Bridging the GAP: Reinforcing the learning of Chinese



Assessment books which we use
Assessment books which we use

Chinese Language is not an easy subject for me to teach. Being an English teacher I’m more versed in teaching English and other subjects which use English as the mode of instruction.

It has been an ongoing challenge  for me as I try to recall what I was taught during Chinese lessons in school when I was still a student.  Chinese has never been a strong subject of mine. I had Chinese tuition as a child as my parents do not speak Mandarin. Both of them learned Malay in school and were not able to guide me in the language therefore the need for additional help from a tutor.

Monkey boy and his siblings have it easier as compared to me. Both his dad and me are able to speak and write Mandarin so we are able to guide him along the way if needed. R’s parents are also retired  Chinese  school teachers so they too are able to teach him.

Nowadays there are  many more resources both online and in print which can aid a child in learning Chinese. I have been using both online and print material in coaching Monkey boy with his Chinese.

In the previous post on -Identifying the GAP in Chinese I mentioned that  I need to beef up his vocabulary bank together with his  written ability to express himself.

The only way that Monkey boy will be able to improve in his grades is through  constant practice in  both oral and written Chinese.

Speaking and listening to Mandarin during Chinese lessons in school is insufficient exposure to the language.   One needs constant practice to be able to both speak and write fluently in the language.

Being a mainly English speaking household, I  try to give the kids more opportunity to speak and listen to  Chinese where possible. I  borrow Chinese storybooks from the library which I read with them regularly  and try speaking to them in Mandarin as often as possible.

Besides interacting with them in Mandarin I do set up a schedule for Monkey boy so that he is able to get adequate practice in the areas which he is weak in.  I don’t believe in cramming before a test or an examination.

I feel that it is much better if the child gets constant and regular practice in a subject so that he will be able to cope with any test or exam as he does ongoing revision.

The child will not be as stressed as he is confident that he has covered all the material that would be tested has been revised.

I find that less stressful for the parent as there is no need to take note of all the dates for the various tests/ mock tests which are administered.  I personally only take note of the dates for  SA1 and SA2 as Monkey boy’s school doesn’t have CA exams.

Monkey boy's revision schedule
Monkey boy’s revision schedule

This is the revision schedule for Chinese which Monkey boy and I have set . We agreed on what we will be working on on a weekly, bi-monthly and monthly basis besides the regular homework that is given by his school teacher.

Difference in the length of the composition written from P4 to P5
Difference in the length of the composition written from P4 to P5

As Monkey boy is doing  HCL he has to be able to write a composition of 200 words or more fluently.  To  build up his ability in composition writing I have used the composition writing assessment book shown in the picture at the top of this posts.


Composition Exercise in the assessment book
Composition Exercise in the assessment book

As you can see from the photo of a picture composition above,  in each exercise,  focus is given on individual pictures. There is a lot of helping words given and even a sample writing paragraph given below on how to describe the picture shown above.

I feel that it is a good way of teaching Monkey boy through the examples shown the possible vocabulary that can be used to describe the different picture.

The 5 W and 1 H ( Who, What , Where, When, Why and How) are clearly shown together with how the picture should be analysed. It makes the child think of what can be said or describe upon seeing the picture It  makes sure that every angle of the story is covered in detail.

There are also suggested introduction and conclusion for the given  picture composition so that the child gets a clear picture of what is expected of him when faced with that particular topic.

In order to score for Chinese composition the essay that is written has to be very descriptive and also fluent in expression.   Knowing to use the right words in the right context would certainly help Monkey boy score well in this area.

Vocabulary list within the book
Vocabulary list within the book

This particular book has a sample composition and a vocabulary list at the end of exercise for reference.  These come in handy when Monkey boy is looking for inspiration on what to write in his own essay based on the given pictures.

I will be giving  practice papers and sample exam papers to complete  before his  coming SA exams. This would give him a clearer understanding of which areas he is weak in and also sufficient practice before the school exams.

How do you reinforce the learning of

Chinese with your kids?



 Bridging the GAP

Bridging the GAP

Posts in this Series

1) Bridging the Gap- An Introduction

2) Bridging the Gap-  Identifying the Gap in Chinese Language ( P4 to P5 )

3) Bridging the Gap- Reinforcing the Learning of Chinese


Writer’s Workshop: Surely a Challenge- That’s LIFE!!

Poster on Life
Poster on Life

Life is never a bed of roses. There are ups and down and different seasons which one goes through.  You never know what is coming at you when you go around a bend.

Moments of  triumphant and happiness or agony and despair.  One may experience these feelings on multiple occasions, but, alas for the individual  they  last a mere few minutes or days before they are committed into memory.  Etched into our personal  history to be  recalled at a later date.

Every time when you feel that you manage to get on top of the game life throws you another curve ball and it knocks the stability off the platform that you are on.

The schedule/plan that you have painstakingly  put together is no longer feasible and once again you see yourself racing against the clock to  realign everything so that you can have some sense of normalcy.

You hate the uncertainty that is brought about with the change and are at crossroads as how to proceed.

It can be exasperating at times  when everything seems to be falling apart.  You feel that you are grasping for breathe clinging to a sinking ship  with no lifebuoy in sight.

It is during moments like this that one wishes for a miracle to appear.  A moment of clarity or a mechanic who can fix the problem that you have at hand.

Resolutions for 2015
Resolutions for 2015


2015 has started with many challenges for me.

Solo parenting

bridging the gap for the kids in their education

– weight loss and healthy cooking

– Seeking a closer walk with GOD

– Strengthening my marriage in a long distance relationship.

I can say it hasn’t been easy facing up to these challenges of mine. The burden has overbearing at times and I have had my weak moments where I really wanted to give up.  I have been slicing it really thin with all my current resources.

Every ounce of energy seem to have been drained out of my body  and with no refill in sight. All the activities that I have lined up to complete on a daily basis has really sapped the life out of me  on several occasions.

It’s more of a mental then physical exhaustion that I face on a daily basis coping with the hectic schedule  which involve taking care of the house and  360%  customized education for the kids.

Being judge and referee,  multi-tasking while watching the clock to ensure that everyone gets thing done on time.  There is only one of me and I have to be split into four at times to be able to give adequate attention to everyone.

Even though I’m far from completing the challenges that have been given to me I’m certainly not going to throw in the towel.   I believe that all the hard work will certainly pay off. I just have continue to be disciplined and put my best foot forward.

I believe in never giving up even though the odds maybe stacked against me at the moment.  Challenges are to be faced head on and that’s the way I’m charging.

How do you deal with challenges?



Jenny Matlock

Mama’s Losin’ It