Saturday, 19 May 2018

Our Chinese journey

One year ago, we started sending Kai and Yang for Chinese enrichment. Kai wasn't too keen in the beginning but went on anyway. He likes his teacher and takes part in class activities but still does not speak Mandarin. We "overheard" two of his classmates telling their parents that "he doesn't/can't speak Chinese" and one of them was 100% angmoh *.* Yang was crying for a few sessions before settling in. He seemed to be participating in class when we peeked in but during end-of-term open class, he was not participating, claiming shyness.

Given that we are now much further from Chengzhu, Sito and I scouted for a few Chinese schools in our area. But they are mills! Weekly lessons with no term breaks. Some twice weekly! And it's all words and writing. Where are the stories and role play? We realised Chengzhu is really good at making lessons enjoyable.

From April, we started sending them for Chinese speech and drama enrichment in their preschool. Kai wanted me to cancel it and send him for English speech and drama instead but after the first session, he told me he enjoyed it and not to cancel it. I was so thrilled. Yang, on the other hand, refused to go for the first class, and had to be cajoled into his second with promise of a doughnut. But once in, he enjoyed it.

Kai prefers speech and drama to Chengzhu coz there is no work; Chengzhu is better than the mills we saw but it still has some written work based on the story of the fortnight. Yang hasn't stated a preference but I notice that he has been speaking Mandarin a lot these days. And speech and drama is cheaper too. Seems like it's a no brainer that it's time to switch.

So we did. Did the paper work two Sundays back. This will be their final term.

And I'm glad we made this choice. These two weeks, they boys are really speaking a lot more Mandarin. Kai sang a little rhyme to me. I also walked into his room to find that he had been doing some writing while I was sending Yang to bed.

All from memory

I told Sito about this last night.

Sito: Can he write 奶奶? (coz he found it very different last time!)
mf: Please, he can write 谢谢 lor!!

Anyway, his name has a lot of strokes already. This morning, he was examining Yang's Chinese name on his shoe cubby and asked me how many strokes there were in Yang's "Zhen", which is different from his. He then went around to look at the other shoe cubbies - I think he was examining the Chinese names :)

And Yang is more willing than his brother to use the language. At bedtime, he often goes 我看见月亮,我看见一个星星,我看见巴士!:)

They still speak with each other in English, though the other day, I heard them counting 1-20 in Mandarin. Quite cute :)

The environment is really important. Kai spent the most time in his old school. Now in a majority local school, he's picking up Mandarin so much faster and with less resistance. Yang is definitely using it more. Hope to see and hear more from the two of them! :)

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