Relocating as an expat family to Singapore is an exciting adventure for many, and it offers a wonderful opportunity to gain an appreciation of the cultures and languages of the region.
One way in which young children start to understand the Singapore way of life is through an exposure to Mandarin, which is one of the four official languages here.
Learning a new language has a host of benefits for children. It helps them to improve their memory and focus and to develop their critical thinking, listening and problem solving skills.
With the ability to understand the written word and spoken conversations in more than one language, creativity gets a boost as well.
At One World International School (OWIS), Mandarin is part of the balanced curriculum. Mandarin classes commence in the Early Childhood grades at OWIS and continue through every grade progression up to the IB DP Grades 11 and 12.
Furthermore, the school offers an engaging optional Chinese-English Bilingual Programme to students in Grade 1 to 5, where they can develop their proficiency in both world languages through a focused approach.
Games Make Language Learning Interesting and Interactive
OWIS adopts a student-centric learning approach and the Mandarin language programme is no different.
Time-tabled as separate lessons during the school week, Mandarin instruction in the Early Childhood and Primary grades draws on games and activities to help young students develop an early interest in the subject.
For example, some lessons use the concept of a “football writing team”. As a player on the Football Writing Team, students collaborate to create written work. The most advanced student acts as the football “coach”.
The team separates into referees and players work together to score the ultimate “touchdown” — a written passage which everyone on the team is pleased with.
Collaborative activities such as the Football Writing Team give students with greater mastery of Mandarin the opportunity to teach others, while students who may be new to the language benefit from the knowledge of their peers.
Another OWIS example includes “Mandarin Monopoly”, a spin-off from the popular board game by Parker Brothers.
Teachers create a Monopoly board with customised goals and Chance cards.
Students are tasked with different activities such as translating a sentence in Mandarin or answering a vocabulary question. Mandarin Monopoly is more engaging than rote memorisation of dry facts.
As a result, it’s more suited to young learners.
Kinetic learning is another technique used by OWIS educators to help Primary students master the sounds and letters of Mandarin.
For example, students may be asked to build a character out of real-world materials, such as drinking straws or clay or even their hands.
This aids in the retention of the character shape and lets children move and play as they learn.
For the more rigorous aspects of the curriculum, teachers take the time to personalise activities and tasks, so students can gain confidence as they progress.
The OWIS Chinese-English Bilingual Programme Strikes The Right Balance
OWIS’ Chinese-English Bilingual Programme follows the inquiry-led format of the IB PYP framework and focuses on the exploration of themes and collaboration.
One of the highlights of the programme is that it is designed to be truly bilingual – the entire curriculum is taught in both English and Chinese, with equal weightage given to both.
Teachers are also bilingual in their language ability and they model by example by easily switching between both languages or explaining the same topic of study in both languages.
Additionally, students learn skills related to speaking, reading and writing the Mandarin language, and they’re introduced to the traditions of Chinese culture, too.
For example, OWIS Bilingual Programme teachers may challenge students to notice what’s alike and what’s different about certain letters in the Mandarin alphabet.
They may ask children what they see or think a character means to help students make valuable connections.
Children explore images, devour text, and analyse the why and how of sentence structure. And the Chinese culture itself is a learning tool.
Students may learn about Chinese festivals, foods, traditions and culture to help them make real-world connections to the Mandarin language.
Children Thrive in the Kindness-Led Approach at OWIS
OWIS has long been a leading international school in Singapore. This is thanks, in part, to its inquiry-based approach to learning.
Teachers encourage student-led learning, and classrooms are inclusive and non-traditional.
To this end, even Primary students successfully take on challenging tasks and master them with little trouble.
The campuses at Nanyang and Suntec are state-of-the-art, progressive facilities that encourage young learners to excel in academics and in their well-rounded development. Classes are inclusive and student-led. Traits such as kindness, empathy and compassion are rewarded.
Contact an Admissions Counsellor today for more information.
OWIS NANYANG CAMPUS
Location: 21 Jurong West Street 81, Singapore 649075
Call +65 6914 6700
OWIS SUNTEC CAMPUS
Location: 1 Raffles Blvd, Suntec City, Level 3, Singapore 039593
Call: +65 69147240