Philosophy of Education
Our philosophy for teaching the children is to concentrate on speaking and listening, conversational skills, first. Children learn Mandarin Chinese in much the same way as they learn their first, native tongue -- by hearing it, speaking it, using it verbally. For a tonal language such as Mandarin Chinese, this is imperative for mastering early, instinctively, the lilt of the language.
The children learn Mandarin through singing, dancing, exercising, games, outdoor activities, arts and crafts. They are having fun, being engaged, and it's almost transparent to them that the instruction is in Mandarin.
Repetition is important. Topic groups are introduced (e.g., colors, family members, fruits and vegetables...), and later built on, repeated, in various ways in different combinations (for instance, during arts and crafts or singing).
Learning Mandarin Chinese, which is a tonal language, as a child in an immersion program or preschool is the very best way for non-native speakers of the language to lay a life-long, solid, indelible foundation of fluency in a language that is not easy to learn as an adult, but which over 1.3 billion people and counting speak.
Children learn the tones instinctively, without analysis, at face value. They do this in part because they are children and in large part because they are having fun, playing games, singing songs, painting a picture -- where the instruction just happens to be in Mandarin Chinese.
When Chinese characters are introduced, the children already know, verbally, the meaning, pronunciation and usage. The character is then merely one additional knowledge unit to associate with a word that is already part of their conversational vocabulary. Simple characters (those with few strokes) are introduced first, then more complex (multi-stroke) characters. Children learn stroke order and how to write characters correctly.
Our teachers are warm and caring. We feel that this is very important for children in preschool. As much as the subject matter is important, it's even more important that the children like to learn and have fun doing so, as they build relationships with their teachers and other children in a positive environment.
As children in the program near the end of their preschool years, and prepare for kindergarten (or homeschooling), they will have acquired enough Mandarin Chinese to hold simple conversations, and they will know enough characters to be able to read and write simple sentences. They will be well on their way to functional fluency in a language that many consider to be one of the most difficult to learn.