The Hope of Chinese Amateur Learning In Northern America

Norman Ho

All students of Focused Literacy Experimental (our 1st SunRise) class had taken the Standard Chinese HSK Level 4 Test at the end of last Summer Session, which is a standardized Chinese proficiency test for school enrollment and corporate international hiring in China. The SAT and AP Chinese tests in USA are well covered by her content. Actually, this level of the test acted like ¡°warm-up match¡± toward our students. They were confident, relaxed and answered all questions in 20-minutes in advance, and, all got high scores. The class average score is 276 of 300 points, of which an average of 95 points in Listening, an average of 91 points in Reading, and an average of 90 points in Writing section. That is like ¡°mission impossible¡± for all other weekend Chinese schools in Northern America area., but we did it!

Xilin UIC Chinese schools began to study modern focused literacy pedagogy and established the experimental class six years ago. Comparing other kids learning Chinese language in their spare time for at least 10 or more years and eventually given up w/o success, this achievement indeed let us all interested in, concerned, eager to carry forward, heritage Chinese culture of people from all walks of life to see the light. Why do I say this? The reason is that the amateur Chinese education of our children will encounter a common problem that ultimately leads them go no where. Originally, children are learning Chinese extremely fine for their first five or six years of part-time study. But, at middle school age, kids quickly appear to be sick of Chinese learning. They have forgotten more than what they are learning in faster pace. Most of them choose give-up in busy high school life that lead them forget almost all they have learned for these long years. When they enter colleges and encounter the challenges of their social positioning in the university campus, they start aware that they have to know Chinese and spend money to pay tuition to learn Chinese lessons again. What they have learned for 10 or more years in childhood won¡¯t help much since they have already forgotten at that time. This phenomenon is not subjective the will of the parents who led for most of us has a traditional expectations and has a huge deviation course. Learning Chinese language has absolute benefits toward the development of children brains growing, but look at the situation of children in daily school learning, and then take a look at the difficult situation of the children learning Chinese in their spare time, most parents will naturally ask: "Is the Chinese really needed that hard to learn?¡±

Contrast we have always considered correct way - listening, speaking, reading and writing, and North America education philosophy, the biggest difference is that the North American educational philosophy emphasized on "learning". The teaching is in the manner and form in order to let kids learn relevant knowledge more efficiently and how to encourage children personalities and develop their creativities. While listening, speaking, reading and writing, the learning of Chinese philosophy is based on the adult's thinking and all they can remember up learning methods, is ignoring the young children particularity of physiological and psychological growth, making the teaching content and the burden is too heavy. Chinese teaching actually evolved into pure "teaching" destructive enthusiasm, but not in a timely manner to challenge the children, as a result of neglect and delay the learning of modern Chinese 2500 common vocabulary.
With children in daily learning methods accepted by the USA schools, the Chinese teaching runs counter to the diametrically opposite that repressed culture and play the individuality and creativity of children. The solution to such fundamental problem is needed us to understand the growth of the children and shift the focus naturally with the growth of the children. For example, at children twelve or thirteen age while they are changing to be the knowledge-based reading, you will not be able to be treated like seven or eight years old children, only give them to still read the very childish books. Unfortunately, due to our current Chinese teaching philosophy, most of them can only read such childish books after their hard learning in six years, that level is only to learn less than 1000 common vocabulary and far less than so called "literacy" that will be at level of 1800 characters commonly used in China. Taking into account the language environment in North America and only one 2-hour of class to learn in seven days a week, children are so easily forgotten what they learned in class. By this level, what they can read are just about those too childish innocent books. If you recall the time when you were in teenage, you can understand why our children at this age start to withdraw from learning Chinese. The sense of accomplishment accumulated years of hard learning will be destroyed totally by insufficient of vocabulary learning. The time, the energy and the money parents have put in their Chinese learning for past 10 or more years are totally wasted.

Xilin UIC Chinese school has done a lot of research works in modern focused literacy teaching philosophy and methods for six years by now that has been the #1 in Northern America. We have broken the vicious circle of confusion for many, many years in our teaching practice. The school's overall level of the teaching of Chinese language to new heights. With our continuous efforts, easy to learn Chinese and her culture in North America will not be far. We believe by our effort, Xilin UIC Chinese School will continue keep the #1 position in Chinese Amateur Learning field of North American!

Note: Students in China will spend full time for 6 years at elementary schools to learn 2500 basic, most frequent used characters(common vocabulary). By learning these 2500 common vocabulary, students can understand 98.8% of any articles in modern Chinese language. Students in USA are learning Chinese in part-time as 2nd language and the teaching method has to be modified to fit kids¡¯growth. From our observations for past 23 years, our kids have this ¡°cannot accomplish learning Chinese¡± problem all the times for all weekend Chinese schools.