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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mandarin vs. Dance Class

Believe it or not, I have found several people who don't understand why I take my kids to Mandarin classes.  The most recent comment was, "You're going WHERE?  WHY?"  (Said in THAT tone.)  Of course, I just sigh and launch into the same prepared speech that I have already given about 10 or 12 times (no exaggeration).  It goes something like:  I take them because I think it's important to learn a language;  the most spoken language in the WORLD is Mandarin;  studies show they'll do better academically, not to mention have less of a chance of Alzheimer's;  and, last but not least, they are part Chinese so learning about their cultural heritage is important.  I thought everyone was taking their kid to SOMETHING, so I really don't understand why people seem so shocked.  Nobody bats an eye when I say we're going to dance class.

At the same time, I realize that it might be a little hard to understand because it is somewhat out of the ordinary.   I know that my children have a unique opportunity.  As far as I know, Language Stars* only exists in Chicagoland & Washington, D.C., so I feel very lucky that my kids even have the option of learning Mandarin.  But, that's not the only reason we go to Language Stars.  Maybe a couple of pictures from recent weeks will help clarify why I take my kids to Language Stars and what they are getting out of it.

Isn't this just adorable?  It's no wonder my son LOVED it!  

The tiger toy was a hit!
On this particular day, the teacher had 2 HUGE, brightly-colored bags in the corner of the room.  My son and the other children kept looking at them throughout the beginning of class.  When she finally opened the bags, they couldn't wait to see what was inside.  Blow-up toys!  The topic was zoo animals and she had 4 or 5 different animals represented.  All of the children were so happy just to get the animals that they were gladly repeating  (or trying to repeat) the animal names as she passed them out one by one.  Pairing the language with fun activities makes learning Mandarin fun and easy!  

Nothing gets their attention like water!  

My son would do this ALL day!  

These pictures are from back in the spring when the lesson focused on counting.  The teacher would count the fish as they went "swimming" in the water.  We did a similar activity this week as we studied ocean animals.  Their eyes literally light up when the teacher lifts the tub down from the shelf.  There's just something about splashing water that makes for a really fun class!  Every child is listening attentively while she counts, names animals, and describes what they are doing.  Children have to be engaged before they can be taught.  The teachers and planned activities at Language Stars do a wonderful job engaging students.  

So, in a nutshell, we go to Language Stars because not only are they learning Mandarin, but my children are learning Mandarin in a play-based, engaging manner.  They're learning a second language and having fun doing it.  And, to me, that's much better than any dance class.  

Thanks for reading,

*We get 50% off of our tuition for blogging about our Language Stars experience.  But, all opinions expressed here are my own.  

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