Forming a strong foundation in Chinese, the fun way
Online platform LingoAce harnesses edutech and gamification to help young learners learn to love the language.
Children’s fluency in Mandarin – or the lack of it – has recently been in the spotlight, with the Ministry of Education (MOE) launching the Mother Tongue Support Programme for Primary Three students this year and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighting in 2019 that Singaporeans were losing their bilingual edge.
Ms Peggy Lim, academic director of online language platform LingoAce and a former educator with 15 years of experience teaching in schools, said that she has observed some common challenges that students face in learning Mandarin, such as a lack of interest in the language due to its perceived difficulty and not having a conducive, immersive learning environment.
“As Mandarin is a tonal language with thousands of special characters to remember, it is difficult for learners to learn in a traditional, passive learning environment,” she said. “Moreover, the new generation of learners are digital natives who process information differently. Hence, it is important for us to adapt to the way these learners think and learn by leveraging multimedia, animation and gamification technology to help children develop a self-motivated interest in learning Chinese.”
To stir students’ interest in Mandarin, LingoAce taps on edutech and gamification, combining them with real-time guidance from qualified, native-speaking teachers.
GAMING THEIR WAY TO BETTER GRADES
According to LingoAce’s regional general manager Goh Aik Chuan, “learners learn best when they are also having fun”.
“That is the core belief of the gamified learning theory,” he said. “Like how video games intrigue children, young learners show similar levels of engagement when the game-based elements are incorporated into learning materials. Our lessons are delivered with gamification strategically leveraged to reinforce learning, so Chinese lessons are no longer dry and focused on pure rote learning.”
Rather than view studying Mandarin as a source of stress, children are able to enjoy learning and soon come to appreciate the language as a means to accessing exciting stories and cultural content.
Said Mr Goh: “We deliver Chinese through storytelling, culture and everyday life. This attracts learners by delivering the language through content engagement, not language engagement.”
Even memory work can be made fun. “For older children, we have designed their lessons to test and reinforce their comprehension skills and answering techniques, such as applying gamification to aid in the retention of information,” he added.
TAILORED LEARNING TO HELP STUDENTS EXCEL
Having an interactive, immersive environment is key to excelling in a language. Technology can be another key to unlocking that rich learning experience and shaping it to suit the individual needs of each student, ensuring they are not academically overwhelmed or under-stimulated.
At LingoAce, students receive a personalised learning plan and a suggested programme once their proficiency and learning goals have been assessed by a LingoAce course consultant. The platform’s specialists continually update the curriculum based on MOE’s syllabus, and design different experiences to meet the specific needs of learners with different proficiency levels.
Said Ms Lim: “More content and more challenging questions will not necessarily help learners to perform better. Our curriculum is planned with progression and focused on teaching learners language skills in chunks, so that the learning of composition, comprehension and oral skills becomes more digestible for them.”
According to Mr Goh, students further benefit from a more intuitive learning experience, thanks to LingoAce’s use of artificial intelligence to refine its curriculum and machine-enabled patterns that hone language accuracy.
Parents also gain a better understanding of their child’s learning needs as they have access to a parents-only app that streams classes live and offers post-lesson playback and progress reports.
Said Mr Goh: “It used to be that parents could only get feedback on their child’s progress through half-yearly parent-teacher meetings, physical report cards and exam results. Today, a parent can access class recordings, digital unit reports and even observe the lesson live.”
LEARNING TO LOVE THE LANGUAGE
The most effective way to learn Mandarin is not through memorising the meaning of words or doing an endless series of revision papers. According to Mr Goh, cultivating a genuine, personal interest in Chinese culture and content is the most powerful motivation for children to excel in the language.
He said: “I hope our students at LingoAce will develop a love for Chinese, and an appreciation for the new worlds that are opened when one learns a new language.”
Help your child build a strong foundation in Mandarin by signing up for a free trial class at lingoace.com.