Learning Chinese – From Scratch (Almost!)

So I was blogging a month back about Jayvon’s heavily Aussie-accented Chinese, and even recorded an amusing video of him using English phonics to pronounce Chinese hanyu pinyin words.

Barely a week into Primary One, he came back with two sheets of paper. English Spelling (5 words a week). And THIS.

Chinese diction (or fondly known as 听写).

My Chinese is *cough cough cough* pass-able at best. I had the advantage of being REALLY good at my hanyu pinyin and that probably saved me (cos I could at least use the Chinese dictionary well!) on many occasions in school. But I remember having to first learn the Chinese strokes / words before we went on to hanyu pinyin in probably Primary 3 or 4.

Well, the entire Chinese syllabus has been overhauled. Made easier, they say. To help the kids, they say. Well, maybe not in as many words, but the Ministry does recognise that most kids today struggle with Chinese.

Let me just state then. This is just based on my two weeks experience in the Singapore school system, how are our kids supposed to cope? What SHOULD the kindergartens be teaching the kids? Is Chinese extra lessons the only way to go?

We are talking about three different styles of Chinese being tested in a single week. In the third week of school, I might add. The strokes, hanyu pinyin, and that singular Chinese character thrown in for good measure.

Needless to say, I had A LOT of work to do with my poor unChinese boy.

Strokes was fine. He couldn’t really remember what they were called, but it was different from the rest. But the rest. EGAD. “wū” and 五 are the same word in Chinese, but just a different tone. Coupled with “wū” and “ü” – it was enough to kill both Jay and me as he struggled to get the pronunciation down pat. It all basically melded into a “ooouuuoooii” sound hahaha! Which I would be rolling on the floor laughing… if it weren’t for the fact it was so frustrating (for us both)!

Bring back the proper Chinese words.

Or at least don’t give the kids such a hard time, and such a hard first taste at Chinese Diction.

And next week’s words? Well, there’s now BOTH hanyu pinyin and the Chinese word itself.


It’s been some time since my last Talkative Thursday link-up (ooops!) but hey, I’m back and let’s do this! :)

SANses.com's Talkative Thursdays

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