Earlier during the June School Holidays, Ash was invited by Chengzhu Madarin Centre for a 5-day Madarin Holiday Programme.
Chengzhu Mandarin Centre has evolved from Julia Gabriel Centre, as a result of running Mandarin programmes for over 12 years. With demand for holistic Chinese learning spiking in recent years, I can understand why there is a need for an expansion of Julia Gabriel Education's Mandarin language offerings. Especially since my monkies hardly utter a word of Mandarin at home.
Which is why when I first told Ash that he would be attending a week long Mandarin workshop, his face was swashed with a ghastly white and his palms turned icy cold. Okay, so I exaggerate. But it would not be too far off when I say that he wasn't too keen on attending it.
Too bad for him then, since I had already accepted the invitation on his behalf. Hah!
When the D-day arrived and as he nervously dragged his feet into class, I took the opportunity to explore the learning centre. And what caught my eye was The StoryHouse (故事屋) which is essentially a children’s library.
But what is more than the usual children's library are the bright colours, cosy corners, pint-size furniture, reading loft, and shelves full of Mandarin books, that came with it.
I was told that every child is encouraged to visit the StoryHouse each week to borrow books to take home, or just simply to chill and browse there.
And if reading gets a tad too stale, there is always the mini indoor playground outside the classrooms to perk the students up!
Of course, the thing I was most curious about was how Ash was coping in his class. And so I sneaked a peek.
The holiday programme was titled 'Media Mandarin Moguls', and it was targeted at Primary 1 and 2 kids. They will star in their own cartoon by scripting their own dialogues and providing voice-overs for an animated snippet.
Yup, ALL done in Mandarin.
So nervous yet, my dear Ash?
Heh. Well, apparently not. Because after the first day of attending the programme, he proudly declared that he had chosen to be the voice of the Lion in the cartoon. And that he was looking forward to the dubbing of his voice for the cartoon a few days later. I swore I detected a hint of glee in his eyes when he said that.
Anyway, not that I am complaining. Rather, my interest was piqued. And I got to satisfy my curiosity on the fourth day of class when I got to sit in together with the rest of the students.
In order for the kids to be immersed in their respective characters, the teachers conducted a series of warm-up activities before the actual voice-over session. One of which was the mouthing of the line 'You are late' (in Mandarin of course) in 4 different expressions - happy, sad, angry and surprised. It was extremely fun to see all the kids eagerly morphing into the various expressions at the sight of the cue cards. Perfect facial exercise I reckon.
And then, it was time for the main event. As the cartoon played over the screen, each of the kids were tasked to mouth the dialogues of the animals that they had been assigned previously.
So when the Lion appeared on screen, it was Ash's turn to say his lines into the microphone.
The kids were made to run through the entire script a few times, as the final day of the holiday programme would see parents being invited to sit in and view their own kids in action as they provide the voice-overs for the cartoon.
Unfortunately, Ash could only attend the first 4 days of the workshop as we were due to drive up to KidZania on the final day of the programme. And I could see that he was genuinely disappointed about that. Which is a GOOD thing, because it meant that he really enjoyed his time in class. And a Mandarin one at that!
To be honest, this is the first time Ash has attended a wholly Mandarin workshop so I can't really make a comparison with other learning centres. But I personally thought that the class was rather well-conducted, and that the 2 teachers were able to stimulate and encourage the use of Mandarin throughout the entire session.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Mandarin Programmes that Chengzhu Mandarin Centre has to offer, click HERE. Or you can pop down their Open House this weekend (23 & 24 June 2012) to have a first-hand look of their programmes on offer. Details are as shown below.
Chengzhu Mandarin Centre
35 Rochester Drive,
#03-01 Rochester Mall,
Tel: (65) 6737 5348 | Fax: (65) 6737 2136