Frequently Asked Questions
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Why should my child learn Mandarin?
1. One in six people on earth speak Mandarin Chinese. Early years of learning Mandarin is a great jump start for your child.
2. Teaching your child Mandarin also develop his cultural awareness and adaptability in the future.
3. Speaking a second language boosts cognitive, memory, and listening skills, especially speaking Mandarin as it is a tonal language and speaking Mandarin will require usage of both left and right temporal lobes in our brains. (Yes speaking English would only require usage of the left temporal lobe).
"Speaking Chinese may take more brainpower than speaking English, a study suggests. Researchers in Britain have found that people who speak Mandarin Chinese use both sides of their brain to understand the language. This compares to English-language speakers who only need to use one side of their brain."
"The most significant advantage which has been reported recently must be the fact that “bilingual patients developed dementia 4.5 years later than the monolingual ones.” This was the outcome of a research lead by Dr Thomas Bak. It also concluded that “bilingual switching between different sounds, words, concepts, grammatical structures and social norms constituted a form of natural brain training, which was likely to be more effective than any artificial brain training programme”."
When can my child start learning Mandarin?
As early as possible.
1. According to Dr. Maria Montessori, between birth and age 6 is the time of the “absorbent mind”. More learning takes place between 0-6 years than during any other stages in life. Children begin to acquire language, develop cognitive and motor skills, begin to imitate the adults around them, and develop expectations of the world around them.
2. Children are learning his mother's language while he is still in the womb. If Mandarin is an additional language you want to introduce, start your child as early as possible. We encourage natural and interactive learning in an Mandarin immersion environment, just like how all first/primary languages are acquired. (This is entirely different from how adults learn a second language, where they already understand an object i.e. apple in their first language, they then translate it into Mandarin. Children do not need translation, they learn about themselves and the world around themselves in a natural environment using Mandarin as the only medium).
3. Young children are better at grasping the differentiation of the 4 phonemic tones in Mandarin Chinese, comparing to most monotone English speaking adults who can’t easily differentiate the various tones, and often ending up with an accent.
"Only recently, with the help of modern technology, have researchers been able to actually see what's going on inside the head of infants. As it turns out, a baby knows important things about language even before birth, and he gains fundamental verbal skills long before he utters his first word. So, why is it a bad idea to postpone it? You could say the brain is "primed" the first three years of life with synapses at a peak, busily setting up the optimal neural pathways to mediate language. This construction of the brain's language chip continues, but at an ever-slowing rate until late childhood. Even if you don't start from birth, the earlier is truly easier for both you and your child. By the early teens, the baby's special abilities are completely gone. Besides, the younger the child, the less likely they will care about blatant errors. They'll just happily chatter away until your ears are ready to fall off."
How do we support our child in their Mandarin learning journey?
Children learn anything easily including languages through their interactions and experiences. With language learning, we recommend Early, Constant/Consistent, and Interactive (ECI) exposure, especially when Mandarin isn't widely spoken.
Linguists suggests the 30% rule, a child should spend at least 30% of their waking time to naturally learn another language. When this kind of exposure isn't possible, keep the learning fun and interactive, consistent and continuous so the learning experience continues.
1. In our classes, we teach children through play, exploration and engagement. It is essential to cultivate your child’s interest in learning the language, understanding the context and the culture. When they have learnt naturally and in a relaxed environment, they develop their interests and will look forward to a much longer learning journey.
We do not recommend rote learning at a young age. Too much rote learning, is boring for children and their brains. You may see fast result from drilling, but the process is not improving your child's comprehension of the language, and most importantly not developing your child’s naturally curious brain. Most often, it may also result in aversion toward the language and an early burnt out.
2. We recommend all children to enroll in Mandarin immersion classes for at least 2-3 times a week; while not in our classes, we strongly encourage parents to keep your child interested by reading bed time stories and role playing in Mandarin, listening to Mandarin music, and watching Mandarin movies etc. We provide weekly updated music and story-telling videos on our Facebook and Website, please refer to it as frequently as possible.
3. Learn with your child, this will encourage him to learn! Also Every Little Bit of Praise goes a long way in fostering your child's love for the language.
"Researchers claim that a child needs to be exposed to a language 30% of their waking time to actively speak it. Regardless of how many languages, you do need regular exposure and creating a need for baby to use them -- plus the ability to maintain that for alt least the first five years of the child's life. If you're able to provide that for the languages you want her to learn, go for it!"
Will my child get confused with learning too many languages?
No. There are many live examples of multi-lingual people around them. They learn different languages from different interactions with family member, with schoolmates at school, with friends etc.
Set a consistent routine/system for your child to learn multiple languages:
1. One Person One Language (OPOL) has proven to be the most effective.
2. Minority Language at home or on weekends.
3. Dedicate the same time every day to do story telling or other activities using the minority language, and the rest of the day you can speak to your child in his primary language.
"Do you really mean that if our children are exposed to two languages from birth they will learn both, just like that?
No, but children can do this with no difficulty, and it doesn't do them any harm. The hard part is making sure they have enough natural exposure to both languages. Most of the time, one of the two languages you want them to learn will be "more important" somehow, and the trick is to provide enough opportunities for them to use the "less important" one in a way that isn't forced or artificial. The best way, if you can manage it, is to put children in situations where only the "less important" language is used so that there is no temptation to mix languages or revert to the "more important" language."
What's Mulberry House's class size?
Our small class size is up to 6 students with 2 dedicated teachers (both native experienced teachers). This will ensure your child gets the highest level of personal attention and can understand and speak and write Mandarin with confidence engaging in classes.