Another update from Singapore
October 15, 2013
This is from Judy Shei, whose son is in a Mandarin track school in Singapore and finished second grade in San Francisco’s Starr King Elementary Mandarin immersion program.
Just wanted to let you know that we just started tutoring with our son here in Singapore as he’s been struggling a bit in school and I’m afraid just one or two hours a day wasn’t enough to keep up and improve his speaking skills.
Good news on the fronts… I found out from the tutor that he is in a “higher Chinese” class which progressed more quickly and is more difficult than “normal Chinese.” From a reading and writing perspective he is constantly telling me that he “hasn’t learned” that character before. But with the higher expectations, I’ve noticed his reading has improved by leaps and bounds! So, although the level of reading and writing has been more difficult than what he encountered in 2nd grade at Starr King, he has a strong enough base from the Mandarin program there that making leap hasn’t been insurmountable.
Also the tutor told me he was really impressed with our son’s listening and speaking ability. Although he is not on par with a “rice” family (a family who speaks Mandarin at home) Emmett is far ahead of the kids in a typical “potato” family (a family who speaks English at home.)
With the tutor speaking at normal speed, our son understands about 70-80% and he has no problem expressing basic ideas and communicating, although he does lack vocabulary. This is entirely due to Starr King, as you know although I occasional speak to my kids in mandarin (maybe 10% of the time) they ALWAYS answer in English.
Now my worry is that our second child, who starts school next year. Maybe Singapore might not be up to the standards of the San Francisco Unified School District’s Mandarin Immersion program!!!