Mandarin: Preschool to Grade 8
The minds of preschool students are flexible and wired to acquire language skills easily, this is why we introduce Mandarin so early. We take a fun, interactive approach to teaching the language, with lots of opportunity for practice through repetition, conversation, songs and drama. The children respond positively to the language, engaged by its musical sounds, and the opportunity to teach their parents new words.
As they learn to read Pinyin — the phonetic method of transcribing Mandarin characters which literally translated means to “spell sounds” — they develop the tonal sounds that are part of the Mandarin language and which are so different form the phonetic sounds of english and french. They soon expand their vocabulary and by Grades 3 and 4 they are ready to learn to read and write the traditional characters. By Grade 8 they are comfortable in the knowledge that when opportunity knocks, they will be ready to answer in Mandarin or to take on yet another in the tonal language knowing they have the foundation ready.
Why learn Mandarin?
Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world. We believe that a foundation in the language will position Fern Hill students for future business success. Even if they do not continue with it in high school, they have a foundation in a language that is much more difficult to learn as an adult. In the future, their ability to welcome clients and converse with a Mandarin speaking business partner may positively influence an outcome, or leapfrog them over associates on their way up the corporate ladder.
Unlike English and French, Mandarin relies on tones rather than sounds
Research shows that phonetic languages like English and French activate only the left side of the brain. Mandarin’s tones simultaneously activate both sides of the brain. Read more here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3025796.stm.
At Fern Hill, we believe that the more areas of the brain we stimulate, the better we stimulate the child. New research reveals that by refining the tonal elements needed for effective communication in Mandarin, students gain improvement in their pitch in various areas of music. We see this as a cross-curricular advantage that yields benefits in Fern Hill’s vocal and band programs.
Read more here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041114235846.htm.