DJ – Actor – Host Dennis Chew has always been passionate about education and he is harnessing his vast knowledge of the Chinese language to help children who struggle with the language. Coupled with his impeccable flair in making the mundane interesting, he is glad to be able to change both children’s and parents’ mindsets that Mandarin is a difficult language to master. Two by Two Schoolhouse is proud to have him on board to make the learning of Mandarin a magical journey for our children. Look out for his exuberant presence here at Two by Two!
Come join us at our Bilingual Accompanied Playgroup, suitable for tots aged 12 – 18 months!
Call 62450838 or email [email protected] to book a trial class today!
For all those linguists out there, do you sometimes feel like a different person when switching languages?
Are you a witty comedian in English, but when you switch to Mandarin you become a zen introvert that only speaks up when necessary?
This topic has become an unofficial phenomenon, with many people declaring it to be true.
At Two By Two, we are big on Mandarin, and our students are encouraged to learn Mandarin through interactive, hands-on activities. Every now and then we ask the children simple questions on a variety of topics. We record these questions and answers, and some time later we throw the same questions at the same students, but this time in English. There are times where we see repeat answers, but more frequently we see an uncanny change in each answer or the way the question is answered.
Of course these findings are not conclusive, that linguists have a split personality, but it certainly is some food for thought.
Integration of culture
On a more serious note, let us delve deeper into the topic.
Being able to think reflexively in your second language is a characteristic of an advanced learner. This is important, as thinking in your stronger language and then translating it back to your second language is inefficient and displays a lack of mastery. The subtle nuances of the language are lost and the essence of the topic at hand becomes unclear.
For one, you can forget about cracking jokes. After the 3-5 second delay as you frantically try to translate the joke in your head, it automatically does not seem funny any longer!
To achieve this reflexive thinking in one’s second language, we must place emphasis on studying the inherent culture of the second language. It would take years of learning the language and the culture in an immersive environment before you will be able to communicate effectively to people from that culture group.
Our strong Mandarin culture at Two By Two helps students who are non native speakers of the language pick up the language quickly and naturally. We teach mandarin in an environment that is immersive and hence we are able to successfully integrate the culture into the psyche of the students, vastly improving their mastery and confidence in using the language.
First, thoroughly learn the language. Be totally immersed in an environment that lives and breathes the language. Even when you struggle with speaking or reading, use it often. Surround yourself with people who are more proficient than you are in the language. Listen to songs, watch movies, get your hands on everything and anything associated with the language.
Second, thoroughly study and be involved in the culture. It is evident that each culture has its own unique characteristics. If not, there would not exist the so called culture shock and there would not be any semblance of any inter-racial divide, and in this case no theory of a split-personality phenomenon among linguists.
Learning Mandarin in today’s landscape
Increasingly, the younger generation have become unable to effectively communicate and fully understand people who solely speak Mandarin. These include the hawkers in the food centre, the table cleaners, retail staff and even their own grandparents or the older generation. The only form of connection comes through protocol, kindness and sometimes frantic gesticulating, peppered with fragments of the language.
I have had my struggles learning Mandarin. I grew up in an English speaking family and I fought an uphill battle with the language. My entire family, including my grandparents, spoke fluent English and zero Mandarin. Our family environment was such that our days were filled with witty anecdotes told in the Queen’s English and movies and songs from the West. My uncles and cousins were radio and TV personalities hosting English programs and many a family gathering was spent watching, listening and critiquing their work.
But spending my formative secondary school years in a Chinese school cemented my belief that being bilingual really does give us a cultural identity and that quiet confidence about ourselves and our place in the world.
Our nation’s founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was truly a visionary. He saw strength before we even had it – language. He united us with English and enforced the mandate that all students had to learn a second language associated with their ethnicity.
His emphasis on language has brought us to the place we are today. He united our country by giving us the gift of communication – not only with one another, but with the rest of the world. I would like to believe that I am effectively bilingual, thanks to him, and I would like to honor this legacy of his by perpetuating his passion and dedication towards nurturing the younger generation. Singapore has become predominantly English speaking and many families today have sorely neglected their mother tongue. I would like to change the mindset that Mandarin is difficult to master and help give children this skill of communication in Mandarin .
Linguists and the split personality phenomenon
In view of this, perhaps we can conclude that only advanced speakers of that certain language would possibly display this split-personality phenomenon. That does not disregard the fact that as human beings, we have a great propensity towards using our imagination and harnessing our creativity. All we need are a few simple facts and some background information about a certain culture and we are able to envision and bring to life an entire eco-system around these facts.
There is almost an intentional, instantaneous switch to adapt to what one perceives of a particular culture. Of course, these findings of split-personality are more frequent only in the students who delve deeper in their understanding of the language’s inherent culture. The difference is obvious and as an educator, I am able to observe this phenomenon as these bilingual students display it reflexively like second nature.
I do not regard this as negative behaviour, rather I believe that we are capable of progressing much further.
To put it succinctly in an analogy; It is just like an actor who steps into character, if he can fully walk in the shoes of his stage character, then he would definitely put up a performance worthy of an Oscar.
Hence we should inspire children to work towards seamlessly reconciling two or even more cultures; to work, play and communicate with such diversity would be a fulfilling achievement.
Does your child shy away from using Mandarin?
Does he face difficulties in learning the language?
Join us on 11 April 2015, Saturday from 10am – 2pm and let your children experience role playing activities in Mandarin at our very own cinema, restaurant, library, supermarket and retail shop!
