Tuesday, 23 August 2016

How I teach mandarin at home

Most, if not all, of Doll's kindergarten friends are attending tuition such as reading, mandarin and math classes. But Doll has none of that. Occasionally, I do get a bit jittery, wondering if she is missing out. Yet at the same time, I refuse to start her so early on tuition, it's just not right for me. I also refuse to allow all those tuition centers to capitialise on my fears and suck my money out from me.

But truth be told, I did try her out for a trial at a popular Chinese tuition center. I have  heard raving reviews of the center and never once heard of any kid who dislike the school. I was confident that Doll would love it there, even more so when I saw her skipping to the class with excitement. Who knew, she came out bawling and later resisted any suggestions to attend such classes. It's not the center's fault. She cried because she felt she couldn't keep up and got worried. 
It seems that all signs are pointing toward no tuition for her. Hence I try to do what I can with her at home to help her keep at pace with her peers. I don't aim for her to be advance, I just want her to be prepared enough for primary school. Neither do I have hour long lessons with her at home. We are usually done within 15 minutes- almost daily, well I try daily. 

One of the obvious aspect is for her to read in both languages. As with my earlier post, she's well into reading and I don't need to worry about that anymore. But mandarin is a challenge because we aren't fluent in mandarin. My husband speaks no mandarin. And I speak, ok but not -rich-in-vocabulary mandarin. So yeah, we are in trouble. Yet, I refuse to send her for Chinese tuition- yet. Like getting her on the road to reading English using Peter and Jane series, I got her to learn to read Mandarin using books published by Berries tuition center. 

These books are meant for students attending the courses by Berries. But non students like me, can get hold of these books second hand. I bought mine from another mummy but I noticed the second hand book shops at Bras Basah sells a ton of them too! It's easily available. 

Like Peter and Jane books, I task Doll to read the berries books aloud everyday. Whilst she reads a page a day from Peter and Jane books, she is to read a chapter repeatedly everyday from Berries book. Once she is proficient in that chapter we move on to the next chapter. We have now completed book 2 of k1 level (mine are the old version) and are now on to book 3 ( there are 4 books in all). 

Now there are many many Chinese readers resources out there but Berries books are my number one choice. Like Peter and Jane books, the words are repeatitive and new words are introduced at a gradual pace. It aims to build the child's vocabulary slowly, one chapter at a time. Over time, the child would accumulate enough words to read a simple Chinese book by herself. 

As she recognizes more words, it is also easier to communicate with her in mandarin. At least now she has a bank of mandarin words in her brain and she can understand alittle. I can't say she can understand a lot (she complains that she doesn't understand her Chinese teacher at school) but we will get there- I hope (gulp). 

I don't just get her to read the books. I know over time she may be just memorizing the words. So I made our own flashcards. I made sure she knows each and every individual word. I would even ask her what the word means and what other words can it be paired up with  i.e she reads "生" and she's expected to say "生日的生"。

That's not the end. I even came up with my own worksheet according to her reading. I want her to be very sure in what she reads in the book before moving on. In the worksheet I created, I set questions to test her words recognition. I deliberately put words that look similar and test her to see if she can distinguish the two. 

I also set word order questions where she has to rearrange the words in the correct sentence structure. 
And also, comprehension passages. All the words in the passage are words that she has learn to read and understand from the book. 

I seriously think it's more stressful for her to be taught under me than going to the centers. Yet, she refuses to budge and wants me to teach her instead. Oh well. 


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