Recently, children at Aurora Early Education had an absolute ball of the time during their first Mandarin session, when they were intrigued by a story about animals travelling on a bus and then encouraged to form a ‘train’ and parade around the playground. They came away from the session having giggled a lot as well as learnt the Mandarin words for ‘train’, ‘bus’ and counting numbers from one to ten.
Learning a new language is always a good idea. It encourages cultural sensitivity, cognitive development and inclusiveness. In Australia today, Mandarin is an especially useful language to know as the Chinese community is growing rapidly. Additionally, the Victoria State Government has placed a focus on increasing inclusiveness in early childhood services (http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/news/archive/Pages/buildingrelationships.aspx) – one way to do this is by collaborating with Chinese educators.
When it comes to learning new languages, children have the upper hand over adults; while we struggle with pronunciations and head spinning conjugations, children take to new words and phrases like a fish takes to water.
Recognizing the benefits of learning Mandarin and with the knowledge that the early years are the best years to learn a new language, Aurora Early Education recently introduced a play-based program to teach our learners basic Mandarin. We’ll be putting on puppet shows, telling stories, playing games and teach new songs to help familiarize the children with simple vocabulary words and phrases.
Children will get the chance to play one of their favourite games – ‘shopkeeper and customer’ in Mandarin by learning the words for fruits, milk, water as well as polite phrases such as “qing gei wo” (would you please give me) and “bu ke qi” (no worries).
As they become more comfortable with words and phrases, we’ll progress to songs and dances. Our learners will be taught the “rabbit and turtle dance” and the “this little train dance”, which will get them moving, shaking and learning. They’ll also learn ‘ten little friends’ and ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ in Mandarin, performances which we’re sure they’ll want to show off at your next family gathering!
We’re sure that our learners will come home with excited stories about the games they played, the songs they’ve sung and the words they’ve learnt in their Mandarin lessons. These activities are the building blocks which will pave the way for getting a firmer grasp of the language as they get older and help them on their journey to becoming more connected, culturally aware individuals.