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Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Fun-Filled, Learning-Packed Hour at Language Stars

        My son and I just went to our Language Stars* class on Saturday. I say "our" class because I learn (and enjoy it) just as much as he does! One thing that has continued to impress me since our very first class is the well-planned and executed curriculum. The teacher manages to keep both parents and tots engaged and learning for, literally, the entire hour!
        There is a lot to learn every week. There's a song, some new object names, and other vocabulary, such as verbs. This week, we learned some animal names, sang a song about a spider, and focused on big and little.
        One of the first activities was simple but effective: The children each get a big stuffed animal, then each little stuffed animal comes out to look for its mommy. My son got the pig (ju with a high tone).  He thought it was really funny when the wrong animal came up to the pig to see if she was the mommy.  Each child got a different animal and the names were repeated at least 6 to 8 times.
        Of course, throughout class, the adults have to help the little ones ask questions like, "What is your name?"  We do it dutifully, even though most of us are no where close!  The teacher corrects us with patience, stressing the correct sounds.  She asks even the shyest of children (e.g. my son) to repeat the words after her, as well.
        Even snack time is utilized.  Each child is encouraged to say the name of the snack, ask for a plate and cup, and sing the "My Tummy/I'm Thirsty Song."  While the children eat, the teacher reads a relevant story.  The book is usually in English, but she speaks only in Mandarin, pointing out pictures for the little ones.

        While the children are seated, the teacher passes out a coloring sheet.  The purpose is 3-fold:  1) to practice color words, 2) to review the day's vocabulary, and 3) to hang it at home as a reminder of this week's class.  This week, ours was effective, but not fancy.  My daughter came home with a beautiful craft from the older class!  But, it has to be something easy for the little ones, so we colored big (da) and little (shou) chickens.
        We ended class with a song and sitting in the circle again.  Everyone sang the good-bye song (at least the parents tried to), and off we went.  In an hour, we had heard/learned at least 50-80 words, maybe more counting the songs and new vocabulary.  It was a very productive hour indeed.

Thanks for reading!
Any comments on your own second language learning experiences are greatly appreciated.

Teacher Tam

*I get 50% off tuition for blogging. What could be better than talking about something I really enjoy?
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