How to get your child to love learning Mandarin
Hong Kong is a multilingual city with opportunities galore for learning a global language such as Mandarin. For our kids, it’s an option that can give them significant social and professional advantages in life. Here we take a look at learning Mandarin at Stamford American School Hong Kong and how they aim to instil a love of the language in their students through their teaching methods.
The benefits of being exposed to more than one language during childhood are widely documented. These include helping with the development of skills such as problem solving, concentration and mental agility. There’s also a highly practical reason to expose our children to other languages: by the time they enter the workforce, being fluent in several languages will likely be the norm.
Learning Mandarin at Stamford American School Hong Kong is one way to prepare a child for a multilingual world. The school’s Head of Mandarin, Qian Wang, who was born in Harbin in China’s northeast, has a Master’s degree in teaching Mandarin as a foreign language. She also has over 12 years’ experience in international schools offering the International Baccalaureate and American curriculums, so she’s well aware of the many benefits to having a second language.
“Technology has connected people more than ever, and being multilingual is becoming more the norm than the exception,” Qian says. “Living in Hong Kong, our students have the chance to receive a progressive education but also to take advantage of the opportunity to learn a second language. I think that this will be necessary in tomorrow’s world.
“As we become even more of a global community, being bilingual opens more doors to a student’s future. Being able to communicate with a larger portion of the world’s population gives more opportunities. Understanding another culture more thoroughly broadens the mind.”
Learning Mandarin the Stamford way
Stamford offers daily, as well as bilingual, Mandarin classes, or your child can choose daily Spanish instead. The daily program is 40 minutes a day. The bilingual class is offered in pre-primary with all subjects being taught both in English and Mandarin.
“Stamford accepts student from age five, and we start both the daily and bilingual programs at that age,” Qian explains. “This helps students already learning Mandarin to pick up from their current proficiency level and new Mandarin learners to start developing skills from an early age.”
“Although there are different opinions in the language acquisition community about the ideal time to learn a language, the bulk of research supports the theory that the earlier the better. By introducing Mandarin at this age – and not just the daily communication skills of the language, but also the culture – students have more years of exposure and hopefully develop a deeper appreciation of the language by having the opportunity to experience it more fully.”
A personalised approach
One of the hallmarks of learning Mandarin at Stamford American School Hong Kong is its personalised approach to learning. Students have individual goals that they participate in setting. The school tests proficiency levels twice every quarter to track individual progress and match this against grade level standards.
“Whether students are beginners or of native proficiency, we’re able to support their language learning and help them to achieve their goals,” says Qian. She wants her students to not just learn Mandarin, but also develop a love for it. “I want them to feel confident and be able to express themselves; I also want them to have a rich understanding of the history that’s tied to Mandarin. I’m passionate about teaching, and I want my students to feel the same passion for learning.”
This article first appeared in Expat Living titled HOW TO GET YOUR CHILD TO LOVE LEARNING MANDARIN, https://expatliving.hk/learning-mandarin-stamford-american-school/