How to Improve in Chinese Comprehension (Part III): Read Smartly

Let’s start with a quick recap. So far, we have learnt about how reading a wide range of materials from young and reading with a specific purpose in mind can help strengthen your child’s Chinese reading comprehension ability.

In this blog post, we delve deeper into comprehension passage reading techniques. In particular, through reading questions smartly, your child can uncover useful hints to help him or her find the correct answers more easily.

READ PASSAGE OR QUESTIONS FIRST?

At KidStartNow, we advocate the following process for reading comprehension.

Answering Process

Step 1
The aim of the first read is to get an overall understanding of the passage, and to identify its broad theme, topic or storyline.

Step 2
Understand what the questions are asking for or about. Identify and underline the question words (疑问词) in the questions (i.e. the 5W+1H questions; see more details below).

Step 3
With the second read of the passage, identify where answers can be found in the passage.

Pro-tip
Mark out the sentences where answers are found by underlining or highlighting and writing the relevant question number next to it.

Annotating a passage becomes especially important in upper primary levels when the student may need to derive the answer for one question from different paragraphs of the passage. With highlighting or underlining all parts of the answer, your child is less likely to miss out any part and lose precious marks as a result.

Unless your child is much older, such as being in secondary school, or he or she is running out of time during a timed assessment, we do not recommend reading the questions without first reading the passage.

IDENTIFY BASIC QUESTION WORDS (疑问词)

A comprehension question is made up of question words (疑问词) and keywords (关键句子).

The basic question words (疑问词) used in questions can offer useful clues to finding the correct answers in the passage. These question words are commonly known as the 5W and 1H (see table below).

Each question word has a different purpose. Guide your child to understand all five different question words and their purposes.

Question words (疑问词) What is it asking for/about?
Who 谁. 什么人, 什么动物 person or animal
What 什么东西, 什么事情 object, or event or incident
Where 哪里, 什么地方 location or place
When 什么时候 time
Why 为什么 reason, justification, motivation
How 怎样 method, way, process, steps

Pro-tip
When answering questions with basic question words, especially at the lower primary levels, it may be possible to lift answers directly from the passage. However, remind your child to always ensure that he or she answers the question to the point. This could mean having to paraphrase the answer in order to address the question directly.

FIND WORDS RELATED TO BASIC QUESTION WORDS

Some Chinese words exist in pairs because of the nature of Chinese sentence construction. So, one way to look for answers in the passage is to find words which are associated with the basic question words.

For example, “因为” ( “because”, signifying reason) is often followed by “所以” (“therefore”, signifying the result or outcome) in a comprehension passage. So, when tackling a “为什么” (“why…result/outcome”) question, look for sentences with “因为…所以” (“because”…. “therefore”) in the passage.

DECODE TOUGHER QUESTION WORDS

Question words typically get more varied, complex and difficult from Primary 3 upwards. This applies especially to inferential questions, questions that require the student to answer from his/her life experience, or questions that ask for personal opinion.

For example:

“从哪些句子可以看出…” (“from where in the passage can you tell….?”)

“如果你是作者/xx, 你会如何/怎样…” (“what is you are the author/subject, what will you…?”)

“你认为…” (“What do you think of….?”)

For such higher-level questions, it is not so straightforward as to lift the answers from the passage. Your child will likely need to infer and deduce from reading the whole passage, or apply critical thinking skills and his or her own personal life experience. This is where reading Chinese books from young, conversing in Chinese regularly and being exposed to rich experiences outside of school can make a difference.

IDENTIFY SIMILAR KEYWORDS (关键句子) IN THE PASSAGE
Keywords (关键句子) forms the main part of a question. They also hold the key to helping your child find the correct answer in the passage.

Guide your child to look for similar keywords that appear in both the question and passage. If necessary, adapt the answer by paraphrasing it to address the question directly.

QUESTION NUMBER CAN BE A HINT

Generally, teachers set reading comprehension questions chronologically. Assuming a passage with five paragraphs and four questions, for instance, the answers to the first two questions are likely to be found in the first half of the passage, and the last two questions in the second half. Observing the question number can help to narrow down where an answer to a question might be located in the passage.

