Bilingualism is mandatory in Singapore, for the majority of students who go through the government system of schools. However, as most parents know far too well, it is by no means, an easy feat.
Diana Ser shows mummies in Singapore how she teaches her daughter Jaymee how to enjoy learning mandarin
Diana Ser, a celebrity multi-hyphenate mother of 3, knows this all too well. To help children not just learn mandarin, but love learning mandarin, she has launched a new mandarin learning portal on her website.
Crazy About Chinese is an online edutainment series targeted at parents and caregivers of kids between two and six years old. Each Crazy About Chinese webisode lasts two to three minutes, and will be uploaded weekly on Diana’s website. nIt follows Diana and her four-year-old daughter, Jaymee Lye, the youngest of her three children, on their journey to incorporate Mandarin learning in their daily activities and real-life situations. In this series, experts and educators are also invited to provide tips and advice; along with other parents who will also share their experiences.
theAsianparent was privileged to be able to speak more with this talented mother about her self-funded program.
Have you faced any challenges teaching your children both languages? If so, what are they?
Using everyday objects to teach mandarin
Definitely. That’s why I started ‘Crazy About Chinese’, because it was driving me and my kids nuts! I thought I did a lot for my two older kids when they were younger to lay the foundation for Chinese learning by sending them to Chinese enrichment classes, but it turned out that this wasn’t nearly enough. The main challenge is the fact that being from an English speaking family, they do not get enough opportunities to use Mandarin. They’ve gotten fairly decent grades in school so far, but they still didn’t like Chinese. Jaymee, my third, gave me one more chance to try and do things differently.
Why do you think being bilingual is so important?
Being bilingual, or even multilingual, makes a person more interesting, doesn’t it? In Singapore, we are fortunate to be able to learn two languages in our education system so we should capitalize on that. I believe that being proficient in Mandarin will remove many cultural barriers, which in turn presents opportunities to know more people and gain more knowledge. Moreover, it’s also important for us to be in touch with our roots.
Give us a bit of a sneak peek into your program – what sort of stuff will be featured there?
Day-to-day content and lessons
The content is actually very day-to-day! One of my webisodes show how you can weave some Mandarin into a routine activity like going for a haircut. Or even a trip to the doctor’s recently, when Jaymee caught the Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD) over the festive holidays. The idea is to turn everyday activities into opportunities for learning Mandarin.
‘Crazy About Chinese’ also features how you can incorporate Mandarin into simple games because kids love to play. So I sneak in some Chinese during game time, to create positive associations.
Each webisode will be only 2-3 minutes, how do you make your program effective?
Time is of the essence for every mother and caregiver, and that is why I keep my webisodes bite-sized and easy to digest. As a lot of viewing is done on mobile devices, the webisodes are fully subtitled.
Recently, I received requests to add hanyu pinyin to the ‘key words’ (learning aids) in my program, and so I did. I’ve also added voice overs for those key words, so that it’s easier for parents and caregivers who are less familiar with Mandarin.
I’m always open to story ideas and ways to make my program more effective! Parents are welcome to click on the Contact tab on my website or go to the Crazy About Chinese Facebook page to send me feedback.
What is the main takeaway you want your audience to have?
Adults can take baby steps to help our kids on their bilingual journey. Birth to 6 years old is a crucial period for language learning, and the kids cannot do this on their own. The problem is, most of the time, adults doubt our own abilities! Parents and caregivers can take the bull by the horns, and take charge – do everything within our means to create opportunities for our kids. Crazy About Chinese is a stop for ideas, inspiration and cheering one another on.
In fact, in 2016, I will be organzing workshops where fans, friends and followers can come together and exchange ideas.
More information soon!
We are certainly looking forward to seeing more from this talented mother. Both parents and kids need all the help they can get to learn a second language in our competitive academic environment!