FAQ's for Chinese Programs

When should children start to learn Pinyin?
The pinyin system helps in Putonghua pronunciation and the recognition of Chinese characters in a scientific and efficient way. It’s best to learn at an early stage of known words. Since children are learning the English alphabet at the same time, we suggest learning Pinyin after mastering the English alphabet to avoid confusion.

Which Chinese characters are used?
Most local schools are using traditional Chinese characters; while some international schools are using simplified Chinese characters as mandarin teaching words. There are a total of 600 characters that are totally different between simplified and traditional ones. As simplified Chinese characters are more widely used, no matter in practical use or in international Chinese examinations, we use simplified Chinese characters in class. At the same time, to preserve culture in traditional characters, we encourage students to learn and appreciate the exquisite stroke structure of traditional characters by way of workshops.

Is there a study progress report? How often?
We produce progress reports for each student per semester. There will be a face to face meeting for teachers and parents every academic year to discuss in detail about students’ progress.

Which type of class is best for children?
Before enrollment in programs, we assess all students’ abilities in listening, speaking, reading, writing and their study attitude as well. There are children who enjoy learning in a group to communicate and share. It’s best for them to study together and help each other to cope with group lessons’ progress, which is more standardized. For private lessons, there is more room for teachers to tailor-make lessons and pay more attention to a student’s specific needs or difficulties.

Would students from international schools and local ones be organized in different classes?
Normally, local students have performed better in Chinese due to their greater exposure to the Chinese language. Most international schools recognize this and place considerable emphasis on the importance of Mandarin Chinese courses, which has reduced the variation between the two. The principle adopted in recommending a suitable program, is how students perform during the assessment.

Will there be any homework? Should parents help with it?
Yes, there will be an essay or article and a few reading assignments, e.g. stories or news reading, after each class. All homework will be based on the theme of each class and teachers’ instructions. Parents can encourage children to think creatively and help look up words in dictionaries to avoid frustration.

What should parents assist with at home?
The best time to learn a language is early morning and bedtime, when parents are with their children. We strongly recommend parents let students listen to songs, stories or news in Mandarin when they are getting up and preparing for school. Bedtime listening and story reading also help a lot. Good reading habits are very essential for early stage education, it’s best for family members to read and share books together.

Is it possible to skip a grade if my child does really well in class? What’s the procedure?
It is possible for some outstanding students to skip to a higher program for more suitable development. We would reassess students’ writing and reading abilities by their routine performance and homework. Applications can be handed in by parents or teachers, with monitoring by our head teacher.

FAQ's for English Programs

How do I know which level my child is at?
We assess all students’ abilities in reading, writing, speaking and comprehension before recommending a suitable program. In Hong Kong a student’s English level can vary greatly, depending on which school they attend and their level of exposure to English outside of school.

How can my child improve their writing?
Young Learners – younger students need to learn correct grammar and sentence structures. By doing creative writing, grammar exercises and identifying their areas of need, the teacher will help them learn to recognize their own mistakes and correct them. New vocabulary also needs to be incorporated into their writing. Through practice they will learn to use a greater variety of language and complex sentence structures.

Secondary students – older students need to increase their use of vocabulary and practice a variety of academic writing styles. Having a wide knowledge of differing points of view is also needed in order to write more comprehensive, objective and analytical essays, articles and long pieces of composition. Lessons are aimed at teaching the best structures for different composition pieces, increasing descriptive vocabulary, and expressing different sides of arguments clearly and concisely.

How can my child improve their speaking skills?
In order to improve speaking skills, children need to speak more on new and unfamiliar topics. This way they are forced to practice new vocabulary and learn to articulate their thoughts and meaning more clearly. Through discussion on new and relevant topics, the teacher will correct students’ mistakes by modeling correct grammar and expressions for them.

What will my child study in the lessons?
Content varies depending on the focus of the course, whether it’s creative writing, phonics or general English, but each course has a workbook or textbook that students will follow. For private lessons, there is more room for teachers to tailor-make lessons and spend more time on a private student’s specific needs or difficulties. In group lessons, the structure is more standardized and progresses by building on the language and skills already learned week by week.

What is a typical lesson like?
Although the focus of each class may vary (e.g. speaking focus, writing focus etc.), a variety of methods and activities are used to ensure lessons are interesting. The teacher usually starts off by discussing events of the past week and uses the opportunity to teach. Relevant events e.g. local holidays or any major world events in the students’ lives are discussed. The lesson objective is then introduced and students do workbook/writing exercises, speaking activities and English games to enforce skills or vocabulary.

Is my child ready for the exam?
For all exams, we will assess the child/teenager’s level to see what their current level is. Then we will formulate a plan of study in order to prepare them for the respective exam. For example, if a child’s level is close to the passing level of the exam, then 1-2 hr weekly lessons for 2-3 months may be sufficient. However, if their level is considerably lower than a pass expectation of any exam, then a longer period or more intensive program will be recommended.

What materials/textbooks do you follow?
Each stage uses a different textbook; most of our textbooks are from distinguished UK publishers Cambridge University Press, MacMillan and Pearson Longman. We also supplement courses with our own tailor-made ECJ materials and handouts.

How long does it take to complete a course?
We have long ongoing courses to give students additional reinforcement in their general and overall English skills. Other targeted courses such as exam or interview preparation may be several months in length depending on a student’s needs and abilities. We also have special interest workshops to teach special skills such as debating, creative writing.