KNOW THE MARK ALLOCATION

Students often end up losing precious marks because of incomplete answers. How to know how long your child’s answer should be?

Look at the number of marks allocated to the question. If it is a one-mark question, most likely one answer is sufficient. For questions with two or more marks allocated, there probably needs to be two or more parts to the answer, to make it complete.

ALWAYS CHECK YOUR WORK

Two other common pitfalls that result in students losing marks in reading comprehension is the omission of words and words being copied wrongly. Whether your child is lifting an answer directly from the passage or adapting the answer slightly to suit the question, remind him or her to copy words from the passage to the answer field carefully.

At KidStartNow, our teachers get our students to practise silent reading when checking through their reading comprehension answers. They read silently to themselves what they have written, word for word. This helps to prevent students from just glossing over their copied words quickly.

We have shared with you a wide array of techniques and tips that our teachers have found useful in helping our students improve in their reading comprehension. Have a go at getting your child to apply them and let us know whether they work equally well for your child! If you would like us to share tips on other aspects of Chinese learning, please also write in to enquiry@kidstartnow.com to tell us!

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Seeking professional Chinese coaching in a fun and encouraging environment for your child? Fill up the contact form below or call 6481-1932 / 9820-7272 to sign up for a trial class today!

Choosing the Right Chinese Enrichment Class for Your Child (Part 1)

Welcome to another new school year!

For those parents with preschool children, you might be wondering how you can help your child build a strong foundation in Chinese and Hanyu Pinyin this year to prepare for P1 in the near future.

For those parents with Primary 1 children, whether your child has attended Chinese enrichment or not during his or her preschool years, you might be considering to sign your child up for Chinese tuition this year to help him or her cope better in primary school.

With so many Chinese tuition and enrichment centres out there, what should you look out for when choosing a Chinese enrichment programme for your child? How do you look beyond marketing brochures and websites to find out if a programme is really suitable for your child?

Here’s Part 1 of a checklist to guide your search.


What to look out for in a Chinese enrichment programme?

  • For preschool kids, does it prepare your kids for Primary One? For primary school kids, does it follow the latest Ministry of Education (MOE) Chinese syllabus 《欢乐伙伴》closely?
  • Does it utilise a variety of engaging and effective Chinese learning resources that are fun and appeal to students?
  • Are the lessons interactive and engaging?

Aligned curriculum with a focus on oral

Did you know that that the latest 2015 MOE Chinese syllabus puts a heavy emphasis on oral communications skills. In fact, oral has a higher weightage compared to composition and it is important to prepare your kids accordingly, especially if your kids speak predominatly English at home.

Hence, at KidStartNow, our preschool programme prepares students through lively lessons incorporating dramatic role-play and oral practices, which build up your child’s confidence in conversing in Mandarin. This, combined with our reading and writing exercises, means your child is well-prepared for primary school.

At the primary level, besides being aligned to the MOE syllabus, our lessons incorporate regular oral practices to ensure that your child gets a head start in learning what is required of him or her in school.

  • Effective, engaging learning resources for the ‘digital age’ child

Traditional methods of learning Chinese that involve heavy memorisation just takes the joy out of learning Chinese.

At KidStartNow, your child learns Chinese the smart way, not the hard way. There is no boring rote learning and drilling by flashcards. Instead, your child learns faster, absorbs and retains more while having fun.

This is why we have developed our signature preschool programme around our proprietary animation stories that cater specially for children of this digital age, while learning words taken from the primary school syllabus. Filled with wacky characters, the stories are humourous and exciting and naturally appeal to young children’s innate sense of adventure and curiosity. Our students have so much fun during lessons that they don’t even realise they are picking up new vocabulary, grammar and sentence construction through watching these animations.

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  • Engaging games that motivate

Games form an important part of our lessons too! Through playing fun games that are integrated with our animation stories or other classroom activities, your child gets to interact with the teacher and classmates in a stress-free context.

A self-motivated, self-directed learner makes the best student. Hence, our games also tap the natural sense of competition and drive to excel in children. Your child earns digital coins as rewards for various achievements, which are added ‘live’ to his or her digital bank account and shown instantly on the TV screen in the classroom. This has proven to motivate our students to pay more attention in class, volunteer to speak up in class more often, answer questions and do his or her work more conscientiously.

