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Posted on : 2011-04-08 

This is a tricky question that all Chinese educators in Singapore seek to answer. With the MOE’s increasing emphasis on Mother Tongue as well as the increasing usage of Chinese language over the years, Chinese educators in Singapore are striving to get more pupils to be proficient in the language. Without a doubt, the lack of general interest in Chinese language proves to be the major obstacle for pupils. However, parents can play an instrumental role in driving the interest in Chinese learning.
Pictures speak a thousand words
A pupil once told me that seeing rows and rows of Chinese characters naturally drove her to sleep. I do not quite agree with her statement, but I do agree that using pictures and graphics can definitely help to improve the attention span of a child.
Instead of forcing a child to read a story that he or she cannot comprehend, it will benefit the child more if the parent is willing to read the story to the child instead.
The key here is to read the story and interact with the child.
Interaction involves leading the child to describe the picture using a few complete sentences. In addition, parents can also motivate their child to verbalise their thoughts after reading the story.
When choosing a storybook, parents should always remember to let their child decide the choice of book. It is better to read a story that interests a child than to read a story that will benefit a child.
Thus, interaction through reading stories is an effective way to develop a child’s interest in learning Chinese.
Incorporating into interests
When children enjoy the learning process, they will be more interested to find out more. Parents should try to link their children’s key interests and hobbies together with language learning to encourage effective learning.
For example, if a child is only interested in video games, perhaps the parents can consider purchasing Chinese video games. Not only will the child be interested to play the game, it will also stir the child’s curiosity to find out more about the contents of the game. The result is that learning becomes fun.
With proper guidance and monitoring, multimedia will prove to be a useful tool for parents to make learning Chinese an enjoyable activity.

Making it relevant

Parents can also try to incorporate Chinese in their children’s daily lives. Besides encouraging them to watch Chinese television programmes and cartoons, they can also conduct some daily conversations in the language and even teach them some popular songs as well. Parents can also encourage their children to communicate in the language with their neighbours or with shop owners and other people in the neighbourhood.
When children realise how useful and relevant the language is to their daily lives, they will be more receptive towards learning the language.

Thus, through the use of these methods, children will be more exposed to the Chinese language and will gradually grow to become competent users of the language.


Written by Eric Pang

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