A glimpse of the different teaching styles through my son’s experience
Our kids were born to a Chinese-language immersed environment. Both my husband and I speak Mandarin to our kids. My husband learned to speak Taiwanese when he was in college. Though he is a Hakka, he cannot speak the dialect. I do want our kids to pick up some Taiwanese, so they can communicate with their grandparents. I would mix Taiwanese and Mandarin when I talked to them occasionally. It might be hard to get them to the point where they can speak Mandarin fluently let alone Taiwanese. We can only do as much as we can to help them to understand the language/dialects. They might never have the use of the language/dialects but that is not my purpose of introducing the language/dialects to them. It is more about the fun of being exposed to different languages/dialects and learning the different culture as well. My son also took after school Spanish class for about a year.
We have been trying to register our kids in the Saturday Chinese class sponsored by the Taiwanese American Association and taught by the Taiwanese teachers but the schedule does not work for us. We have too many activities on Saturdays such as swimming, snowboarding, and etc. Learning Mandarin is the last on our list. So we were really happy to hear that our school offered after school Chinese classes. We jumped on the bandwagon right away. The after school Chinese classes are taught by the Chinese teachers from the Chinese immersion program.
We are seeing results on my daughter. My daughter, who used to refuse to speak Mandarin at all, now finds learning Mandarin interesting. She likes the class and is learning to write though in simplified Chinese format. Her Chinese teacher, being young, seems to play well with the kids and has a way to encourage them to speak Mandarin. The result on my son is exactly the opposite. My son, being home with his grandparents in his first one and a half year, was much better and willing to speak Mandarin initially; however, he finds it miserable to attend the after school Chinese class and doesn't seem to learn much from the class. His Chinese teacher is older and is very strict on the kids. I am not saying that this teacher adopts a poor teaching method but that the teacher method is not ideal. Learning can be fun and the kids actually perform better when they feel that it is fun to learn.
I am seeing a huge difference on the teaching method between teachers from China/Taiwan (especially teachers from China) and teachers in the US. This is just our perception of the teachers we encounter. A recent posting of children's writing on the wall outside the classrooms gives us a glimpse into what the teachers value, especially in k-3, when teachers usually provide ideas and direction to help students write. Students were asked what they wanted to be/do. An overwhelming number of kids in the Chinese immersion classes stated that they wanted to score within 97 percentile in their NWEA tests. Some said that they wanted to get better scores in school. In the regular English classes, we do not see a kid mentioning anything about scores, not that getting good score is unimportant, but that it should not be the focus of education. Kids from the regular English classes mostly stated that they wanted to be a singer, a scientist, an astronaut, a fire fighter, or do anything that will help save the earth, the environment and others, and etc. You can see creativity in their mind.