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  • Combining MOE syllabus with an interactive classroom

In KidStartNow’s Primary School programmes, we adhere to the MOE Higher Chinese syllabus, focusing on the problem spots of composition, comprehension and oral.

Having said that, we ensure classes are not boring and dry by creating an interactive class via our proprietary classroom apps. For instance, kids are divided into teams and answer questions to build a digital hamburger, making the usual boring material fun and engaging!

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Experience KidStartNow’s lessons

Don’t take our word for it. Why not let your child experience a trial class at KidStartNow to see if our programme and teachers are a right fit for him or her? Make that two trial classes, as we are running a special promotion now of only $19 for two trial classes! Limited classes and seats only. Simply fill in your details below and one of our friendly staff will get in touch with you!

We’ve given you a low-down on some of the factors that you can take into consideration when you are exploring Chinese enrichment programmes for your child. Stay tuned to our next blogpost for Part 2 of our checklist of questions to bear in mind when you are visiting potential enrichment centres.

Top Chinese Speech & Drama Holiday Camp for Preschoolers

Do you have a child between three to six years old who doesn’t speak much Mandarin and doesn’t like Chinese? Do you wish to nip this disdain in its bud before your child reaches Primary 1, but don’t how to help him or her?

You are not alone in facing challenges with your child’s Chinese learning. The parents of the three children quoted below also shared your struggles in the past.

  • “Kyle is now speaking SENTENCES in Mandarin which he couldn’t before.” – Ting, Kyle’s mom
  • “Noey was obviously having a good time AND speaking Chinese.” – Vera, Noah’s mom
  • “Each day, my boy came back telling me that he looked forward to the next day’s class…” – Christy, YH’s mom

The turning point came when their children joined a transformational speech and drama holiday camp at KidStartNow.

Want your child to experience the same transformation and start falling in love with Chinese? Then read on to find out more about KidStartNow’s signature speech and drama holiday camps for three- to six-year-olds, happening this November and December!

Why speech and drama?

Speech and drama is one of the most fun and naturalistic ways to learn a language and cultivate a love for it. It is particularly effective for young children because:

  • It involves interactive storytelling, active show-and-tell and imaginative role-playing that are perfect for kinesthetic learners (which applies to most pre-schoolers!) Learning Chinese no longer feels boring!
  • It builds oral confidence in a fun way. Learning Chinese feels like playtime!
  • It sets learning Chinese and practising spoken Mandarin in context. Through contextual learning, children are more likely to know how to put into practice what they have learnt in similar scenarios in real life situations.
  • It prepares your child for P1 show and tell by developing the oral confidence and vocabulary foundation that are critical for success in school.

Raved holiday camp back by popular demand

Back for their 5th run this coming school holidays, speech and drama holiday camps at KidStartNow are extra special. We design the programme based on a unique formula of blending several dashes of magic, fantasy and adventure into well-loved children’s stories, PLUS our other signature elements such as:

  • Our hugely popular, proprietary Boshi Panda animation stories
  • Our proprietary gamification system that helps to sustain children’s interest and self-motivation through earning virtual gold coins for active participation

For the upcoming camps, the theme turns festive – Christmas with a touch of adventure! Why is Christmas in danger, and what has a greedy wolf got to do with it? Your child’s got to be in the camp to find out!

What’s in store

Each of our speech and drama holiday camps for three- to six-year-olds takes place over four mornings, 3.5 hours per day. Your child can look forward to lots of storytelling, music, games and activities, and speech and drama. You can be sure there will be plenty of opportunities for him or her to practise speaking Mandarin.

With such an action-packed, fun-filled programme, it is little wonder that KidStartNow’s speech and drama holiday camp is the #1 rated Chinese holiday camp on Google and also highly recommended by 20 parent bloggers!

Don’t let your child miss out on an intriguing Christmas adventure!

Places in our camp are limited to ensure we give your child our utmost attention. With so many curious children wondering what has happened to their favourite season of the year, spots are filling up much faster this year than expected!!

So sign up quickly today by filling up the form below, and one of our friendly staff will get back to you with all the details. Alternatively, you can also call 6481-1932 / 9820-7272 for enquiries.

