3 Effective Ways to Prime Your Kids For Success in P1 Chinese

The transition from preschool to primary school is perhaps one of the most challenging adaptations that your child has to make in early childhood – and if your kids aren’t already comfortable with Chinese, that makes the transition even tougher.

Some parents think their children have plenty of time before they have to start working on the material because there aren’t any official exams in Primary One. Whilst this might be true, schools still administer ‘holistic assessments’ which are, in essence, the exact same thing. So make sure your kids are well-prepared, and help them start their schooling days on a good note!

Want to know how you can help your kids prepare for P1 Chinese? Check out these three effective ways to prime your kids for success in the language:

1) Equip your kids with the right attitude

21191567 - group of primary school students holding paper saying i love chinese

If you didn’t already know, there’s a stark contrast between primary school and preschool. Class sizes are doubled, teachers are less patient, and you can expect less mollycoddling and a lot more Chinese homework. Make sure you mentally prepare your kids for this increase in workload, and equip them with the right attitude to handle their homework.

How to do this:

Before term starts, explain to your kids that they will now have more ‘responsibilities’ like more homework because they’re older, and can do more than their younger counterparts – challenging kids to do more because they are now “more mature” is a great way to get them to buy in. Get them to set goals to work towards, and challenge them to strive to do better each term.

2) Help them master Hanyu Pinyin

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Chinese exams are heavily weighted towards Hanyu Pinyin, with as much as 40% of questions in SA2 examinations being Hanyu Pinyin-related. If your child’s foundation in Hanyu Pinyin isn’t great, it’s time to rectify that!

How to do this:

Buy Hanyu Pinyin flashcards and charts from Popular Bookstore to revise with your children at home. The two most common problems that kids face are differentiation of vowel tones as well as blending of consonants and vowels – so keep an eye out for these two issues in particular!

3) Brush up on your kids’ oral skills

Props

A lot of parents focus on getting their children acquainted with the necessary vocabulary – but only in written form. As a result, kids at the primary school level often have trouble with their Show and Tell.

The good news? Most schools allow students to prepare a script in advance, so the only thing you have to help your kids deal with is conquering stage fright. You can easily do this by getting your kids to speak Mandarin at home, and holding informal show and tell sessions where they can discuss simple topics with the rest of the family.

Need some expert help?

KidStartNow’s Primary One programme is perfect for students who need help in improving their Chinese via its proprietary BOSHI method that helps your child learn smarter.

We have a proven track record of success, and our tried and tested methods have helped countless students achieve their potential and deliver impressive results. Watch the video below to find out more about our student Jue Ming, who topped Fengshan Primary School for P1 Chinese in 2016.

Sign up for a trial class now!

4 Ways to Make Even The Most Stubborn Child Enjoy Learning Chinese

 

If getting your child to learn Chinese feels like rocket science, it might just be because you’re doing it all wrong. Check out our four tried-and-tested tips that will help you transform your child’s attitude towards Chinese!

1) Be realistic

20083699 - cute asian girl writing

If you sit your child down and tell him that you’re expecting his Chinese grades to improve from a D to an A in one month, that’s not just unrealistic, it’s also highly discouraging.

It’s great to set goals to work towards, but if these goals are unrealistic, your child might feel so overwhelmed that he or she ends up paralyzed with fear. We wouldn’t want that!

Instead, make sure that you and your child are on the same page, and that both of you agree on the goal that you’re working toward. Let your child know that you understand that Chinese is tough to master, and that you believe in him and will support him throughout his journey.

If you’re not sure about what is a realistic goal to aim for, KidStartNow is offering a free Chinese language assessment where we will analyze your child’s weakness and strengths, and come up with suggestions on how he or she can improve.  

2) Adopt a growth mindset

21191567 - group of primary school students holding paper saying i love chinese

If you’re not familiar with this term, a growth mindset refers to the belief that intelligence and skills can be developed through hard work. Conversely, a fixed mindset is the belief that intelligence is a fixed asset that people either possess or lack.

According to Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, who has conducted numerous studies on this topic, a growth mindset is essential in helping students realise their potential. Students with fixed mindsets are afraid to try for fear of failing and looking foolish – and it’s the students who are hungry for growth who end up the most successful.

So how do you get your children to adopt a growth mindset, specifically in the context of learning Chinese?

Celebrate small wins and make your child feel good about his or her progress, even if it’s something as small as passing a Chinese spelling test for the first time. Also make sure you don’t discourage your kids – for example, when they speak to you in Chinese, be sure to commend them for practicing the language. Don’t simply correct their pronunciation, without acknowledging their effort.

