Tag Archive: Homeschool

To be effectively bilingual

Yesterday, we had a little Christmas party for the little ones (which I will write more about when the photos come in). During one of the free play, I saw little man beckoning the older boy J to play with him. “哥哥,玩球!” J did not respond as he was busy playing with the other younger ones. Then little man turned to N who was closest to him and said, “N,我们玩球!” N, whose home language is English, looked puzzled and turned away to play with E. In the end, little man played his balloon by himself.

This scene kept running through my mind. Most of these children speak (and are often spoken to in) English at home. Being only two years old, most of them are strong only in a single language. Hence, many of them did not respond to little man when he asked them to play in Mandarin. I do not know if this is something I should be worried about. Will little man be outcasted if most of his future classmates only speak English? Will he be able to communicate and play with them? Will it affect his emotional well-being? There are so many questions in my mind.

It was a deliberate decision to speak to little man in Mandarin from young. Both Hubby and I are strong in the language, we wanted him to have a strong foundation in Chinese as well. As a Chinese language teacher, I saw how influential the English-speaking environment can be. Many second-generation Chinese from China are not able to do well in the language because of such influences. A parent from China once lamented how their children only speak English to their siblings and peers. I certainly do not want that to happen to little man. Yes, we are Singaporean Chinese, not China Chinese, but the fact is we are Chinese no matter where we claim to be from. Chinese is a beautiful language. It will be such pity if my own children cannot express themselves well in the language.

English is definitely a very important language, hence we started building up little man’s English vocabulary from young as well. At one point, he became very good in naming things in English, but terrible in understanding English instructions; became very good in conversing in Mandarin, but terrible in Chinese vocabulary. It was such an irony, I decided then to start teaching him vocabulary in both languages concurrently. For example, if we saw a penguin, I will tell him that it is a penguin, 企鹅. It worked pretty well to my surprise, and little man can now name most of the things in both Mandarin and English. However, his preferred language is still Mandarin.

Now, I am making an attempt to speak more to him in English, and have him reply me back in English. Due to his limited ability to express himself in English, I will often have to repeat what he wanted to say in English, and have him repeat after me. It is not an easy process, even for me. But it is something we will have to go through together.

I was born to a Chinese-speaking family. My parents rarely speak English. My father told me that when I first attended school, I was daydreaming most of the time because I do not understand the teacher. English was a terribly foreign language to me. Believe it or not, I learnt English by memorizing the dictionary in my younger years. It doesn’t help that both my primary and early secondary schools are Chinese schools. It was only when I got into SNGS, the English language then started to slowly internalize for me. I personally hope that my children will have an easier time internalizing the language, because English is indeed important.

But Chinese, Chinese is the language that makes a difference. Everybody speaks good English, it is nothing special. But when you are strong in Chinese as well, you will be surprise the kind of journey this strength can take you. I did not know about it, until I join the workforce in Public Relations. Being effectively bilingual make you unique and highly sought after. Imagine when there is a press conference that suddenly requires a English-Chinese translator because the artists are from Taiwan and the reporters only understand English. You are chosen to do this important job although you are just a newbie, because you are effectively bilingual. And this is just one of the many scenarios from my first PR job that showed me how important the Chinese language is.

I will try to do a good job in slowly getting little man to be effectively bilingual. It is not easy, especially when you are talking about language and boys. But I know we will get there, eventually.

Flashcards display

Little man has never been a fan of flashcards. They bored him within a few seconds, hence I mostly teach him by using the traditional show-and-tell method. However, I still continue to buy flashcards because flashcards allow a constant visual presence which is important in my humble opinion. Instead of flashing the cards, I will use it as a game to play with him, or as a tool for revision.

I have seen how some mothers have flashcards and charts stuck on the walls. Being a near-perfectionist, I could not stand having my walls dirtied, hence I never got down to pasting anything on the walls as much as I tried to convince myself.

It came to me one day that I can use something else to hold the cards, instead of the walls. So Hubby and I started searching on Taobao for something that can work for us. And we found this.

Little man picking up the letters and put them in the correct order.

This display board is perfect for me!

I don’t have to hang it on the wall. It can stand on its on. It can be kept flat when not in use. I can already think of a hundred ways to use it. 🙂

Returning to our playdates 30th October 2014

Last Thursday, we went back to our playdates after missing two weeks of it. I don’t know if little man miss his little friends, but I sure miss my mummy friends!

Some of these mummies have been saying how our playdates will come to an end after 7 more weeks. By then, most of our toddlers will be attending school. Thinking of it makes me feel a tinge of sadness. I have really enjoyed all the playdates with the little ones and their mummies. I think these playdates kept me sane too. I will miss all our adult and little friends very much. But I believe we will all keep in touch and meet up as often as we can!

Alright, let the photos do the talking!

An interesting introduction to the animals.

We love interactive storybooks!

A detailed explaination of how to do the artwork of a monkey.

So many colours to choose from!

Learning to colour.

My sweaty baby’s monkey!

Why so serious, children? 😉

Chinese story time!

