Mandarin Stars Newsletter Term 1, 2015

Nǐ hǎo!

Welcome back to a fun-filled year of learning at Mandarin Stars!

Hope everyone has enjoyed the summer holidays – I know I have!

My boys in front of the Eiffel Tower! It was absolutely freezing – wǒ men hěn lěng!

We’ve prepared some exciting new topics for Term 1. In the Bubs and Tots classes, the children will be learning about Fruits and Vegetables through sensory exploration and fun games. In no time the children will be pointing at a Red Delicious and saying ‘píng guǒ’ instead of apple. The Playgroup children will be having oodles of fun learning about topics such as My Pet, Fruit, Vegetables and Shapes, all whilst playing language games and making topic-related crafts. Our SuperSTARS will delve into the depths of Underwater World followed by great fun At the Beach. A special highlight of this term would be in Week 3, whereby we spend our time learning about the Chinese New Year, its customs and traditions – which luckily enough happens to fall within Term 1 this year. Yay!

As mentioned previously, we will be entering the Year of the Goat this zodiac year, and it’s super exciting. This year’s Chinese New Year will be falling on Thursday the 19th of February, according to the Lunar calendar.  As arguably the most important traditional holiday of the year, it is celebrated by the Chinese far and wide, the festivities so lively they attract locals and tourists alike. In China, the New Year is colloquially known nowadays as Chūn Jié (Spring Festival). The festival being the transition between winter and spring connoted the start of a new year, thus before entering into the New Year, the Chinese will organise a thorough cleanse of the house in hopes of ridding the past year’s misfortunes to make way for good luck in the coming year.

Yáng NiánYear of the Goat

Chinese families usually gather annually the night before the New Year to have a reunion dinner – often the only time some get to return home to their loved ones, which has directly resulted in the modern phenomenon known as Chūn Yùn (Spring Festival travel rush), often hailed as the largest annual human migration in the world. Other Chinese New Year customs include decorating the house with symmetrically cut paper chuāng huā (Window Flowers), deemed an ancient yet popular form of folk art. The intricate designs often accompany spring couplets known as chūn lián on walls, windows and doors. The chuāng huā and chūn lián are customarily a vibrant red, the colour corresponding with fire synonymous with auspicious fortune and joy. One of my absolute favourite Spring Festival pastimes is the giving of hóng bāo (Red Envelopes) from the adults to the children – the hóng bāo usually contains a monetary gift of even digits and is meant to be given until one is married! Another colloquial name for hóng bāo would be yā suì qián, whereby there’s a clever homophone as the character sui can mean both ‘old age’ and ‘evil spirits’, and thus the money is meant to ‘ward of old age and evil spirits’.

The intricate chuāng huā!

Auspicious couplets on the chūn lián and the all-important character ‘fú’ () meaning fortune or good luck!

Giving and receiving hóng bāo!

There are 12 Chinese Zodiac Animals on a rotating cycle of 12 years, and this year will be the Year of the Goat. The animals are in a fixed order adhering to the Chinese Theory of Yin and Yang and their perceived attributes. Whether an animal is considered yīn or yáng is defined based on whether the numbers of their claws, toes or hooves are odd or even. The only instance would be the Rat, a rarity as it has four toes on its forelegs and five on its hind. The unique combination of both yīn and yáng that it possesses determines its rank as first of the 12 zodiac animals. The Goat, a yáng animal (incidentally, the pinyin for goat is also yáng, both with the same accent – the second tone. The goat itself is 羊, whereas the yáng in terms of yīn & yáng is 阳), the animal symbolising unity, with the saying ‘unity without forging ahead leads to stagnation’. If you were born in the years 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003 and so on, you would be classified as a ‘Goat’. A Chinese Zodiac birth sign year is called a běn mìng nián (‘origin life year’) and it is deemed to be inauspicious as ancient superstition states that one would offend Tài Suì (God of Age) and thus have bad luck, which is why elderly relatives will usually give the person something red to wear to avoid ill-fortune.

The 12 famous Zodiac Animals! Which one are you?

Resources on raising children to be bilingual
As the world becomes increasingly globalised, many parents around the world have created websites with a focus on raising bilingual families. Some are inevitably better than others, but are nonetheless quite fascinating to browse through a family’s bilingual troubles and triumphs. My good friend Susanne who is a Consultant in Bilingualism at Bilingual Options mentioned to me a rather brilliant website, aptly named Bilingual Avenues, telling me that she herself was able to support the information dispersed. It may prove worthwhile for you to peruse through the site: http://www.bilingualavenue.com/podcasts/

There was an article on the Science Daily on October the 13th, 2011, stating that St. Michael’s Hospital’s researchers have discovered that those who speak more than one language have twice as much brain damage in comparison to their unilingual counterparts before they exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.  Their research proved to be the first physical evidence that bilingualism delays the onset of the disease.

Here are some snapshots of what the students have been getting up to in the Hills District from Cherie lǎo shī and Christine lǎo shī!

Angel lǎo shī teaching the students how to tie their own shoelace during our practical life session (which is the extension of the 30min class for our playgroup). They taught the children left and right in Mandarin, and of course, you can’t forget the words for ‘shoe’, ‘shoe lace’ and colours!

SuperSTARS Practical Life Session – this term they are starting Chinese calligraphy!

