There are many Chinese enrichment centres in Singapore. What should I look for when choosing the right centre for my child?
People are realising that Mandarin doesn't need to be a subject that's terribly dry, taught through tuition, or something that children hate. What we've seen is a big change in how people are tackling it. And how people are tackling that is by having more fun as they learn. Singaporean children are no longer learning Mandarin just to pass exams or get good grades. They want to immerse themselves in the culture and in so doing believe they will also enjoy learning the language. Initially the emphasis is on the spoken, rather than reading and writing, this is a far more effective way to learn.
We believe that the best way to learn for young children is through play. We are always tailoring programmes to suit individual needs to facilitate learning. While a child from a Chinese-speaking home may be given more conversational instruction, different educational strategies are used for the other students. If the child comes from an Indian family or a Malay family or a Western family, we play games or music or do some cultural activities, to enable them to feel the culture. When you learn any language you must understand the culture so we can do brush painting, or make dumplings or like tell Monkey King stories with the teacher making the Monkey King movements. When they're immersed in language through the cultural activities, children will enjoy learning the language.
When children are excited and happy, they learn most easily. So it follows that a relaxed, fun-filled environment is key. The final ingredient and the most important link in the process of learning a language is the person who models that language: the teacher. The more creative the model, the more the child will become imaginatively involved and learn subconsciously, through play. There is no room for destructive criticism or negative comments. What the child needs is praise for effort, celebration of success, joy and laughter. If the learning process itself is a joy, it will lead to a lifetime of enjoyable communication.
Principal of Chengzhu and Mandarin Programmes