In addition, if you confirm your sign-up BEFORE 1 NOV, we will be happy to provide you with a SPECIAL EARLY BIRD RATE!

The Biggest Mistake Parents Make When Teaching Their Kids Chinese

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If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’re facing certain difficulties in getting your child to learn Chinese. Maybe your child doesn’t have an ounce of interest in the language. Maybe your child is doing relatively okay in all of his/her other subjects, but is getting abysmal grades in Chinese. Maybe your child is highly stubborn, and replies you in English even when you speak to him or her in Mandarin.

We’ve seen many parents who, discouraged by the above scenarios, give up and admit defeat. They tell us that they’ve tried everything, and that it’s simply impossible to get their child to learn Chinese when he or she has already developed such an intense dislike of the language.

But is that really true? 9 times out of 10, it’s not…

Many parents say that they’ve tried everything, but what they really mean is that they’ve tried the same thing over and over again.

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Let’s say they rely on flashcards to get their child to memorise Chinese vocabulary. They might try using the flashcards at the start of the week, only to be met with a refusal to learn from their child. Undeterred, they try the flashcards again, this time with an external reward involved – they’ll get their child a new phone if he/she manages to improve their Chinese grades. Still no luck. They try the flashcards yet again, this time on a weekend, hoping that their child will be better rested and more open to learning. It still doesn’t work.

Instead of simply using the same teaching method under different scenarios, how about switching it up completely? Here’s our rationale behind this – hear us out…

You can’t expect different results to arise when you’re doing the same thing, over and over again. Think about it – you won’t lose weight if you don’t make changes to your exercise and eating habits. Similarly, you can’t expect to achieve that “breakthrough” with your child if you continue using outdated methods of teaching.

Continuing in that same vein, this is the one biggest mistake that parents make when teaching their kids Chinese – which is utilising the same methods that were popular 10 or 20 years ago.

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It’s 2017, and an overwhelming majority of Singaporeans speak English at home. Yes, you might argue that your children speaks Chinese when interacting with their grandparents, but that isn’t sufficient for them to familiarise themselves with the language, or to develop an interest in it. Even if both parents are bilingual, this often has no bearing on whether your child ultimately ends up accepting the Chinese language – unless you make a concerted effort to speak Chinese regularly (and this means approximately 50% of the time) at home.

How do you get children to develop an interest in Chinese, then? Simple. Refrain from any activities that involve learning through mindless repetition (死背), and instead, opt for more interactive formats of learning, such as hosting show and tells in Mandarin, and doing roleplaying exercises. Whilst these will take more effort to plan on your part, they’re significantly more engaging, and will do wonders in helping your child develop a liking for the Chinese language.

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If you want to supplement your efforts at home with Chinese enrichment classes, similarly, make sure you choose an enrichment centre which utilises interactive forms of learning over memorisation and mindless repetition. At KidStartNow, for example, we utilise a gamification system, where kids are given digital coins when they participate in class or do homework. Each student’s score is tallied up on a scoreboard that is displayed in class, and this motivates them to keep participating in an effort to achieve a “high score”.

You’d be surprised at how competitive kids can get, and how effective gamification is in motivating students to fast-track their learning. In fact, this is applicable to not just young children, but students of all ages – with similar gamification being techniques employed by leading US universities such as New York University, University of Michigan and Indiana University.

Remember: you can’t expect your children to have a radical change of heart when it comes to Chinese if you’re still sticking to outdated methods of teaching. Our system has helped over 1000 students and we are so confident in our system that we offer a 30 day full money back guarantee on our enrichment classes. So bring your child down to KidStartNow’s trial class, and you’ll be able to see for yourself.

95+% of children who go for our trial class find it extraordinarily fun and will request to come back for more sessions. Register your child for a slot today!

Help Your Child “Level Up” In Chinese In Just 4 Days

Give us 4 days, and we’ll give you a child who loves Chinese.

This June holidays, we’re bringing back our KidStartNow Superhero June Holiday Camp by popular demand! With the astonishing difference that this camp makes on children’s attitudes towards learning Chinese in just 4 days, the camp has earned rave reviews by numerous mummy bloggers such as Says! Happy Mums, Kids R Simple and Lil Blue Bottle. This camp has consistently sold out since its inception in 2013 – so sign up early to avoid disappointment!

