Monday, January 11, 2016

Primary One: Learning about the Chinese Curriculum

Chinese is a language which I have been openly anal about since Dumpling was young. While we homeschooled on the rest of the subjects, Dumpling attended a Full Chinese Immersion daily classes during her preschool years but I did work with her on various activities at home for Chinese to further cement the foundation. 

Then lo and behold, MOE announced a change in the Mother Tongue syllabus for Dumpling’s batch during late 2014 where the focus is for our children to be active learners and proficient of the language. Hence with that, came brand new textbooks, workbooks and flashcards.

I noted some differences between the old syllabus and this new one. 

:: Meaningful topical approach

A flip through the book shows that the content is meant to be something relate-able and using topical approach on everyday topics.

This comparing to the old syllabus (see bottom half of the photo) where the topics are not something that is meaningful or useful for the children. 

:: More words

A quick comparison between the old versus the new one seems to suggest that new syllabus covers more words.

Below is the comparing the words between the old and new:

This is also because based on the old syllabus, HYPY is very much the focus for the first few months before they embark on word recognition. With this new syllabus, HYPY is taught in every chapter.

You can also that with the new syllabus, children are taught to write more words and from Chapter 1.

:: More topics and a focus on Oracy

The new textbook appears to be more comprehensive with the wider range of topics which you can see from the contents page above. Additionally, it also has a stronger emphasis on the verbal part with more daily “conversations” captured in the illustrations. 

:: So what goes on for tests?
For Dumpling, she was on holistic assessments last year so there was no formal Semester Assessments. What took place instead for her school was that there were bite size assessments from week 5 where the “elements” were broken down into different weeks.

For e.g. for Chinese, Week 5 could be Listening Comprehension, Week 6 could be Oral – Read aloud, Week 7 could be Show and Tell and Week 8, the written paper.

So for Oracy, on a termly basis, there are always 2 parts: either a read aloud + show and tell or read aloud + picture description. Schools will usually send back a sheet to share guidelines and even a template. I have previously shared on some show and tell tips for P1 here.

:: What about Ting Xie?
For many of my GFs and Dumpling’s school, Ting Xie (Chinese Spelling) features a mix of Han Yu Pin Yin and the words. When I first saw the list, I was very worried. To me, HYPY is to assist the child to read better with a list of mix words in a sentence, how is the child able to recall which part are the words are and which, is the HYPY?

For Dumpling, her school teacher will prompt them either verbally or write the structure on the white board in a format of dash and squares.

So for e.g. for the first ting xie list in the below picture

 the teacher may write this out on the board for item 9:

This format allows the class to know which goes where. Of course, not all schools use this format so you may need to check on this with your teacher. 

So is the Chinese work manageable? At the moment, yes, but as always, I believe in consistent work. So how do I revise, you may ask. 

Here’s my 3 study tips.

1) Speak and Tell!  
To help make it more natural for Dumpling to speak it more often, I bought 2 books on Oracy practice to work on read aloud as well as picture description. I will share that in a separate post as this post is becoming quite long. 

I also try very hard to set aside a specific time – just that 10 mins car ride / during meal time to have meaningful conversations with her. It exposes the child to useful and applicable vocabulary (e.g. in Book 1B, there is a topic on food) which I think is important and useful.

2) Consistent work  
I go through the words with Dumpling weekly when it is time for her ting xie. Now, for your test prep work, you can refer back to this list too as there will be “fill in the blanks” part for the kids in the papers.

What you can do is also to use the glossary for revision for questions which ask about the 旁边. 

The glossary also provides a good list of words which your child should be able to "read" and "write". These will be the words that the tests should be based on for the moment.

3) Read read read
Though this is not a immediate tangible thing, I always encourage parents to read with and read to your children from a young age. It need not be a full book daily; a few pages is a good way to start. Download Chinese dictionary onto your phone which will be helpful if you come across any words that you don't know. 

The reading is important as it increases not only vocabulary bank but helps with proper sentence structure which will be useful when the children start to work on composition. 

I have previously written a post on nuturing a love for the Chinese language before and you can read more about it here:

Part 1: Read Read Read (books of a different kind)

Part 2: Speak it, Use it!
Part 3: Watch it!
Part 4: Play It! 
Part 5: Write it! (小书 Small Book)

Mummy blogger Mrs Kam has also written about the new Chinese Curriculum here. In it, she addresses the issue of mixing HYPY and Han character and some sharing on her conversation with her son's P1 Chinese teacher. :)

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  1. Hi
    May I know which Full Chinese Immersion daily class did you send your child to? Keen to send mine too. Thanks.

    1. Hi, I am not sure if they are still offering it. Can you drop me an email instead? Thanks

  2. Great to hear that they made positive changes to the Chinese Curriculum. For now, I encouraging Sophie to keep reading and conversing in Chinese, which helps to build up her confidence as she becomes more proficient in the language. Looking forward to more on these series.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Susan. Yes, reading is key as it builds up her vocab bank and will help her in compo next time. :) We just started a 30-day challenge in the FB group as you know! Let's see if I can persevere! :p

  3. Thank you for your great post. May I know are these (new syllabus) textbooks will be used for next year 2018 primary 1 pupils too? TIA :)

    1. They should be since these are still relatively new :)

    2. Great! So I can pass down my eldest son's books to my daughter soon.Thanks for your replied :)

    3. Great! So I can pass down my eldest son's books to my daughter soon.Thanks for your replied :)

  4. Hi, thanks so much for sharing! It is really an useful guide for me. May I know more info for the 2 books on Oracy practice? Thanks in advance

    1. Hi, my apologies for the late reply. My notification seems to be "off" and I did not realise that you left a message. Here's 2 you can consider:

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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