With more than a thousand years of history, Chinese is the second most spoken language in Singapore. As the mother tongue of many students, it is also easily the toughest subject to master in school, presenting as a worry to many. On top of the Primary, Secondary and Junior College Chinese curriculum, Chinese is also increasingly being recognised as being an important language to have mastery in. Being competent in the language may mean that one has more options available in terms of career progression in the future. Many adults are therefore picking up the language, with a particular focus on Business Chinese.
Mastering Chinese required mastering the different components of the language.
Chinese characters are notoriously hard to master. With the various rules and thousands of characters to be familiar with, practice is of utmost importance. When learning to write, students need to first understand the flow of the various stokes of the characters. The chronological order needs to be followed. It is hence why primary school students are drilled with Chinese penmanship worksheets with numbering for each character when young. Subsequently, teachers and Chinese tuition teachers also ensure that new characters are learned systematically and periodically with more penmanship practices, known as 习字. Repetition of the characters allows for the characters to be lodged into memory.
Chinese tuition provides students not just with the additional practices, which are easily available, but also feedback and corrections. Chinese tutors are able to pick out minor mistakes that may be penalised during composition writing.
To read the language, one must both recognise and understand the word. For the Chinese language, recognising the characters and knowing their sounds is the basis for reading. Known as Hanyu Pinyin, students are taught by Chinese tutors the specific sounds made by each word and their corresponding intonations. Chinese tutors usually emphasise on practice and reading widely so as to widen their vocabulary. Repetition builds up the speed at which students recognise the sound and meaning of the words. With enough reading in place, students can quickly build up their ability to read whole passages quickly.
While recognising words is important, understanding them is also vital. In the comprehension component, students are tested on their ability to understand the underlying message provided by the passage and answer questions. On top of a consistent use of the dictionary to obtain definitions, Chinese tutors also provide additional help by ensuring the meaning of the sentences are suited to the context in which they are set in. While there are definitions in place, Chinese is a highly complex language with multiple uses for different characters that only those proficient in it are able to easily identify.
Building on one’s Hanyu Pinyin also helps their speaking ability in Chinese. With a ready vocabulary in place set by practicing writing and reading, mastering the vocalisation of Chinese only requires getting the context and intonations of the words right. This can easily be done through practice and feedback. Lessons provided by schools employ the use of reading aloud to train this in class settings. In one-to-one Chinese tuition, the Chinese tutor may engage with the student to speak in conversations. Along the way, he/she can then correct the students where the wrong intonations and sentence structures are made.
In school, students are tested on their Chinese speaking ability through oral testing.
Students are required to produce essays solely in Chinese, answering the questions given. In primary school, this is often done with pictures depicting a certain scenario that students are required to write a story with. Moving onto Secondary School, students are taught descriptive and argumentative writing styles and are expected to showcase their abilities to do so.
Comprehension at all levels requires students to read a given passage and answer questions pertaining to the issues presented. Often, the information is given and students are often only needed to identify them within the passage. A strong command of the language will help students understand the passage and do so. It is also common for the last questions to have students reflect on the main issue or point of views presented. Chinese tutors usually prepare students to secure marks here with common quotes and phrases.
Oral exams are usually split into 2-3 components. First, reading a passage out loud to the examiner to showcase their reading ability, then describing the situation shown to them (which was previously the picture description component). With the recent change in syllabus, the 2nd component now also includes 2-way communication with the examiner, usually in the form of answering questions posed.
Chinese is definitely not a language that can be easily mastered alone. Help is often required due to its complexity. Chinese tutors, with a speciality and strong competency in the language, are readily available. Regardless of the need – from students requiring help for school or individuals who wish to master the language, ample help is readily available with Chinese tuition for crucial guidance in the language.How much does Chinese Tuition cost?