Here’s what mummy bloggers have to say:

All in all, our super popular camp have been highly recommended by 18 parent bloggers, and was even featured by Young Parents’ as “Enrichment class that best nurtures your child’s interest in Chinese”.

How does the Superhero Holiday Camp engage my kids?

By utilizing a fun storyline that makes children forget that they’re learning Chinese! Over four days, your child will go on a story adventure where they will meet a pair of panda superhero siblings who are constantly fighting. The siblings are forced to band together to save a baby panda from an evil robot wolf, and in doing so, they learn the importance of love and cooperation.

Every day, your child will be engaged with 30 mins of story-telling, followed by an hour of fun games and activities to reinforce materials, and end off with 30 mins of roleplaying where your child will pretend to be a character in the story and act out the dialogue (in Chinese!). It’s a great way to help your child forget they are learning Chinese.

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Before the camp even commences, your child will get postcards mailed to them. These postcards contain a teaser about the storyline, and ask your child to start thinking of ideas to save the baby panda.

What ages are the Superhero Holiday Camp suited for?

The camp is split up into two sessions, which are catered to 3-6 year olds, and 6-8 year olds respectively. Those in the younger age group will be focusing on role-playing and oral conversation in order to cultivate a strong interest in Chinese. Those in the older age group will be focusing on show and tell and word recognition, in order to boost oral confidence and brush up on vocabulary.

Role-playing and conversation camp (3-6 year olds, 4 days 2 hours per day)
– Focus on role-playing and oral conversation and not on word recognition
– More fun and less academic vs regular enrichment classes
– Develops interest in reading and learning Chinese through animated storybooks
– Max of 8 students to a class

Show and tell and word recognition camps (6-8 year olds, 4 days 2 hours per day)
– Focus is on preparing kids for show and tell in primary school by boosting vocabulary and oral confidence
– Some role-playing activities as well, together with a show and tell presentation in front of classmates on the last day
– Develops interest in reading and learning Chinese through animated storybooks
– Max of 10 students to a class

Where and when is the Superhero Holiday Camp?

We will be holding our Chinese camps at Bedok and Serangoon, and click here to see list of timings.

Class size is limited to 8 children per class for 3-6 year olds, and 10 children per class for 6-8 year olds. Slots are limited, so fill up the form to secure a place for your child now!

Sign up before 12th May to enjoy a special early-bird discount! Fill up the form to find out more!

3 Signs You’re Wasting Money On Your Child’s Chinese Enrichment

The CA1/checkpoint results are out – if your child scored badly or still dislikes learning Chinese despite having regular enrichment classes, you’ll need to seriously evaluate where things are going wrong. The good news? The school year’s not over yet – so there’s still time to course correct, and put your child on the right path and help them ace their subsequent Chinese papers.

Want to learn how to evaluate your child’s current Chinese enrichment programmes? Here are 3 signs that you’re wasting money on ineffective programmes at sub-par enrichment centres:

#1: The enrichment centre is using a one size fits all approach

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Don’t be fooled by enrichment centres which tell you that the programme is “inclusive” – what this means is that they simply throw all their kids into the same programme, and teach with the same standardized approach. In these programmes, there’s zero flexibility for kids who are progressing more quickly, or more slowly than the rest.

Unfortunately, these one size fits all approaches are pretty common in enrichment centres – simply because conducting smaller, more specialized classes translates into higher manpower costs. In fact, most enrichment centres tell parents that they accept a maximum of 12 students, and then go on to pack 15-20 students into each class instead.

How do you get around this? The best enrichment centres are now relying on technology to overcome this flaw – more on that later!

#2: The enrichment centre doesn’t provide regular updates for parents

Teacher make a huge impact on your kids during class – but for maximum results, these efforts should be reinforced by parents at home. The problem arises, however, when enrichment centres don’t provide updates or any sort of clarity on your child’s progress, making it difficult for you to continue the learning process at home.

#3: Your kids dread going to class

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It’s a huge myth that Chinese can’t be enjoyable. If your kids dread going to class each week, this merely shows that the enrichment centre’s curriculum is outdated, and that they need to provide better material that can stimulate your kids. Don’t settle for less – because why have your kids suffer through their weekly lessons when they could be having tons of fun?