3) Adhere to a regular weekly reading schedule

20085638 - asian girl reading

Reading is one of the best ways to build your child’s interest and proficiency in Chinese. You might encounter some resistance at the start, but the objective is to get your children proficient to the point where they actually enjoy reading Chinese material – and they’ll be hooked from there. Bonus: kids who read regular do better in Comprehension and Composition, the two key “killer sections” for primary school student.

You may borrow books from the National Library, or purchase them from Taobao. A word of caution – it’s fine to opt for simpler material to start off with, but try to avoid books with Han Yu Pin Yin, as this will result in them becoming overly reliant on it and refusing to read books without Han Yu Pin Yin.

4) Lead by example

learn_with_parent

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’ll be surprised at how many parents neglect to practice what they preach. Children look to their parents as their role models and take behavioural cues from them – so if you don’t utter a single word of Mandarin at home, it’s unlikely that they’ll learn enough to be effectively bilingual.

That having been said, there’s no need to go all out and outrightly ban English at home – simply reading the Chinese papers in front of your children, and designating ‘Speak Mandarin Days’ will go a long way in motivating them.

Your children aren’t having an easy time learning Chinese – so to avoid making it any harder than it has to be, make sure you get them to study smart instead of study hard. Instructing them to blindly memorise and regurgitate content won’t work; neither will forcing them to study without taking the time to cultivate their interest for Chinese first.

If you’re not sure where to start, register for KidStartNow’s free Chinese language assessment – we will help you analyse your child’s weakness and strengths, and come up with suggestions on how he or she can improve. Good luck!

Tips for learning Hanyu Pinyin

Hanyu Pinyin is a key concern for K2 and P1 parents and we interview two of our teachers, Li lao shi and Liu lao shi, to understand common problems students face when learning Hanyu Pinyin and some of their secret tips to help kids master it.

Why is important for my child to have a strong Hanyu Pinyin foundation before entering P1?

There is a large emphasis on Hanyu Pinyin in P1, and some schools allocate up to 40% of the mid year assessment marks to Hanyu Pinyin. It doesn’t help that primary schools teach Hanyu Pinyin very quickly, and will start testing spelling of blended words (e.g. , yǔ yī, wá wa) by the second week of school.

From experience, K2 kids that do not have a strong foundation in Hanyu Pinyin are likely to struggle in P1, leading to diminished confidence and interest in Chinese as they fall behind their peers. In addition, the larger P1 class sizes (20-30 vs 10 in preschool) makes it harder for kids to catch up.

The preschool to primary school transition can be challenging for kids, and having a strong foundation in Hanyu Pinyin makes the transition easier since it gives kids a leg up in a critical component and also helps kids learn vocabulary faster since every word in the P1 textbook has accompanying Hanyu Pinyin.

What are some of the biggest problems P1 students face when learning Hanyu Pinyin?

The majority of marks lost on tests come differentiating vowel tones and blending consonants with vowels. The following diagram is a common P1 type of question where students have to mark the correct vowel tone, and students tend to mix up the second and third vowel tone.

Vowel tone question

 

Another common problem students face is how to properly blend consonants and vowels , and in the following set of questions, students need to recognise the words corresponding to each picture and write down the correct consonant.

Blending question

 

How can I help my child learn Hanyu Pinyin?

Learning Hanyu Pinyin can be quite boring so it is important to help your child build interest first via fun activities, media and games (see the section below for an example of a game we use in class) before moving on to practice worksheets.

Typically, we recommend a three-step process when learning Hanyu Pinyin – start by ensuring your child fully understands and recognises the individual consonants and vowels (including different tones). It is important that your child masters this step before moving on to the harder steps.

We have compiled a list of Hanyu Pinyin songs on YouTube, and you can play it and have your child sing along (learning is far more effective if your child is actively singing along rather than passively listening). Once he or she is able to do this, we recommend testing your child on individual consonants and vowels (you can buy colourful Hanyu Pinyin charts at Popular, as well as the汉语拼音宝宝 flashcard series).

1.《汉语拼音歌》(单韵母和声母)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcoVki2y0Rw
2.《声母歌》
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMwmzGnN69A
3.《平扬拐弯降》(声调歌)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGUsV98a3Ng
4.《复韵母练习》
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoJQcti4K2Q
5. 《鼻韵母练习》
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqBtlCQp2Kg
6.《标调口诀儿歌》
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8RP1R76JPU

The next step is blending the consonants and vowels together to form a word. The way to master blending is through practice, and see below for the details of one of the games we use in class to make practice fun.

