Building the foundation of Mandarin from a young age has become increasingly important given how the language has become international. As Minister Ong Ye Kung said: “Learning languages is equivalent to learning about cultures, values and the philosophy of life.” ELFA Chinese Preschool believes in instilling a love for the Chinese Language in our children in a globalised world. This is done through a culturally-rich learning environment and the unique story-based teaching approach in our children’s early years.

We develop our children holistically through early immersion in the Chinese Language and culture. As a testament to the success of this approach, ELFA graduating students whom took part in the Youth Chinese Test (YCT), saw very encouraging results. YCT, a part of Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK), is the most authoritative Chinese Language proficiency assessment specifically designed for young learners of the Chinese Language. The assessment consists of three components – writing, recognition of Chinese characters and listening comprehension.

ELFA’s education produces children who are well-rounded and proficient in writing, reading and understanding Mandarin

In 2021’s YCT, 20 children from ELFA Chinese Preschool had the opportunity to participate and achieved a 100% passing rate. ELFA children have been taking on the challenge of the YCT since 2014, attaining commendable results consistently.

In preparation for the YCT test, teachers at ELFA Chinese Preschools do different activities with the children to enhance their use of the Chinese Language. Interactive activities such as storytelling, reading, show and tell help teachers to work on the children’s weaknesses in their Chinese Language.

Four ways ELFA builds our children’s Mandarin proficiency

#1: Story-based Approach

Through storytelling, teachers introduce traditions and new concepts to ELFA children.

ELFA’s native Chinese teachers use stories and folktales in our curriculum to bring together language, culture and values. Children are exposed to a wonder-filled universe through the story-based approach, where concepts are simplified and relatable to children. Children are also exposed to Chinese traditional moral values and different celebrations in these stories. We offer children a rich bilingual environment to be confident communicators in both Mandarin and English through this approach.

#2: Making the Language Fun

At ELFA, Chinese teachers use teaching aids to make language learning an enjoyable experience. Such teaching aids include hand puppets and games such as matching words with pictures cards.

ELFA helps children appreciate the Language better by making learning more engaging and meaningful through play

ELFA helps children appreciate the Language better by making learning more engaging and meaningful through play

These teaching aids allow lessons to be more interactive and engaging, aiding with information retention in our children. Their understanding is deepened through associating the learning with concepts and words. The learning is embedded in their memory with consistent practice, allowing our ELFA children to remember the characters.

#3: Chinese-inspired Art Programme

Our Chinese-inspired Art programme has been designed and built into our curriculum to develop children’s positive and creative learning dispositions. This provides ELFA children with exposure to the beauty of Chinese culture. It inculcates composure and refines their sense of aesthetics and appreciation for art through the blended eastern and western art teaching methods.

Establishing our children’s interest in Chinese-inspired art appreciation helps them build a growing liking and solid foundation in the culture and its language naturally.

#4: Chinese Speech and Drama

At ELFA, we believe strongly in the benefits of exposing children to mandarin through Chinese Speech and Drama (CSD). This is why, we have seamlessly woven this programme as part of our core curriculum. It introduces children to public speaking and provides a confidence boost in their ability to use the language. The lessons also act as a cultural education. “When you use a language, you interact with the culture.” adds Emily Chew, Principal at ELFA Chinese Preschool @ Pandan Valley. She adds that when children learn a new language, not only do they benefit academically, they also expand in their creative thinking and cultural appreciation through programmes like CSD. Beyond that, CSD also refines children’s articulation and coordination, enhances their reading skills and teamwork as they put their act together and verbalise their scripts.

At Graduation, children get to showcase what they’ve during Chinese Speech and Drama lessons confidently.

Children are like sponges with the innate ability to learn in their early years. Their brain development and learning are the most effective within the first five years of life. Therefore, they absorb new information readily, emulating the values and culture. ELFA Chinese Preschool’s dedicated team of educators plays a vital role in supporting our children’s learning and a strong command of Mandarin. They create a bilingual print-rich environment to immerse the attitude of learning and assimilating knowledge in our children. The teachers’ dedication will help children build a lifelong passion and better language competency to prepare them for primary school.