Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mandarine through drama

Today we started a new class. We, as in I'm the teacher and Den and her three other homeschooler friends are the students.

The class is temporary named "Mandarin through drama". I'm still looking for a more fancy name. ^^

The objective of the class is to use dramatic activities to cultivate the interest in Mandarin and to encourage the use of the language, especially in spoken form.

Ive been thinking of starting something like this for the past year or so but not sure if I can fit it into my schedule. I also worry about the materials. Most of the stuff I had were in English.

Blessedly, when I finally took up the challenge then everything just came together- the other kids agreed to join in and we managed to find a common time; a set of usable material completed with CD and DVD just miraculously appeared in Border (I was browsing for some other stuff!). Praise the Lord!

Before I go into the detail of what we did on our first class today, let me explain the background of my students-

Den, my 7+ dd, since our last year "improve Mandarin year", her Mandarin improved a lot. Still not up to her age level yet. May be around k1-k2 level. This year, I still try to make Mandarin our priority (but not as much as last year). One of the main problem is we seldom use the language in our daily life, so she is very much lacking of practice.

Dan, 9+. Have been taking weekly Chinese classes for sometime now but refuses to speak any Chinese.

Jo, 6+. Dan's little sister. Currently taking weekly Chinese classes too but rather weak with Chinese vocabulary.

Car, 8+. Just starting to learn Chinese using Basic Chinese book 1. Both parents doesn't speak Mandarine.

I design the class not to replace any Chinese classes or program they have been using, but as an add on.

Class 1 (3 April 2012)
Intro: I greeted the kids Good Morning, children! (小朋友,早上好!) and asked them to greet me back with Good morning, Auntie! (Auntie, 早上好!).

Then I asked for a volunteer to translate what I said into English. Right away, Den raised her hand and offered to be my volunteer (she did a wonderful job, I was so surprised! She can translate about 90% of what I said and she even translated the narration from the DVD!)

I gave them a few simple rules - raised your hand when you need to go to toilet or have question; give me a sign if I speak too fast...I tend to do that; try to use as many Mandarine words as possible in class and I told them I accept mixed sentences like this - 我 don't 明白!

After that I led them in prayer. I prayed in Mandarin and they repeated after me.

After prayer, we started our class with a movement activity. I told them we are going to take bath (洗澡or冲凉) and we are going to wash our face (洗脸), hand (手), leg (腿). After that the mirror (镜子) got very misty and we need to wipe it clear.

Then I play the DVD of Peggy Lyman and John M. Feierqbend called Move It 1 (one of the greatest find in Border recently- 舞起來) . It has 20 movement pieces with 20 classical music. The whole set - Cd, DVD and Chinese instruction booklet only cost RM45. I'm going back to buy the part two.

For today movement, we used Anitra's Dance. The kids participated even though their actions had rooms to be improved, I think it was a good first time.

After that we watched today story The Lost Du Du 嘟嘟迷路了 on DVD. This is from the set of material I found in Border. It is an integrated material by 南京师大 to be use in k2 kindergarten. It includes story telling, songs, craft, activities and reading. It comes with cd, DVD, readers, activities pack. I did not buy the reading material because it is too difficult for most of them.

It was a simple story about a little bear Du Du lost his way while picnicking with his family members in the jungle. At the end he managed to found his way back to his family.

Not a difficult story but most of them didn't understand. So I had to paused the DVD a few time to explain. 

After that we discussed about our past experiences when we were English! ^^

I also mentioned the important of memorizing parent's phono number. I asked them to write down their parents phone number on a piece of paper without showing anyone (one of them didnt know her parents phone number) and after that they had to use action to act out the last number for us to guess.

From there I linked it to the story of the lost sheep in the Bible. I retold it in Mandarin. With the help of a picture Bible and my little translator, they understood this familiar parable.

After the story, I introduced a Sunday school song called The Lost Sheep 迷路的羊. We came up with the actions and we practice it twice. By the end of it, most of them can sing the first two sentence - 迷路的羊,迷路的羊。

They were hungry (or bored) after that, so we ended the class here.

I gave them two assignments -

1. Watch the story DVD for at least 3 time

2. Sing 迷路的羊

Our next class is next week.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Recently a reporter from a local Chinese newspaper wrote about how she was having a very difficult time with her recent assignment. Her assignment was to interview middle age folks about their dreams.

Folks have answers like I hope my dd will get into the local Uni or my ds will become a very good doc etc. But when the reporter told them this is not what she wanted- she wanted them to tell her their own dreams, not about their ds or dd- they just look at her blankly...the reporter wondered does parenthood took away the ability to dreams?

I don't know, does it?

What is your dream?

The question has been on my mind for many days because I don't have a ready answer for it.

In my case, it is not so much of parenthood took away my ability to dream. When I look back I have never been much of a dreamer. Growing up in a typical Chinese family in modern time, I've been taught to be logical, sensible and the impractical dreams are for the fools.

Growing up I don't have any vision and ambition for my life, I never dream of what I want to be... I only know I don't want to be a mon and I don't want to be a teacher. Isn't that ironic that I'm both now?

I want Den to dream big, to dream the impossible. I find biographies helps a lot. Reading about how others achieve the impossibles help her to see the possibility in achieving hers.

She has been saying she want to be a scientist but not sure in which field. So whenever we read about something that even the current scientists are still puzzled about, she will right away say, "May be that is the field I should go into!" ^^

But then how about me? Shouldn't I be dreaming for my self too? How do I teach her to dream when I dont?

So I've been contemplating on that. What do I really really hope/wish to do? What is the thing I will really regret I didn't do when I lie in my death bedt? Not looking at the achieve-bility but what my heart really want. I've a few possibilities but I'm actually not sure those are really what I want. So I'm going to think them over and hopefully will find one that I want to focus on.

No, I'm not sharing my dream here.