On language development

Our family adopts the One Parent, One Language (OPOL) method when we communicate to the children. I would speak to Faith in Mandarin and the hubs to her in English. Faith’s first words are in Mandarin and I was mighty pleased with the progress and outcome until she was a little older, about 1.5 years old. 

As I’m the main caregiver and teacher to the children, I find that I have to split between speaking in Mandarin and English. Initially, I was concerned that Faith will be confused but apparently, she could distinguish between the two languages. What I need to do and be mindful of, is NOT to mix the languages when I speak to the children and if I should speak in either of the languages, I should do so in complete sentences and with the right intonation. This requires a fair bit of discipline and effort on my part. 

Upon attending school, Faith speaks English more than Mandarin which is not surprising even though the school spends more time in Chinese instruction (60%). Subsequently I signed her up for one more hour of Chinese class because she likes 儿歌 and I need more time to rest. Hah. Four hours of school is just right. 

Currently, Faith speaks well and more regularly in English as compared to Mandarin but she could definitely recognise more Chinese characters than English words. I didn’t leave language teaching only to the school because I believe there is much that I could teach at home. Having said that, #iamnotatigermom. 😜


Flashcards. I have quite a fair bit of them lying in the house, thanks to friends and my sister who do not have any use of them since their children have grown up. I didn’t use them until the girl was around 2 years old. A few months down the road, I bought this set of Chinese characters and got Faith to learn them. I prefer this set because the characters are big (font size) and the pictures are clear. Initially, she took quite a while to remember the words but at 3YO, it seemed her mind had opened up and she could recognise one set in a week and we moved on very quickly since then. Consistency is key. 


This set of readers helps boost Faith’s confidence in reading. Since she has learnt the characters, she could read the books on her own. You could see the pride that is reflected on her face when she completed reading each book. Priceless. 


I also signed her up for a Chinese enrichment class because I need her to acquire a love for the language. I could definitely drill her in recognising the characters but she does need the environment to speak. I have heard good review of this Chinese class and thankfully, Faith likes it! 

I do have to be honest that she was rather apprehensive in the beginning and had told me that she didn’t want to attend the class. However, by the third lesson, she was looking forward to it.✌️✌Having said that, I still see crying students in the class and they are pleading not to attend. 


I used a few materials to teach Chinese to Faith and I want to specially mention this book. The book is organised in a manner in which the highlighted character will appear in every sentence, thereby helping the child to remember the word read in context. When the child finds that she could read, it boosts the confidence which happens to Faith and she wants to go on learning the characters and reading the text. 



I have had success with using this set of books and subsequently went on to buy the whole series. #kiasumama


I wish Faith could read that well in English but I can’t expect a lot since I have not really focused on teaching her the English words apart from helping her work on her phonics. 

A few things to note: 

:: I am recording this as a reference for me to teach Dan in future.

:: Faith started off with fewer spoken words in English and I have friends who suggested that she might have speech delay but fret not, she had been storing those vocabulary words in her mind and now I wish she could give me some peace.  The seemingly fewer words could be a result of processing /storing words in both languages.

:: At home, there will always be music playing in the background and more often than not, it’s Chinese 儿歌。But when I’m reading to them, the music will have to stop. 

:: Faith could well communicate in Mandarin given the right environment. However, she much prefers to speak in English since everyone else is speaking in that language. 

:: Reading is key. Start reading even when the kid is a baby or in the womb. Read both English and Chinese books because they have the ability to distinguish the different languages. 


This kiasu mama has acquired the entire series (from Popular bookstores). This is not a sponsored post.

I really ought to be more diligent in recording what I do with Faith at home for my and Dan’s sake. #homelearning.

Stay tuned! 

Related articles:

Parentingjoy wrote a post on the use of 四五快读

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Language Power 蓝格子, 跑啊!

I read linguistics in school and after understanding more about brain development with regard to language, resolved from then on that I would want to raise bilingual child(ren) if when I have a family. Thus, in our household, the husband speaks in English and I would communicate with Faith in Mandarin .

Early childhood is the easiest time to learn multiple languages. Babies are born with billions of neurons (brain cells). They spend the first few years of life building trillions of synapses (connections) between those cells. For language especially, these first few years are the most “sensitive period” in their lives when they are primed to learn language. At 6 months, human babies are able to differentiate between any sounds that human beings make. But as children age, they begin to “prune” some of the synapses they’ve built. Connections that are important get reinforced, but things which they aren’t using in everyday life may get cut.

It is my desire that Faith grows up being an effective bilingual. While it is relatively easy communicating in simple Mandarin with her when she was an infant, I found it increasingly difficult to do so now as I would need more vocabulary in my daily conversation. What’s making it more complicated is the fact that I am also teaching her using English and I’m not sure if I am on the right track anymore.

languagepower

So, when a friend told me about this talk called ‘Language Power’ (蓝格子, 跑啊!), my interest was piqued. In the talk show, the speaker, Eeva Chang, would touch on the following (and here, I attempt to translate a few of them):

1。我会让你看见你是否有语言力量
(The participants will discover if they have language power)
2。你会体会到, 你的孩子或自己是否用了最好的方式与语言相处
(The participants will experience if they or their children are using the best method in language development)
3。我们会一起明白, 在新加坡学习语文真的如此痛苦吗
(The participants will understand if it is really that difficult to learn a language in Singapore)
4。你有机会听见自己 是如何在”运用”着自己的声音能量和语文能量。
5。你的家庭语言和学校语言到了几年级开始分道扬镳?
6。我们的社会是个语言视觉化的社会吗?
7。为什么语言视觉化可以让人的理解度大大提升?
8。新加坡的小学生最直白的心里话, 在那天会告诉你。
9。语言是遗传还是学习来的?
10。你知道,我们一直在违反语言学习的黄金定律吗?

The above are questions that I have been asking myself too and I thought it would be beneficial to hear her thoughts on them. If you don’t already know Eeva Chang, here is some information about her.

Language-Power-Talk-Final-Ed-1024x620[via]

After her university graduation, EEva was awarded the Golden Bell Award (Taiwanese Broadcasting Award’s highest accolade). She then left Taiwan to come to Singapore to fulfil her dreams. She has not left since.

The multi-talented EEva was also a winner at the ASEAN Literary Prose Awards and was also named the Best Producer at the Shanghai International Television Broadcasting Awards show. She was a Programme manager at 100.3FM as well as a presenter and programme producer at FM 95.8 and Rediffusion. I listened to her when I was a young kid and probably learnt Mandarin through that means.

On the education front, EEva was a professional trainer at MOE’s teachers training programme for 8 years. She started her own school EDUPLUS about 20 years ago and has since helped countless students in building their strong foundation in the Chinese language.

This event is the culmination of her years of experience as a Broadcaster and Educator.

Interested?

When: 20 Sept 2014, 3-5pm
Where: Resort World Theatre, Sentosa
Tickets: You may purchase your tickets from Sistic or call Rediffusion at 62888 3321 to save on the booking fee!

You can also look out for more information on her facebook page.