S’pore children learning Chinese by using it in real life should be how languages are taught

Using a language in real-life settings is a great way to learn.

Kayla Wong | Sponsored | April 24, 2019, 04:03 PM

McDonald’s in Singapore recently handed out free Happy Meals to kids who ordered in Mandarin Chinese:

Well, that campaign was done by a local Chinese tuition centre, Xin Zhong Wen (新中文).

And now, they are back with yet another campaign to promote practical learning outside the classroom.

Learning a second language can be tough

This approach is not without reason.

It can be tough for children to learn the Chinese language at times, especially if you don’t speak it at home with them.

Simply reading the words from a textbook, or being exposed to the language for a mere one hour a day, might not be enough for some children whose only contact with the language is within the classroom.

Real-world usage

As part of their campaign, Xin Zhong Wen sent two children -- a five-year-old and an eight-year-old -- out to the real world to complete tasks while only using Mandarin Chinese.

Here’s a quick rundown of what transpired for these two adorable children while they were trying to complete their tasks.

Taking learning outside the classroom

Five-year-old Janelle managed to buy breakfast and a drink for her teacher, Sophia, without any help from others.

Screenshot via Xin Zhong Wen's video

She counted and managed to add variety to her teacher’s meal by ordering vegetables and a sausage.

Screenshot via Xin Zhong Wen's video

Making mistakes is a part of learning

As for eight-year-old Amelia, she wanted to get presents for her mum and dad.

She managed to get a pen, and also some kueh tutu, a local snack.

Screenshot via Xin Zhong Wen's video

While she ran into some hiccups along the way,

Screenshot via Xin Zhong Wen's video

… she still killed the challenge in the end.

It was a reminder that making mistakes is a valuable part of the learning process.

Screenshot via Xin Zhong Wen's video


Better Mandarin speakers

While children can be trained to speak Mandarin Chinese in fixed settings, such as when they meet someone new, such lessons do not prepare them to adapt to different kinds of settings in real life, where the words spoken by the party they are conversing with are bound to be different from what they learnt in the classroom.

Simply put, practising a language in real-life settings allow them to not only reinforce what they have learnt in the classroom, but also helps them adapt to all sorts of conversation settings.

Furthermore, it allows them to gain confidence in speaking the language.

Xin Zhong Wen’s approach

Chinese tuition centre Xin Zhong Wen follows the same philosophy.  

As part of their lessons, they have something called “Learning Journeys”, where they bring their students out to food courts and supermarkets to better apply what they have learnt in the classroom.

The lesson continues when the children go home too.

“Mission cards” let them continue to practise the language even when they are at home.

And these make language learning less of a chore, and more of a fun activity to look forward to.

Kids learn the fastest when they are having fun

The fun and practical approach that Xin Zhong Wen employs is likely to motivate children to learn too.  

There’s no blind memorisation or rote learning, which is something that might deter the child from liking the language.

By making learning fun, picking up Mandarin Chinese will then be a breeze for the children.

And that’s fantastic.

You can watch both of the videos here, and find out more about Xin Zhong Wen’s Everyday Chinese Challenge here.

This sponsored post by Xin Zhong Wen makes the writer wish learning could be made this fun for all.