EL Education is Eastlake Mandarin Chinese Tutoring Class started by a group of mothers and higher educators. With a sincere love of children, a profound passion for education and a determination for teaching the language and the culture, we started the class first in Eastlake community to help learners explore the beauty of Chinese language and culture.
Instructors are qualified teachers specializing in language learning and teaching with master or doctor’s degree (Classical Chinese Literature). They were higher education teachers from China with experience of teaching Chinese as a heritage language and are currently teaching Mandarin in Halton Catholic School District. Instructors have localized early education teaching experience, TCSL (Teaching Chinese as a second language) or ECE( Early Childhood Education) certificates.
Mission One: Compatibility of cultures: the integration of classical and modern cultures and the oriental and western cultures Mission Two: Solidification of the foundations: We focus on researching and compiling textbooks based on the classical works of literacy. We would learn language, culture and codes of conducts via stories, rhymes and songs. Mission Three: Benefiting the community: We aim to build a Mandarin Chinese learning environment for the benefits of our own community.
We emphasize learning to recognize characters while studying the classical works, learn rules of conducts via stories, explore roots in culture, decipher codes through images and ideas, and integrate culture in actions. We will address teaching methods further in essays.
There are mainly five categories of popular textbooks in North America Chinese teaching: First, Zhongwen by Jinan University; Second, Hanyu by People’s Educational Press; Third, Zhongwen compiled by Ma Lipin of Stanford University; Fourth, Langlang Chinese for oversea learners and the fifth, Chinese textbooks used in China’s primary schools. These textbooks each have their own characteristics.
Our textbooks are compiled by integrating the merits of different series of textbooks highlighting the principles of learning classical and cultural works. Classical and fun texts are selected with great care to allow children to learn literacy while collecting cultural knowledge. Each level contains ten lessons and 100 target characters. Each lesson contains rhymes and stories and have corresponding exercises. Each level contains certain number of poems, idioms and stories. The first four levels consist of singing poems and rhymes while the later levels have more and more reading and classical works.
  1. Learn to recognize characters while reading classics. For example, the nursery rhyme “the little white rabbit” contains 27 characters while the statement from the Analects “Isn’t it pleasant to have friends from afar?” contains only ten characters. Which contains more cultural elements? The latter, for sure. Though it contains less commonly used characters, it has an idiom which is often used. The first chapter of Analects have 20 to 30 idioms embedded within only 500 characters.
  2. Learning characters is fun. Rhymes, poems and games all contribute to learning. With a meagre Chinese language environment in North America, children learn about names of birds, beasts, worms, and fish via rhymes such as “the little rabbit” and “comparing tails”.
  3. The characters are always in phrases and the phrases are embedded in texts. We do not learn characters for their own sake. Instead, we learn to recognize characters while reading for meaning.
  4. Take into consideration children’s cognition psychology. At the beginning, we adopt popular method of associating characters with images and pictures.
  5. Take word formation into consideration. We learn about the structures of characters, radicals and parts, Phonectic-semantic compounds, and the combination of word parts. We introduce these rules and scientific methods of learning step by step.
  6. Learn about the wisdom behind characters. For example the character “Zi” shapes like a nose. Originally, people pointed to their nose when they mention themselves. As a result, the nose- shape “zi” becomes a character referring to oneself.
We encourage reading and emphasize reading as a key of language learning. We are building our own collection of books, classifying reading into different levels. We picked extensive quality readings for our learners. We will guide children’s reading at the beginning stage. We are also working on corresponding exercises and question banks for extracurricular readings. Books can be borrowed and learners carry out reading according to their own plan. Learners move up the level when they have done with the lower level. Teachers will track the reading of learners.
Currently, we have summer courses for the introductory and beginning levels. Intermediate and higher level of courses are to be opened soon. Reading Chinese classics and Culture courses are coming soon. We will also invite scholars to give lectures on Chinese language and culture.
We believe that parents’ support and scaffolding are a necessary drive for children’s learning. According to learners’ age and grade (school age), they will be assigned homework to do. For beginners, parents need to help them recite the texts, write the strokes, recognize the radicals, correct pronunciation, build phrases and sentences. They might also need to check children’s homework and sign their names, review texts and have conversations.
Without a Chinese language environment, writing is the bottle neck of learning. Practicing writing on paper lined with quadrate shape lines is indispensable and motor memory helps character recognition. Beginners should start practicing writing from basic strokes.
Age 4-6 is the most sensitive period to learn a language. Taking Chinese lessons collectively will create a language-using environment. Accumulating bits by bits, children will develop confidence and interests in long-term immersive language learning.
Chinese, as a heritage language for oversea Chinese, is the easiest language to pick up. Not only as a language skill but also as a vehicle of culture, Chinese is a must to learn. Parents should attack importance to Chinese learning yet cannot compel children to learn. EL Education will use rhymes, songs, games and performance to involve learners and help learners fall in love with Chinese learning. Parents can create a Chinese language environment by having dialogues with them in Chinese and reading Chinese picture books together and watching Chinese cartoons.
Chinese character is the oldest written system with a long history of about 3300 years. It carries very rich cultural information and serves as the essence and bond of Chinese civilization. Alphabetic writing is useful yet it is only an assistant. Children with a strong image thinking ability should learn characters first by associating them with graphs. When they have mastered certain number of characters, they can learn to use alphabetic writing.
With the advent of modern technology, the use of computer and smart phone relies on the alphabetic writing of Chinese language. We will integrate learning alphabetic writing into our course and learn it through chanting rhymes and stories. Children will not get confused and the learning of alphabetic writing and English can actually enhance each other. The textbooks we chose are recommended by the late father of alphabetic writing—linguist Zhou Youguang.
We have a we-chat group named Chinese Learning Garden, through which we publish information about our courses. Most importantly, it serves as a communication and learning platform, a Chines learning class with no borders. As said by Confucius, “Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application?” The garden is a place we discuss Chinese learning and share our fun in learning. If three walk together, one should be my teacher. Isn’t it pleasant to have friends from afar? The we-chat group is a flock of talents and experts and by discussion and teaching, we learn from each other and find the delight.
We build our Chinese Language Tutoring Class by involving the whole community. We will invite mothers and fathers and even grandparents to tell stories, demonstrate tea ceremony, guide paintings, tell idiom stories, show calligraphy, and teach singing. Brothers and sisters are also welcome to teach French, play the piano and contribute whatever they are good at. The Mandarin Tutoring class is where children learn in delight. Everyone in Chinese community are a carrier of Chinese culture, a teacher of language and culture. Therefore, the Chinese class is always by children’s side.