At Two by Two, we believe that personal experiences is a powerful earning tool. Coupled with the element of fun, children pick up the language effortlessly through hands on, interactive activities.
So come down to find out more about our preschool curriculum and how we can build up children’s confidence and mastery in Mandarin.
To register, please call 62450838 or email [email protected]
See u then!
You want your children to succeed in school, but are at loss of how to support them in their studies effectively. Here’s some direction: The best place to start learning is closer than you actually think – home.
It doesn’t take more than a home to create a positive learning environment. It is crucial for a child to have such an environment to stimulate interest and promote learning. Such an environment not only consists of the physical setting, but it also encompasses how the child feels or responds to the setting.
Children nurtured in a conducive home learning environment possess a firm foundation of positive attitudes and learning strategies – resources that teachers can tap into and develop to mould them into lifelong learners.
Sure, schools and educational centres make up a huge part of your child’s learning journey, but learning should definitely not be confined inside those walls. I believe that families need to be open to learning at home. After all, the home is always the first ‘classroom’ where your child learns her first word or takes her first step. Children spend most of their time at home so it is important to make it a place conducive for learning.
Take stock, reflect and plan the improvement of the home learning environment. The checklist below provides activities that promote a positive home learning environment. Parents can use this checklist to reflect on what has been occurring at home. All ratings of “never” or “sometimes” merit some attention.
The environment plays a major role in how your child can maximise his/her time studying. Be the resourceful parent that creates opportunities for your child to learn. You can do this by developing good study habits in your children from an early age, so that this will all come naturally when he/she moves on in life.
It is not uncommon for an educator or parent to over-exert control on their kids. Control makes things simple. We provide a set of rules and enforce a certain curriculum, and the job is already half done. But let’s think about what such actions will implicate. Do you want to build the perfect foot soldier? Or an open minded, self-confident individual? The key to the latter is empowerment.
Empowering our kids through healthy learning methods and strategies not only builds character, but also creates an environment for enriched learning. Empowering children is about providing them with the right tools and techniques to learn. Teaching them how to learn with activities and positive methods develops a keen learning spirit within an individual, which is important because an individual never stops learning. Gandhi once said: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
The use of music and movement is one way to enhance learning. With the use of music, students are found to be more focused and energetic. According to tests and research, playing music stimulates the brain and increases the amount of information that is retained and recalled.
“When we keep students active, we keep their energy levels up and provide their brains with the oxygen-rich blood needed for highest performance.” (Jensen, 2005)
A way to keep children actively engaged is movement. Movement is a method based on research that suggests that physical activity before or during class increases the ability to process and retain new information.
Here is a list of some of these activities:
Movement Songs – e.g. Finger Family, Garden Boogie, Skipping Along
Building Blocks – Make connection through building blocks
Spelling Whiteboard Games
Exploratory Games – Hide & Seek, Scavenger Hunts
What makes art such a great teaching tool? Art engages children’s senses in open-ended play and develops Cognitive, Social, Emotional and Sensori-Motor skills. Art is a cooperative learning experience that provides pleasure, challenge, and a sense of mastery. Instruction in the arts is one of the best ways in which to involve the different modes of learning; through art, children learn complex thinking skills and master developmental tasks (Belden & Fessard, 2001).
Integrating Art Into The Classroom
Art, as a tool, does not only benefit developmental skills, but also academic subjects like science, literacy and math. These methods include doing activities that are related to the topic that is being covered. When studying a concept, children learn better and retain the information longer if an art activity is in play to reinforce the subject. This method has been in effect since the time of Confucius, who famously said: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember; I do and I understand.”
Art activities are a great way to promote literacy and language development. Children who draw pictures of stories they have read, improve their reading comprehension, and are motivated to read new material (Deasy & Stevenson, 2002). Pre-writers that are introduced to art tools have an increased ability to pick up writing. Through research art can develop reflective and expressive skills that enhance writing and also promotes visual literacy, spatial relation skills, print awareness and verbal creativity.
It is important that parents facilitate art methods into their child’s learning. It is common to hear parents getting excited about the end product of their child’s art piece. This is good as it encourages enthusiastic learning. Acknowledging the value of your child’s are and keeping supplies at home and designating a “messy art” corner is a great way to reinforce these learning methods. What is more important in learning is the process that the child goes through when creating each art piece. These practises help improve writing skills, creative thinking and helps reinforce lessons. It is always the process of learning that is to be enjoyed and savored. Too often we put emphasis on our children’s completed paintings or insist on perfect little cut out shapes, but we forget that it’s the experience of painting, drawing, and cutting that matter most to our children’s development.
At Two by Two Schoolhouse, we celebrate the success of each and every child. All art forms; be it visual or performing arts, are imaginative and leaves the end open to the creators, our children. As art integrates our curriculum across all disciplines, our children have ownership of and take pride in their unique efforts and ultimately develop confidence, versatility, tenacity and creativity; traits that are crucial for the 21st century.
For more information about our holistic curriculum, do feel free to call us at 62450838 or drop by our centre to experience our school culture!
Launching our newly revamped and eagerly anticipated website!
As part of our launch, we are happy to announce that we will be giving away one term’s worth of Mandarin enrichment programs worth $300!
Simply sign up to be on our mailing list and we will choose a lucky winner at the end of next week.
Looking forward to having your children with us soon at Two by Two!
Two By Two Academy will start providing Mandarin Tuition and Creative Writing programs from Jan 2015. Watch this space!
Sign up in a group of 3 to receive 10% off.
Two By Two is a mandarin based pre-school for kids.