Want to look for a more effective enrichment centre? Try KidStartNow’s Primary School programme, which has earned rave reviews from mummy bloggers and publications such as Young Parents Magazine. KidStartNow’s programme incorporates a proprietary BOSHI methodology to get children to learn Chinese the smarter and more effective way – with over 90% of our students loving the programme so much that they can’t wait to get to class each week!

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We help your children fall in love with Chinese, and improve their Chinese grades quickly and painlessly:

Tailored to each student

Tutors conduct classes with a teaching aid developed by our in-house experts. Using the teaching aid, tutors have access to each student’s detailed information, including the areas that they are weak in.

With a plethora of data available at their fingertips, our tutors are empowered to conduct classes more effectively, and to check in on specific students to make sure that each student is progressing at their optimum pace. Our primary school classes are also strictly limited to 10 students per class.

Regular progress reports provided to parents

We know you want to help to consolidate your kids’ learning – and we’ll help you to do just that. By providing you with regular progress reports and actionable tips, we take all the guesswork out on your end. All you have to do is to take a few minutes and sit down with your kids to revise the vocabulary or topics that we’ve highlighted in these reports.

Highly interactive and fun

Kids love our classes – and we can’t emphasize the importance of this enough. Once you get your child to develop an interest for Chinese, that’s half the battle won. With our fun show and tell activities, as well as our highly engaging class formats, your children’s subsequent learning won’t feel like work. In fact, with the guidance and support of our teachers and BOSHI methodology, many KidStartNow students have found it possible to achieve a perfect grade in their primary school Chinese exams!

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We’ve helped countless students fall in love with Chinese and ace their Chinese exams – and we can do the same for your child. Want to put your child on the path to scoring As in their Chinese exams? Sign up for a trial class today!

Valid till 30th April: For all new students, we’re waiving our $40 registration fee and throwing in a 30-day money back guarantee. We are confident that our curriculum will help your child that if you don’t feel your child has benefitted from our classes, we’ll issue you a full refund, no questions asked!

What To Expect At SmartKids Fair + How To Get A Free Report For Your Kid

Heading down to SmartKids Asia Fair 2017? Here are some highlights of the event that you won’t want to miss out on – including a free, customized report for your child that you can redeem from KidStartNow’s booth (KEP 02)!

#1: Straits Times Parenting Masterclasses

Comprising of a line-up of speakers who are experts in the fields of parenting and education, these masterclasses will help parents delve into the depths of the most effective parenting techniques, as well as uncover insights about child psychology.

Prices start at $12.84 for a single speaker; tickets are purchasable here.

#2: Straits Times Young Storymakers Camp

In this camp, kids will learn basic news reporting techniques taught by Straits Times journalists, explore the underground bunkers at The Battlebox, and even create a front page for their own newspaper in the Straits Times’ Newslab.

Prices start at $171.20; tickets are purchasable here.

#3: Get A Free Report Which Assesses Your Child’s Chinese Ability

Stop by Chinese Language Specialists’ KidStartNow’s booth at the SmartKids Fair to get a free assessment of your child’s Chinese ability, worth $40. With KidStartNow’s award winning classes being ranked #1 on Google, and being highly recommended by 18 parent bloggers and prominent media such as Young Parents Magazine and Sassy Mama, you’ll be in expert hands.

Amongst other things, the language specialists at KidStartNow will evaluate your child’s oral expression skills, listening and comprehension skills, and also test their word recognition for specific vocabulary. You’ll get a printed copy of the report that you may take home, and you can also speak with a language specialist to learn more about how to help your child improve his or her Chinese in the specific areas that he/she is currently lacking in.

Struggling with a child who’s highly disinterested in Chinese? Ask the language experts at KidStartNow’s booth about their proprietary BOSHI methodology, which incorporates the use of a BoshiPanda app that does wonders in creating and sustaining interest. With their BOSHI methodology and BoshiPanda app, KidStartNow has helped countless children rediscover Chinese and fall in love with the language – and they can help your child do the same!

KidStartNow’s booth is located at KEP 02.

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