My boy does not speak Mandarin. He can understand some Mandarin but he can’t speak it. He can read a little and write reasonably well but he can’t speak well. I thought it would be okay that given time he would be able to catch up with the spoken language. Unfortunately he was sick and missed almost half of the school term. For example, the children have done 6 ting seah (Chinese Spelling) and my boy missed all of it. It is the same for other languages.

Now, he is somewhat lost. He says teacher put up a duty roster while he was away from school but he does not know what his duty is. He is afraid to ask teacher because he can’t speak Mandarin. He does not understand the roster and does not know how to read what is written on it so he is now afraid because he is not doing his share of duties.

I really thought he would be okay because when his sister was in Primary One, most of her classmates were like her. They all spoke in English and the teacher had to speak in English to help them understand. Eventually they all learned. My boy is in a class where they put most of the non-Chinese. 1/4 of the pupils in his class are non-Chinese. I thought that would make things even easier for him. However I am wrong. The Mat-Salleh boy, the Indian girl, the Malay boy, all of them speak Mandarin with ease. In fact, I notice that most of  his classmates speak in Chinese rather than English. All these children had attended at least 2 or 3 years of Chinese kindergarten.

So now we are lost. My husband says it is my fault. He had kept on asking me whether he needed extra preparation in conversational Chinese before he started school and I kept on brushing it aside saying he will be alright. It is my fault he is lost now. My boy says his friends point at  him and say “how come he doesn’t speak Chinese?” For his sister, we did get her kindy teacher to come in once a week for about 6 months before she started school to do nothing but just talk to her in Chinese. I also went through some reading material with her similar to the Peter and Jane series and taught her up to 800 words before she started school. I guess that makes a difference for her. For him being the second child, I did not have this undivided attention nor time to read the books with him so closely. We only got up to 300 words.

So what to do now? Guess I have to buy more Chinese vcds etc for him to watch and expose him more to the language. The only problem is… we don’t have time to watch them. I will also try to go through his Chinese Language book with him before his teacher teaches him so that he can understand the lesson better. The problem with that is, as usual, I can’t find the time because I have to teach his sister too and her lessons being so much harder usually takes up more time and energy from me. It is always that way. Poor boy. I must find more time to teach him.

Does anyone know of any good online Chinese computer games? He likes computer games so maybe that will help a little.

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