Preschoolers learn Mandarin

SHARE

Mandarin lessons are being offered at a Timaru early childhood centre.
Active Learners has added Chinese language lessons to its preschool programme. Classes are optional for any child at the centre.
Centre manager Juanita Cootes said she was unaware of any other early childhood centre in the region offering Mandarin lessons.
“The lessons tie in well with the centre, and children can choose if they want to take part,”she said.
Lessons are held once or twice weekly, in addition to the centre’s other group learning projects. The Mandarin lessons were interest-based, not age-based, she said.
“We know that learning languages is so good for brain development, so we are very excited to be able to offer such a great opportunity to our tamariki.”
Children at the centre also learned Maori and sign language might be added in the future, she said.
Teacher Ava Fong said she moved to New Zealand from China three years ago and had been at Active Learners for about a year.
“We recently came up with the idea of teaching Mandarin and all the families were happy and excited by the idea.”
Mrs Fong said young children were good language pupils. They were “very talented” at learning languages as they could discriminate between the different language sounds.
“Their brains are like sponges,” she said.
She said Mandarin was a language spoken throughout the world and speaking other languages was a good skill for children to have.
Teaching the classes also gave her a sense of belonging, she said.
“This is my culture and my mother language.
“It also gives the children a chance to get to know me better and we have a connection.”