (Huáyǔ 华语/華語, Guóyǔ 國語, Pǔtōnghuà 普通话) has traditionally been taught in a serious/ academic style due to cultural or societal expectations and norms, but this does not suit every child or every family. We also do not use class time to work on art & craft “language” activities or colouring-in pages – unless we are specifically teaching art and craft vocabulary 🙂 Class time is precious and time is better spent on active learning and social interactions vs. a child quietly concentrating on colouring the sun shape in yellow.
These are the key guidelines we follow in planning and evaluating our lessons:
What we learn has to be useful in everyday life. We focus on teaching common, high frequency vocabulary and grammar structures – not something you’ll never use again in a normal conversation.
Our lessons are song and games-based, active, using real items and materials familiar to the children, hands on, and stimulate the senses. We’re also inspired by the Montessori philosophy – learning by doing (and exploring), finding joy in learning and self-discovery 🙂
Relevant to age/stage
What do the children like at that age/stage? We also include pop culture e.g. popular songs, dance, a “coolness” factor.
Everyone is part of the class, and has something relevant to do. We don’t want you to just be waiting around.
Teachers are ready to get right into it with the children
Our teachers are expected to perform for the children, be close in, at the children’s eye levels, engaging, and maintain eye contact as much as possible (we don’t want teachers’ backs turned to the children). Our teachers are prepared to have fun and not worried about feeling silly around the children 😉
Opportunity for the child to speak
The children are able to attempt to speak, practise the language, ask questions or make comments. It is a two-way class, not a one way from teacher-to-child.
Children participate meaningfully and while the class can be a little crazy fun, it will not be overhyped to the point where the learning opportunity becomes lost.
For many children and families, this will be the main time of the week where they are hearing Mandarin, so it is best for everyone’s learning to spend the class time fully immersed in Mandarin. The teachers will be talking in Mandarin only, and strongly encouraging children to do so as well (subject to learning levels etc too of course!).
Easy to explain and understand
With our full immersion style of classes, our teachers’ body language, eye contact, facial expressions and showing by doing are vital for foreign language learners. Our teachers will not be rattling off instructions . A good test is if the (non-fluent) Community Manager looks clueless listening to them speak, they need to rethink how they communicate 🙂
No material rewards
No stickers or sweets or other material rewards are given because we seek to celebrate the children’s language growth and achievements by verbal acknowledgement. This keeps the focus on learning the language for the sake of the class and learning process, not for the sticker or sweet at the end of it.
Written Chinese characters are correctly taught
We teach the written characters using the correct order of strokes, not by drawing pictures or making them look like something they shouldn’t be.
Acknowledging that Chinese culture means different things to different people
It’s easy to generalise “Chinese”, but actually, being Chinese means many different things to different people. There are similarities and differences in Chinese culture, traditions & even language between Chinese people from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, America, 1st, 2nd+ generation New Zealanders with Chinese heritage, etc. We wish to acknowledge and appreciate all of these similarities and differences, and help children and families gain a wider Asia awareness.
Copyright 2013-2017. Ni Hao Children’s Community.