  1. Each child will hold on to a paper with either a consonant or a vowel. On a separate table, prepare four head pieces for each of the four tones.

Headpieces corresponding to different vowel tones

  1. The teacher will pick one child to be the narrator and will show him or her a Hanyu Pinyin word (e.g. ) on a piece of paper/portable whiteboard (only the narrator can see the word).
  2. The narrator will say out the word and the children holding the consonant and the vowel of the word (e.g. b and o) have to stand up.
  3. The child holding the vowel will have to go to the table with the four head pieces and select the head piece with the correct tone and wear it.
  4. Afterwards, each kid will say either the consonant or vowel he or she is holding up, and then say the final blended word.

Narrator PropsBlending exercises

Once your child is comfortable with blending, the final step is getting your child familiar with the Hanyu Pinyin questions tested in P1 through worksheet practice. Since many P1 Hanyu Pinyin questions also test students’ vocabulary (need to first recognise a picture or word before writing the corresponding Hanyu Pinyin), it’s important to ensure that your child is comfortable with the P1 vocabulary wordlist as well.

 

What if I want extra help?

If you would like some extra help on Hanyu Pinyin, KidStartNow is having a Hanyu Pinyin camp during the upcoming Dec holidays for K2 and P1 kids. The camp is from Nov 22-25, 11:30-1:30pm or Dec 13-16, 11:30-1:30pm and we only have a few vacancies left.

The camp will reinforce Hanyu Pinyin fundamentals, with a focus on typical problem spots faced by kids entering P1 like vowel tones and blending. The camp will include vocabulary exercises covering common words from the P1 syllabus to help kids get used to the P1 format and curriculum.

Sign up before 6st Nov 2016 to enjoy a special $30 discount ($285 vs normal price of $315) or sign up in groups of 3+ to enjoy a special rate of $260 per child($55 savings vs normal price of $315)! Leave us your details below and we will contact you within 2 working days.

Teaching kids about food

One of the best ways to help kids learn Chinese is to engage them with interesting stories and use the stories as tools to teach kids vocabulary and spark off discussions in Chinese (particularly useful for lower primary kids as practice for show and tell as well as comprehension).

This term, our kids are going on an amazing 9-part space adventure with the panda siblings to learn about robots, jobs, and food! Check out the engaging story below to learn words like 牛肉, 青菜, 面包, and 鸡饭 as well as idioms like 狼吞虎咽 and 眉开眼笑.

ORAL AND SHOW AND TELL PRACTICE (FOR P1&2)

Show your child the video above and ask your child the following questions in Chinese. Your child should reply in Chinese using multiple sentences. The first question is an oral exercise and the second question is a show and tell exercise.

如果你在场你会用什么方法来帮助海盗熊猫呢? 你会对它说些什么? (至少四句话)

你最喜欢的食物是什么? 你在哪里吃过这种食物?这种食物里面有什么?你为什么喜欢吃这个食物?你和谁经常吃这种食物?(P1: 至少6-8句话; P2:至少10句话)

KEYWORDS AND IDIOMS

牛肉   [niú ròu] – beef

牛肉_0

 

青菜   [qīng cài] – vegetables

青菜_0

 

面包   [miàn bāo] – bread

面包_0

 

鸡饭   [jī fàn] – chicken rice

鸡饭_0

 

狼吞虎咽   [láng tūn hǔ yàn] – to eat something quickly and fiercely, gobble up
造句:   海盗熊猫狼吞虎咽地吃下了一大碗鸡饭。

眉开眼笑   [méi kāi yǎn xiào]  – to appear very happy
造句:   一听到姐姐考上大学的好消息,全家人高兴得眉开眼笑。

If you are interested in finding out more about how to help your kids enjoy learning and excel in Chinese, please check out our classes at http://www.kidstartnow.com or email us at enquiry@kidstartnow.com. KidStartNow is highly recommended by 18 parent bloggers, and we have also been featured by Young Parents’ as “Enrichment class that best nurtures your child’s interest in Chinese” (Jan 2014).

Help your child excel in Chinese this year

New-Year_Resolutions_list

With the start of a new year, it is time to set resolutions. One suggestion is to regularly help your child with Chinese.

Getting kids interested in learning Chinese is not an easy task, as most parents and kids are far more comfortable with speaking English. However, this has become extremely important as MOE introduced a new primary school curriculum in 2015.

