Sunday, September 9, 2007

i think i can count to four

John's sister Sue and husband Derik and baby Lucy were in town this week so we had some fun with them during Erin's school days. One day we went to a park on a warm morning so the kids could play in the water, which is much more fun if you keep your mouth as wide open as you can.

Another day we went back to the children's museum where Allison sat at the feet of Clifford "the big red dog". Someone really stretched the boundaries of their imagination with that one.

They actually had a big section of the museum set up like, ah, I'm guessing, Clifford's hometown or something and the twins thought it was fun to get the be the postmasters and get all the mail for the town arranged and into the proper slots. It looked as organized and efficient as a real post office, actually. I wonder if they are hiring.

In the art room the girls all enjoyed painting. Lucy somehow managed to get half of her head painted purple. I wonder how that happened.

By the end of the week Sue and family left and John's older sister and her two sons arrived from Oregon so we had the whole family at our house on saturday for a BBQ and some birthday cake (a week late for Terri, 3 days early for Kate and Allison).

Saturday was also Erin's first chinese class. Erin learned some mandarin in preschool. Over the summer I had all the girls take spanish. When that session ended I asked Erin if she would like to take more spanish classes or chinese classes and she chose chinese, and her buddy Quinton was already signed up to start "chinese kindergarten" for two hours each saturday. So I signed Erin up and the session started this weekend. According to the flyer for this school the classes are bilingual, but when I got there with Erin I was greeted by lots of surprised looks and told to go to a large meeting room where the organizers of the class will be giving all the parents and kids an introduction and greeting. "Oh, speak chinese?" a staff member asked me.
"No, I don't."
"Hmmm." She said, looking puzzled. Because as I soon found out, the introduction was given in chinese and everyone else in the room understood it. A staff member came over and started translating for me and we had to sit in a non-air conditioned room for a half hour listening to this and Erin looked miserable. Then we separated and went to our respective classrooms. Quinton's family was out of town so he missed this first class.

Erin's teacher showed the kids where to sit and then immediately began the lesson. In the first five minutes she went through numbers 1-10, colors, parts of the face and body, and several animals and there was no english spoken at all. Contrary to the info we'd received, this wasn't bilingual, it was full mandarin immersion and my head was beginning to hurt. But Erin didn't want me to leave so I stayed for the whole 2 hours.

At a break a couple of parents told me this is really a school for kids who speak mandarin in the home and the school is here to expand and reinforce vocabulary and pronunciation, and writing the characters. Yes, I'm getting a clear sense of that.

Still, after Erin got a little more comfortable, after the first half hour, she began participating and actually picked up the words and identified things when the teacher asked much faster and more accurately than most of the other 5 kids in the class, who were all chinese. Her teacher was really surprised, and so were the other parents. I remained completely lost.

At the end of class Erin was given two books with readings and songs to practice (with me!) at home. Give me a break, I can't make sense of any of this. I must have heard Erin's teacher (and Erin) count to ten about 25 times yesterday but I still couldn't get past four. I'm not the one taking chinese, I don't want to do chinese homework and more than that I really can't help her practice and pronounce these exercises. My head was really beginning to hurt.

So I emailed the school today and despite Erin's relatively good first class I think this is not the language program for us. If I have to be involved to this degree then we're going to have to do a language I can wrap my head around. I think we'll be looking at spanish again.

No comments: