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Monday, March 03, 2008

Her Chinese Homework

I registered my girl for a Chinese school last year but actually I am still undecided. I wanted to see how she is coping with her Chinese in kindy and her inclination towards the subject before we make the decision whether to sent her to a Chinese school or otherwise.

So far as I can see, she struggles with the Chinese subject the most. The rest are no problem to her or perhaps the rest have very little homework compared to the Chinese. The Chinese subject has not that much homework compared to what she will get in Chinese school but even then she struggles with it a little. She struggles but I do not see a hatred or barrier towards the subject so far. The teachers tell me that once there is a barrier towards the subject, a child will find it very difficult to learn and be left behind and the further behind the are, the higher the barrier or hatred towards the subject will become.

Everyday when she gets back, she starts her homework immediately after lunch and continues till tea time, takes a nap, wakes up and continues with homework till dinner time and sometimes after dinner. She finishes her English/Malay/Math/Science/Moral homework in 15 minutes and takes up to 4-5 hours to do her Chinese homework sometimes.

She writes the Chinese characters by copying what is given to her but when I ask her what the character is or means she does not know. Despite writing the chinese characters over and over again or repetitively, she does not know the meaning of it and if asked to write the character without looking, she can't. In kindy she mixes with the English speaking kids instead of the Mandarin speaking ones which is natural since she can't speak the language.

Hmm.... how to send her to Chinese school? She will certainly be at a disadvantage to kids who speak Mandarin at home. We have also not had the time to let her practise her online Chinese learning at BetterChinese.com. It would not be very nice for her to always be left behind in school.

Hmm... oh well, I have a few more months before we have to make a decision.


  1. Hi MG. If you don't mind, I just want to share with you my experience with Kelly.

    When she was in Kindy, Chinese too was the language she struggled with the most. Like you, we do not speak Chinese at home, so the only exposure she got was from that few classes of Mandarin in her Kindy. She hated the Chinese writings but she still had to complete the homework.

    She is now in Std 1 in a Chinese School. Her Mandarin has improved tremendously, and not only that, the thing that shocked me was that she actually showed a very keen interest in the language now!

    Last weekend, when we were at the bookshop, we allowed the kids to choose one activity book each. You know, she actually walked to the Chinese activity book isle and chose a Chinese book!!! She came home and started working on the activities and kept asking me questions when she got stuck. Talk about taking initiatives!

    It is amazing how quickly they adapt and then develop the interest that you thought they'd never have.

    Also, one incident got me chuckling. Kelly loves to buy things from the school bookshop. So one day, she asked me for money to buy some "big squared" exercise books. Just out of curiosity, I asked her when she got home that day, "Kelly, how did you tell the auntie what you wanted?"

    She actually repeated the request that she made to the bookshop auntie in Chinese.. a complete sentence.. "Wo yao mai san ben ta fang ge shu."

    I was so impressed!! She speaks chinese with a mat salleh accent and she still refuse to converse in Chinese with me (I think she is shy). But it's ok, because I know she gets to speak the language all she wants in school. I am just thankful she is able to grasp the language.

    I believe, if you just allow your daughter to catch on at her own pace, and it will help if you can find a group tuition.

    Kelly's kindy teacher teach a group of children once a week outside school hours.. and I did sign her up for it. 2 hours per week. I started her on this group tuition middle of last year to prepare her for Std 1, since her chinese was really so bad then. She was the worse in her class.

    But now, the tuition teacher commented that she is so much better compared to when she first started. In fact, she is also on par with the other students in her group.

    Children learn fast hor? Don't give up on the idea of chinese school so quickly.

  2. Chinese can be a challenge...especially if it is not a langugage spoken at home..

  3. Still early to worry abt it yet. I am sure when is closer to the time then you will be able to assess her whetehr to send to Chinese school or not.

  4. jomel,
    Thank you very much for sharing. I'm so confused and lost about what to do. Though, it didn't make me any clearer about what I to do, I appreciate your sharing.

    I've tried learning it on my own before and manage mostly conversational chinese readings.

    contented mum,
    Actually, next year is not really all that far away but you are right, I have some more months to access her.

  5. Both my parents are English-educated and we speak English at home but it did not deter them from sending me to Chinese school. In fact, my mum was also very worried at a point of time that she actually registered me under two schools, Chinese and English/Malay.

    I was studying in an English school for a week before my mum switched me to a Chinese school, which I adapted quite well, even though I was one week late. Perhaps attending Chinese kindy prior to that helped a lot.

    Now that I'm working, I only have my parents to thank for, for sending me to Chinese school. I have friends that tell me how they wished they went to a Chinese school.

    Coming from an English-speaking family isn't necessarily a disadvantage. In fact, I think it is better as your girl learns to speak Chinese in school and on the other hand, she gets to converse in English at home. She would be able to master both languages well, with a little extra effort.

  6. wah...so much homework...me oso dilemma on the language thingy sigh...

  7. grace,
    Thank you so much for your feedback. Your parents must be so happy they did the right thing for you and proud of you.

    Drives me crazy thinking and rethinking. I have changed my mind many times on this issue but I must eventually decide.

  8. Looks like we are facing the same situation. However reading Jomel's comment certainly helped calm my fears a little. At times I comfort myself by saying, "don't underestimate the little boy. Who knows he will survive."

    I guess the best we can do now, is continue to affirm them and hopefully, with maturity, they will pick things up on their own.

  9. wmd,
    Does that mean that you are picking Chinese school over National school?

  10. I hope I dont sound too controversial. But I am from a Chinese school,leh. I dont see any difference. In fact, I am of the opinion that if you dont practice the language or read papers often,u tend to lapse into English because its a more comfortable language. To me, anyhow. I dont even remember much characters anymore, save for what i read at hawker stalls,"chee fun" etc

    Hope I dont offend anyone out there.

  11. hi,

    My daughter has chinese test (ting-siah) every week. Aiyo, such a struggle cos the characters are so foreign even to us. A friend told me to prepare flash cards and read with her often. quite helpful. Just wondering if you have tried preparing your own and how to go about doing it. I can't find websites with prepared chinese character.

    ~meishi, pg~

  12. allthingspurple,
    Good perspective you gave. I don't think its offensive at all.

    Hi Meishi,
    I will reply to that in my next post ok?


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