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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Review : Julia Gabriel Mandarin Speech & Drama - N1 class

We ended our N1 parents accompanied program after 1 Term (10weeks), Mandarin Speech and Drama at Julia Gabriel last month. Our goal for the class was for both KB and me to get excited at conversational mandarin. I also liked a parent accompanied program so that I can observe and participate in my child's learning. Firstly, I had no one to converse mandarin with at home. Daddy speaks Bahasa in addition to English , so all my child picked up was mandarin and Bahasa songs and that's it.

Our theme was: Toys "Wan Ju"


Warm-up with toys - kids joins the class and plays freely with toys on the mat
Circle time - Introducing each one, saying hello and singing songs with action
Drama - Teachers dons a head-gear and enacts a short story with reference to the day's object
Magic Box - A magic box is brought out to let class guess what is inside (usually toy of the day)
Worksheet - simple word recognition and pasting exercise are done
Ends - Class ends with more songs.

We signed up for seven sessions and that was just enough for us. The program structure seems a little stale and towards the third or forth session, KB last interest in the magic box. He was into the drama where the teachers enacted stories. It was a simple 5-15mins stories which does not have most creative plots or storyline. There were not much props that stimulates a child visually. A pity since it is a drama class. I thought there should at least be more creativeness in this class.

Review of items teachers taught:
Songs that was sung was good as it coincides with the 'toy of the day'.

Word recognition and worksheet was rather pointless as the program was for 2-3year olds. It was not my focus to work on word recognition so we did not work on that at all.

The Magic box concept was an interesting prop that was so over-used and hence "an over-kill'. I almost doze off on that one too.

Review of the way teachers relate:
In two instances, the main teacher used peer pressure to get KB to do something the rest of the class was doing. Personally, I felt that was unprofessional. A young child may be developmentally not ready or not interested. I assume she was a trained teacher in early childhood development but it failed to show up. It was a far cry from the gym class I signed KB up. The instructor, Renee, at The little Gym were so gentle and polite in reaching out to a child that it really gave the child respect and hence confidence to try something new.

Final verdict
It is not what is being taught as opposed to how it is being taught that matters.

The final product is that my child learns but refused to show it in class. He has started to speak to our mandarin-speaking neighbours in mandarin and he has been more at ease speaking mandarin to each other at home. There were few instances where he initiates speaking mandarin as well.

Would I recommend this class?
Maybe. If you're looking for creative class with a high energy child, I'd say this one pretty much stifles everything. If this is a kick-start for English speaking homes and kids who are quite young, this may be an introduction. I like that the class speaks only mandarin for 1 hour, because our homes do not provide this sort of environment. The good thing is there is no need to sign up for the whole term of 10weeks, and you can go for trial class as well.