The new curriculum places greater focus on using Chinese in everyday life – rather than a subject that kids need to “pass” or “ace” exams. Lessons are structured around daily-life scenarios such as going to school or visiting the doctor. Also, there is a larger oral component like show and tell presentations. There are also relatively complex comprehension passages. Taken together, kids who are not regularly exposed to Chinese are likely to find the new curriculum more difficult.

The good news is that you can help your kids lay a strong foundation for primary school with the 3 simple tips.

TIP 1:

Manage expectations – getting your kids to be comfortable with Chinese will take time. It is easy to get frustrated and give up if your kids keep responding in English – but realise that this is a gradual journey. When your kids refuse to speak or read Chinese, do not worry or show unhappiness. Instead, encourage them to keep trying, and when they do take baby steps (e.g. say a word in Chinese) praise them for trying and encourage them to keep using Chinese.

TIP 2:

Set one day a week as Chinese day – on this day, try speaking to your kids in Chinese and have them respond in Chinese. For parents who are not as confident in incorporating Chinese into your daily life, check out MOE’s Xue Le website for ideas. Xue Le is MOE’s online portal based on its curriculum and the new P1 and P2 欢乐伙伴 syllabus has tons of animated videos based on daily life.

TIP 3:

Read Chinese books to your kids regularly – daily if possible. Most parents know the importance of reading English books to your kids to help them improve their vocabulary and English standards. Why should Chinese be any different?

We buy our paper books from Taobao and the collections are much larger and cheaper than those available in Singapore. Below are some of our recommendations – it is also useful to look for books that are translations from popular English series.

神奇立体书 (popup books with English translations, suitable for preschoolers)
小玻系列翻翻书 (Chinese translation of the popular ‘Spot the dog” series with English translations, suitable for preschoolers)
西游记 (children version of Journey to the West with han yu pin yin, suitable for primary school kids)

For parents not as confident in reading aloud to your kids or if your kids are not interested in Chinese books, we recommend our Boshi Panda animated storybooks (70 books created specifically for Singaporean kids for just $5/mo).

Good luck in helping your kids enjoy learning and excel in Chinese! If you are interested in additional help, our Chinese enrichment classes are highly recommended by 17 parent bloggers and we have helped hundreds of kids excel in Chinese in school.

KidStartNow to offer sponsorships for needy kids

I recently read a Straits Times forum post by a recent RI graduate, who believed that elitism can be good for society. It was eye-opening, to say the least, and immediately brought to mind one of my favourite comics.

inequality

The full comic is available at the Wireless. (Artwork courtesy of Toby Morris)

I find this comic always relevant, and a good reminder for all of us – our personal and professional successes are in part due to our merit, but also due to the foundations that our families, teachers and societies establish for us. We should always be appreciative and grateful.

This comic also made me reflect on my own biases: I come from a relatively privileged background, allowing me to study at a highly-ranked university in US and then work in finance in Taiwan. It shocked many when I decided to give up my high flying career (I had just been promoted) to move back to Singapore to set up KidStartNow to help kids develop an interest in learning Chinese.

I truly felt a calling – and knew I could help kids (often English speaking kan-tangs like myself) love to learn and excel in Chinese. And I’m happy to say that thanks to the efforts of our exceptionally talented team, we are progressing well.

A key motivation for starting KidStartNow is a desire to give back to society and our community. And so, we set up a sponsorship programme from day 1 and provided nearly $10k worth of classes and camps to financially disadvantaged students. We want to do our part to ensure that kids from less advantageous backgrounds have an equal head start as their peers.

We continue to feel strongly about the importance of equality in Singapore and want to play our small part in it. And so, we am happy to announce that we will be releasing 5 new two-year sponsorships, for kids entering K1 in 2016.

Each 2-year sponsorship is worth more than $4k and will cover the full fees of our enrichment classes and holiday camps. To apply, please fill up this form and we will be in touch.

Dan,
KidStartNow (http://www.kidstartnow.com)
Co-founder and director

6 phrases to teach your child during National Day :)

Happy Birthday Singapore!  At today’s National Day Parade, teach your kids some of these terms as you watch the show:)

新加坡 (xīn jiā pō) – Singapore

国庆日 (guó qìng rì) – National Day

挂国旗 (guà guó qí) – to raise a flag

庆祝 (qìng zhù) – to celebrate

唱国歌 (chàng guó gē) – to sing the National Anthem

看表演(kàn biǎo yǎn) – to watch a performance (or NDP)

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