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Games to teach Mandarin to be rolled out to pre-schools

SINGAPORE — During play time, pre-school children at My First Skool in Yung An Road can be heard conversing in Mandarin with their partners while they toss dice and collect cards over board games.

SINGAPORE — During play time, pre-school children at My First Skool in Yung An Road can be heard conversing in Mandarin with their partners while they toss dice and collect cards over board games.

Designed to encourage children to speak Mandarin, the set of “Fun Games for Learning Mandarin” was launched at the Third International Conference on Teaching and Learning of Chinese as a Second Language this morning (Sept 12), an event aimed at promoting research and application of second language teaching.

Sponsored by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism, the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language (SCCL) and NTUC’s SEED Institute — which trains early childhood educators here — jointly developed the set of 10 different card and board games as teaching aids.

The games vary in content and difficulty levels, from simpler games like matching tools to the respective occupations, to identifying and forming sentences about various facilities in the neighbourhood.

“We found that children’s learning must be (done) in a fun way,” said Dr Connie Lum, the Dean of Pre-school and Adjunct Lecturer with the SCCL, who is also one of the designers of the games.

The pilot project started in January, with about 100 pre-school children from My First Skool at Yung An Road. Next week, over 3000 sets of these games will be distributed to kindergartens and childcare centres island-wide.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference, guest-of-honour Mrs Josephine Teo, the Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport, said experts have found that languages should be taught as early as possible. She added that pre-school teachers can consider teaching Mandarin through games to better engage younger children in learning the language.

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