Let’s sing a Chinese song!

The snack time that everyone looks forward to!

Who can resist balls and balloons!

Till we meet again!

Little man of many words (sometimes gibberish)

Little man is now at a phase where he wants to talk and communicate with us. Sometimes, he simply talk gibberish but with plenty of emotions and facial expression, it’s so cute to watch him.

These days, he would request for me to put down whatever I am doing (most of time when I am in the kitchen) and accompany me. He would come and hug my legs and say, “妈妈,陪。” It’s hard to reject him when he is saying it so sweetly, but very often I would ask him to wait and explain to him that I am cooking his meals. I think it is important to teach him the virtue of patience, hence I try hard not to give in to his every request immediately especially when I am in the midst of doing something.

Yesterday, when I was in the middle of texting someone, little man came to me and say,”妈妈,手机,放下。陪泓昊。” I was so surprised to hear this whole string of words from him, I had to put down my mobile phone and give him a tight hug.

This evening, my mother called to say that she will be coming over with some food for little man. I told him,”婆婆买了鱼和肉给泓昊,等一下婆婆来了,要跟婆婆说谢谢,知道吗?” Shortly after, little man came to me and say,”婆婆来,买,鱼,肉,泓昊,谢谢。”

I think it is a strong sign of little man’s readiness to learn to say a proper sentence. Hence these days I have been speaking to him in a slower pace, repeating in both English and Chinese. I will also repeat the nouns or important words of that particular sentence twice in both languages. So far, he has been very receptive towards both languages, although he tends to reply in Mandarin.

Ideally, I would like to have more people speak to him in the way that I have. This is especially so for Hubby. But I also understand that after a long day at work, Hubby really don’t have much energy left to be as particular as me when communicating with little man. But we will all try. Right, Laogong?

Playdate 28th August 2014

I look forward to every Thursday where we go for our playgroup activities and little man do some group learning.

We started with some free play with the little farmhouse C has prepared for the children.

Then we went on to recap the colours and shapes that were taught previously.

L using various items to teach the different colours and shapes.

Listening attentively.

Next, C brought out a book about a farmhouse. The children were delighted to see so many animals and couldn’t wait to go forward and point to the animals C mentioned in her story.

The post-story activity was animal mask-making. Mummies and the little children have to make an animal mask togther. Alhtough the mummies were the one doing all the job, I think the children had fun helping us to paste.

Little man with his mask

Teaching little man how to play with the mask

C with a mirror, showing the children what they can do with the masks.

Beautiful masks! I myself was pretty impressed 🙂

After playing with the masks for a while, we had some snacks.

And we proceeded to Chinese story-telling and songs.

It’s definitely not easy to get all of them to pay attention. Mama must work harder on that.

At this point, little man became cranky and made a big fuss while I was telling the story. On one hand, I think he was getting tired. On the other hand, he probably only wants Mama to pay attention to him, not other children. He was really upset when I ignored him and continue the story with other children. His temper is getting really bad, especially when he is tired or hungry. I hope that my perseverance in disciplining him will eventually teach him to control his temper better.

Next, we went on to practical life, sorting of colours and shapes.

I was really happy to see little man grow as he grasps the concepts of certain activities that he never gets previously. I was gleaming with pride when he finally sorted out the colours and shapes without difficulty. It was a great moment for Mama. 🙂 At the early stage when we were teaching shapes and colours, little man was either not interested or do not understand the concept of these. This is especially so for colours. It is so intangible, I do not know how to explain to him. At one point, I wa wondering if he is able to differentiate the colours at all. I am glad that my fears were unfound, now that he is able to sort the various colours given to him. Although he still gets their names wrong, I am not too concerned with that.

Having learning sessions with other children, also allow me to see how little man interacts with them. It was surprising for me to see little man being more aggressive than he usually was when trying to get things his way with other children. This will be his learning point for every session he has with these lovely little playmates. Thankfully, we have very understanding fellow mummies.

Group Photo!

Colours play

Being rather particular about cleanliness, I hardly allow little man to play with crayons, colour pencils, paints or anything of that sorts. I am careful not to put myself in a situation where I would be frustrated and spend more time cleaning up rather than enjoying myself. Hence, I was pretty excited when I read about how Addie let her son play with paints without making a frustrating mess. You can read more about it here.

And so, on a rainy Tuesday, after little man was done with his lunch and poos and whatever that could happen when he instinctively knew that Mama is planning something for him, we finally got to try out the new washeable paints I bought from Kiddy Palace.

This brand of paint is not as washeable as I would like it to be. It took a long while of washing for me and little man to get it off our hands (and his body). On this aspect, I think the Crayola washeable paints are so much better. Luckily, the paints on the walls and floor were easily washed away with water.

Little man focusing on his artwork.

Lovely final product 🙂

I think little man did enjoyed himself, although as usual, he requested to wash his hands after he saw how dirty they became, and wanted nothing to do with the paints anymore. Nevertheless, it was a good try for both Mama and little man. 🙂

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