Jay & Kay – Truth about Learning Chinese

Date:  July 23, 2013

This is going to be an interesting topic.  You may not agree to my thoughts, but this is what I am facing currently, and I am trying my best to “fix” it (for Jay Jay) and “prevent” it (for Kay Kay).

Look at the following video clips.  It is about Kay Kay flipping thru his Chinese flash cards from Lorna Whiston Pre-School.  Kay Kay is almost 4 years old in a months time.  He has learned all these flash cards from school.  

Hint:  When it comes to “的”, he reads “是“ which suppose to be the next card.  HaHaHa… Take note of that.

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/v/VVNUKqZmgyE

Now here is my doubts and thoughts….

1.  When Jay Jay is at his age, somehow, Jay Jay also can read almost all his flash cards.  

2.  However, as Jay Jay grows up, and he did not touch those flash cards, Jay Jay actually forgot more than half of it.

3.  This is when I recall the following…. Jay Jay & Kay Kay has very good and special ability to memorise songs.  For example, both kids can sing Teresa Teng’s 月亮代表我的心 without seeing or reading the lyrics.  They just listen, remember and sing.

4.  So, when you flip thru the flash cards, it is like singing.  The words are read out in a certain orders.  I believe it has been done many times in school that the school kids all are able to “memorise” the flash cards sequences.  I see both Jay Jay and Kay Kay shows the same “impressive” reading of these Chinese flash cards. 

5.  I used the word “memorised” because after some times they did not practise the songs from their annual concerts, they actually forgot about the lyrics.  So, the same thing happen to these flash cards reading.  Jay Jay actually forgot about all these Chinese words after K2.  So, when he went to P1, he actually struggles for quite some time.

6.  We thought of sending him to Berries 百力果 may helped him, but we were wrong.  We sent him to sent him to “高级中文” (Higher Grade Chinese) in Berries 百力果 and as a result, it confused him, and the learning is not effective for Jay Jay at all.  (Some kids may be better in learning, but not mine!)

7.  What happens in Berries 百力果, is the teachers commented that Jay Jay is a “fast learner” in class, somehow, he forgets what he learned the previous week very fast too.  So, it is actually becomes so ineffective where going to Berries 百力果 becomes a burden to Jay Jay.

8.  Of course, it is also parents fault that we do not spent much time to teach Jay Jay Chinese at home.  We speak in Chinese but we seldom take out his text book and teach him.  We thought leaving it to the teachers will do, but obviously we were wrong.

9.  The key of solving this problem is… immediately, I stopped the Berries 百力果 course for Jay Jay.  And I go online look for a suitable Chinese Tutor for Jay Jay.  And then, we let the Chinese Tutor to resume the “role of parents”, revise what the child has learned in school.  This is precisely what is needed by Jay Jay being a P1 students.  He learns Chinese from his Chinese Teacher in class, and when he comes back, one time a week (for 1.5 hours) he revised what he has learned with his Chinese Home Tutor (a professional home tutor) the same materials he learn from school.

10.  I want to share this big joke to you.  Before June holidays, me or my wife will usually gives 听写 (Chinese Spelling) to Jay Jay.  May be June holiday is way too long (one month of vacations and fun and games).  When the school starts in July, we forgot all about Spelling and 听写.  So, Jay Jay happens to have a 听写 on July 11 & July 18.  And me and my wife actually forgot all about it.  But Jay Jay has scored well on both.

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11.  We were very puzzled and thought it was Jay Jay who is in self learning mode, and managed to score well.  And we look at the Chinese writing he did, it was very different and very well written.  It’s neat.

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12.  Later, Jay Jay actually explained to me that… The Chinese Tutor Ms. Chen Xian Ru lao-shi, actually gave him 听写 and teach him a week before each 听写.  So, he did have practise and learn how to write it properly.

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13.  I am glad that I got Ms. Chen as her home tutor.  a) we don’t have to spent time sending him to Berries.  b) she actually follows 100% the school syllabus and teach Jay Jay in a revising mode.  c)  It is one to one.  And it does not cost too much more than sending him to Berries.  Now we have a person (not us) guiding him how to write proper Chinese.  Revising what he has learned in school.  Teaching him calligraphy.  Teaching him 成语.   

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14.  She bought this book for Jay Jay.  And we did not know there are such a book.  It is actually “based on the latest textbook”.

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15.  I like about this book because it actually list out all the words that a student must be able to READ and WRITE (听写).  

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16.  As for Kay Kay, now since he is very good in reading / memorising the flash cards.  Now, we spent extra time reading together with him.  So we have to find books that has all the related words that he has in his flash card packs.  And then, when we read together with him, we asked him to read it out loud.  Some times, he will say he don’t know.  But then, when we show him the flash card, he instantly recognise the word and know how to read.

17.  Same as Jay Jay, I don’t think we will sent him to Berries.  If we do sent him, we will sent him to “Normal Class” instead of the “Higher learning Chinese”. But I think by the time Kay Kay grows up, he will have better foundations in Chinese.

18.  As a conclusions, here is the summary.  If your kid can read the flash cards well, it may not mean that kids is really knowing the words.  It could be a memorising thingy.  So, you have to explain the words or at least ask him to write it out using a Chinese Calligraphy brushes.  And the most importantly, read more story books with him, and most of the time, ask him to read it. (those words he knew).

Of course, after fixing their Chinese.  We need to fix Kay’s English too.  

Somehow, when Kay Kay shows strong interest in learning Chinese, his learning ability for English drops.  Not sure why, but let’s see how.  May be is in the Gene.  Jay Jay also quite slow in his English.  We have to sent him to BrainFit to fix it.

So, for Kay Kay, I started to make him learn sight words as advised by the teacher in Lorna Whiston.

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so, I bought this book from Popular Book Store.  And it has all these flash cards you can cut out.

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So, each week, you learned 4 words.

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Then, you have some exercise and games that you can do.  And you learn extra 2 words such as ball & boy.  They will put pictures beside the words to help students to remember.

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You then learn another 4 words in the following weeks.

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Then, you can see the sentences has changed to incorporate the new words.  So, the key is the more you learn, the more you read, and with practise, you will recognise this words automatically.

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This is Kay Kay in the morning, after spending time learning the sight words for the past two days.  

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/v/IibmFFSyo38

Teaching kids is not hard.  You just need to pay more attention to them.  And devise some plan really that can help them.  Sending them to enrichment class is one solution.  But if you sent them there and then you do not revise together with them, that will defeats all the purpose of learning.  What you need your kid to do is to learn and understand.  一起加油吧!

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