She attended her berries trial class yesterday. So far the reviews for berries has been good. I cannot comment or conclude the effectiveness of berries yet as it’s afterall just her first lesson.
But what I can tell you is the experience when I was there. A mere 15 mins experience with her in class; after which I was politely invited to leave the room.
The staff/receptionist (2 young ladies) speaks perfect mandarin. Not the china slang type but you can tell that they definitely aced their second language during their academic years. In such situation one would be compelled to converse in mandarin (possibly as fluent as one can) – which is fantastic. It creates a 100% mandarin speaking environment. Even when a parent speaks to them in English; the reply will be in mandarin. Awesome.
Ern was early for class as I wanted to settle the payment and administration etc… So there was a little room with some kids inside watching TV (chinese educational stuff) ern just walked right in, sat on the floor with the rest. She turned her head occasionally just to make sure mummy is still in sight.
When time is up, we were invited into the classroom. If you have been to bibinogs; the classroom setting is exactly the same. Sit on the floor type. White washed walls with toys laid on the floor to keep the children busy while waiting for the other children to arrive.
This is the part which I wasn’t ready. There were 8 students including ern. Except ern and another boy, ALL the rest were crying hell. It was bad. Real bad. Almost defeaning. I sat on the floor shell shocked. I just kept very quiet and in my mind struggling with a thought “did I make a mistake to bring ern for berries?” I think it was a good 5 minutes that I just sat there speechless. Then one of the teacher (there were 3 of them) came to me and said “rou ern is totally unaffected. Well done!” (in mandarin of course) That was the saving grace. Ern wasn’t bothered by the screaming and crying at all. She just continued playing with the toys, exploring the surroundings and even invited me to join her in a puzzle game.
Okay so while the two of us minded our own business, the teachers busied themselves carrying the children and trying hard to pacify them as best as they could. I think these N1children hasn’t been to a drop off class before and hence seperation anxiety is bad. But some parents were still with their kids; but that too didn’t help.
When the class finally starts at 5.15pm, as expected, it was music and movement. Ern’s favourite! She was a natural. Then teacher performed a skit (they are damn good) to elaborate or introduce the word of the day which was “mouth” and “nose”. When teacher asked ern a question, she answered in perfect diction in mandarin which amazed the teachers. Hahahaha I think they thought most kids attending berries don’t know a word of mandarin. There are lots of participation from the children. Ern kept laughing at the teachers as the skit was rather funny to her; silly to me. Hahahaha. The skit also teaches the children how to recognize the Chinese character (impressive). For instance; teacher will pretend to have bad runny nose by sneezing a couple of times (real loud) then next thing you see; teacher used scotch tape to attach tissue to your nose. The clear tape was meant to look like mucus!! The word 鼻 (nose) has two “horizontal” strokes at the bottom and that symbolizes the mucus. How cool is that?!
And then upon seeing ern nicely settled down… I was invited to leave.. I told ern I will be waiting outside and left.
So I went for my dinner and came back at 6.30pm and saw ern happily running towards me with a sweet in her hand and asked me to open for her. Hahaha! Soon after ern said to me “mummy cannot go inside. Only ern can. Mummy have to wait outside.” I asked if she wants to come back here again and she said “yes.” So yes, she is ready for berries.
P.S: we took home some materials which included flashcards of the words taught that day and “tested” ern. She CAN recognize them. Not bad for a start yah?