How can parents engage their children in the Mandarin language and culture, when English is the main language used in education?
Regardless of whether your child is a toddler or a teen, one enrichment centre has been keeping the love for Mandarin alive for over thirty years as one of the pioneer centres that started Mandarin speech and drama programmes.
This centre chooses to allow your child to learn new Mandarin words and express thoughts and feelings via play and games, speech and drama, and broadcasting, enabling him/her to relate better to the nuances of the language.
The enrichment centre’s innovative methods using fun activities such as role-play, storytelling, and creative writing, encourage children to speak Mandarin more and associate the language with self-expression, joy, and creativity.
Over thirty years of experience cultivating a love for Mandarin in kids
It all started in 1986 when the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Arts & Cultural Troupe (SHHKACT) was founded. A year later, the troupe launched its Children’s Performing Arts class, pioneering the teaching of Speech and Drama in Mandarin to 99 students. Today, SHHKACT keeps the love of Mandarin alive to 2000 students every year.
SHHKACT has expanded to multiple programmes catering to ages from 18 months to 16 years old. Its programmes are not just highly sought after by parents, but also by primary schools which approach the troupe every year to conduct camps and workshops for their students.
Among its popular programmes, its Broadcasting programme is well-known for exposing students to the world of broadcasting.
Whichever SHHKACT programme you enrol your child in, he/she will enjoy speaking in Chinese via storytelling, expressions and emotions.
What programmes does SHHKACT have for my child?
TODDLERS: Parents who want to introduce their toddlers (from 18 months onwards) can enrol them in Sprinkle Tots, where students learn via nursery rhymes, role play, craftwork and games, and parent and child bonding sessions. The focus is to develop your child’s language, motor skills, creativity, life skills and socio-emotional strengths.
PRESCHOOL: Your preschooler (3 to 6 years old) can progress to various programmes such as Twinkle Tots – for thematic activities and interactive games, Kiddy Art – a program to strengthen motor skills, Speech and Drama from K1 onwards, and Hanyu Pinyin – to develop pronunciation and phonics in K2 to prepare for Primary School.
PRIMARY SCHOOL: Students of Primary School age have a wider range of programmes besides Speech and Drama.
SHHKACT runs a Calligraphy and Chinese painting programme where students learn Mandarin words and culture via using a calligraphy brush to write characters, and reciting poems and rhymes while learning the stories behind these. Kids from Primary 2 onwards can sign up for creative writing classes develop vocabulary and writing techniques as well.
SECONDARY SCHOOL: When your child goes to a secondary school, his/her skills in comprehension and writing are tested further. Hence, SHHKACT has added a Comprehension and Writing programme to expand students’ vocabulary, enabling them to express their thoughts in a succinct and vivid manner while creating interesting stories to move the reader.
What other unique activities does SHHKACT run for its students?
The Broadcasting programme mentioned earlier, which starts from Primary 3 onwards, is so popular that students need to audition to be selected.
Although Covid-19 has led to a downsizing of classes, SHHKACT has also run virtual lessons and found ways to keep in touch online. For example, the troupe created a short series of storytelling programme titled “Brother Shell Chick” that already has eight episodes. Each episode consists of a short story to help children to listen more to Mandarin and engage them via questions and activities.
Besides SHHKACT’s virtual lessons and online activities, these enrichment programmes are available at SHHKACT’s centres at 5 Sennett Road, and 397 Lorong 2 Toa Payoh.
To keep your child’s love for Mandarin alive with enrichment classes run by the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Arts & Cultural Troupe, visit:
All photos without masks were taken before the Covid-19 pandemic.
This post is brought to you by Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Arts & Cultural Troupe.
By Julia Chan.
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