Is it too early to enrol my child who is only 1 year old to enrichment classes, especially the English or Mandarin classes?
Most recent research in the United States suggests children can become equally effective in a second language. Further, bilingual people who are equally strong in two languages tend to do better in I.Q. tests. They are thought to benefit from having their thinking stretched and awareness expanded early.
Children should begin learning a second language as early as possible. So says Colin Baker, Professor of Bilingual Education at the University of Wales and author of ‘An Encyclopaedia of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education’. We learn language best before the age of six, so parents should take advantage of these key language learning years from 0-6 years old. From birth, a child’s senses are absorbing the sounds around him. His brain is storing the complex patterns that make up language and his windows of language are open wide to absorb it most easily. After the age of six, our ability to learn language decreases as we get older, as anyone who has struggled to learn a language as an adult will attest to!
In Chengzhu Mandarin centre, the adult accompanied Mandarin PlayNest programme is designed for children aged 6-18 months. At this age, children are going through a stage of rapid development in sensory perception and emerging social awareness. The Mandarin PlayNest class provides children with many opportunities for all aspects of development.
When children and caregivers enter our spacious and cozy classroom, they get the opportunity to learn together as they engage in free play on the safe and comfortable mats. Often, a child will grab a toy and stagger towards another child, babble something, then move away. During snack time, when children taste different types of organic food, it’s common to observe them, bowl in hand, beckoning to their teachers for more. In such an environment, children have access to more playmates, contributing to the formation of their social awareness, and allowing them to become more receptive to others.
Children particularly enjoy drama time, when teachers enact a story. Even at such a young age, children will sit on the mat and watch with great interest. These experiences help children to develop cognitive skills such as paying attention, and processing visual and auditory information.
In Mandarin PlayNest, children learn Mandarin naturally. Teachers interact with children in standard Chinese, while focusing on their holistic development. In this way, Mandarin is caught, rather than taught.
Principal of Chengzhu and Mandarin Programmes