Summer lǎo shī and Christine lǎo shī teaching students the correct way to hold a calligraphy brush! The children were very enthusiastic.

We’ve some rather exciting news! We’ve a new sister school that’s opened up in Dōng Guǎn, China at Yínxīng Kindergarten and Primary School. It was a very special day and I was showered with some spectacular performances from the school, including Gōng Fu, performances of Chinese dance and song as well as calligraphy! It was truly fantastic to be there and a big xiè xie to Mr. Li and his school for welcoming me!

The children giving the Aussie guests a ceremonious welcome!

The little Gōng Fu artists in yellow – and such impressively straight lines!

The kindergarteners going on about their daily exercises.

Another delightful announcement is that Mandarin Stars is now in Europe!

Mandarin Stars is proud to be offering Mandarin Stars classes through our new licensees in the Netherlands! The new licensees are Terry Chan, Xiaoyun Zou and Lu Wang respectively and they all have one thing in common – they are all passionate about bringing the Mandarin Stars Program to Europe. As parents themselves (Terry being mum to Spencer; Xiaoyun and Lu are proud parents to their beautiful baby daughter Mia – who I had the wonderful opportunity to meet in Paris over January) and the whole notion of teaching Mandarin not just to their own children but others as well is a priority and excitingly, they will commence their first classes in February this year! On behalf of the Mandarin Stars community, we welcome Terry, Lu and Xiaoyun to our team and wish them all the best in delivering our world-leading Mandarin program for children in the Netherlands.

Below is the Mandarin Stars Netherland Facebook page for those who want to take a look:

Https://www.facebook.com/mandarinstarsNL

NEW CLASS UPDATES!

Mandarin Stars was delighted last year to be offering an after school club in partnership with KEEN (Kids Extended Education Network – keen.org.au). KEEN connects families, educators and schools to develop enriching afterschool programs. It fosters a culture that highly regards giving and sharing knowledge and resources, in order to create happier, more fulfilling and engaging communities. KEEN is about offering our children the best opportunities. In Term 4, Nina lǎo shī and myself kicked off the first classes at Annandale North Public School which was a wonderful success. We had children ranging from Kindy to Year 3 attending our classes and it certainly felt great to be working in partnership with KEEN and the school to deliver our Mandarin program to the children. If you are interested in having a KEEN program at your school – please contact Natasha Lai-Butler via the KEEN website http://www.keen.org.au/#!contact/c17jp

Our staff members Nina and Tuesday at the KEEN Christmas Party in December.

Mandarin Stars is proud to be offering new Saturday Mandarin classes at Vinegar Hill Community Centre in Rouse Hill! There will be a Bubs and Tots Playgroup (9-10am) and also a dedicated Pre-schoolers class (10-11am). Our first classes will commence on Saturday the 28th of February and we look forward to meeting our new Rouse Hill students soon! Places are limited so do book ahead now via [email protected] or call Tuesday Qian on 1800 18 11 18.

Other new classes include a new Native Learner’s Mandarin Class which will be held on Saturdays at Kogarah (12:30-1:30pm), and also a new SuperSTARS class held from 1:30-2:30pm. We are starting to take Expressions of Interest now so please register your interest for these classes. Please note that the classes for native learners are held in 100% immersion Mandarin and are recommended only for children who are speaking Mandarin fluently at home. To find out more about our native program please visit: www.huawenzhixing.com.au

We also very pleased to announce that there will be a new childcare centre in picturesque Dural opening in Term 1 called Endeavour Early Education. As part of their early childhood program, they will also be offering Mandarin to their children. We are proud to have been chosen to partner with the Endeavour Early Learning team to deliver our Mandarin program to their children. We wish them all the best in the opening of the centre and look forward to working with them in 2015!

Over the course of years Mandarin Stars has worked with many primary schools, childcare and early learning centres and would be more than happy to assist parents if they would like for us to contact your own local childcare centre or school regarding to the possibility of Mandarin Stars running a program there. Please contact us at [email protected] for more information.

Our teachers are always striving to achieve our goal of delivering immersion-based Mandarin Chinese programs that are highly targeted and student-centric, ensuring relevance to the world around our students. We are determined to uphold our philosophy that classes are delivered through themes and topics of central interest to our students and that inspiration is key. Rather than simply adopting an intensive, academic approach, we instead hope to inspire the children – that through our interactive classes our students are entertained, and acquire an interest in learning Mandarin Chinese, slowly learning to appreciate the hard work and the hurdles leading to triumphs thus developing an appreciation for learning another language. Our mission is to ensure that our students at Mandarin stars can foster a lifelong love for learning Mandarin Chinese, the Chinese culture, and acquiring other foreign languages too.

On behalf of our franchisees, teachers and support team, we sincerely hope you’ve all had an amazing start to the New Year, and look forward to working with all our families and students at Mandarin Stars.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions on [email protected]

PS: Join Mandarin Stars on Facebook! Click here to join us for regular updates on our classes and also latest developments and research in learning Mandarin and second language acquisition! https://www.facebook.com/mandarinstars

Term 1, 2015 Dates: Saturday 31 January – Thursday 2 April inclusive

Best regards to you and your families.

Xiè xie!

Dawna Leung
Founder & Director
Mandarin Stars