Immersion in a Chinese Kindergarten

Please forgive my whining last post. I am actually a bit sick, and when I wrote the post I was feeling funky on my way to feeling unwell.

The kids are doing so well with their Chinese. I think Jie-jie was feeling a bit inhibited about speaking outside of school, but now, with Mei-mei much more comfortable babbling on in Chinglish, Jie-jie is starting to come into her own as well.

I don’t know how ELL instruction works in the U.S., but here in China they really don’t have any such thing. It is a balancing act with teachers. There is one teacher in each room that speaks a bit of English. Jie-jie has a teacher that speaks very well. We have certainly struggled with conveying that we want the children immersed in the Chinese. Early on, we observed that the teacher was translating Mei-mei’s logic curriculum. We protested. Granted, in Mei-mei’s class (called little-little one) the curriculum is geared toward language learning. Many of the kids are getting their first real exposure to Mandarin and they are learning their shapes, colors, etc. In Jie-jie’s class, on the other hand, they are working on reading and character recognition. That class is geared toward kids with a better vocabulary.

At any rate, the language exposre is an invaluable experience. Anytime she hears a new language (which happens pretty frequently over in the foreigners’ section of campus where we live) Jie-jie picks up on it right away and asks. She will say, “What language is that? It is not Chinese or English. It’s not German or Swedish. It doesn’t sound like Russian or Spanish. Is it from India?” If we know what the language is, we will tell her. Usually we do not and we say that it will be a puzzle for her to solve.

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