Because Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language and bears no resemblance to Latin-derived languages (including English), it is widely considered to be three or four times harder to learn than French or Spanish.
Our mission at Mencius Mandarin preschool is to serve as a first step in exposing preschool-aged children to this difficult-to-learn language, at a time when children's brains are at an "advantageous window" for absorbing new sounds and tones.
Our highly qualified teachers have developed age-appropriate curriculum and tools that will help children learn Mandarin Chinese's tonal system in a fun, play-based, socially interactive manner (using songs, stories, word games). The class schedule is divided into two halves each day: English in the first half and Mandarin Chinese in the second half. The totality of the curricula seeks to develop children's overall physical, intellectual, linguistic, creative, and social skills.
Colin Baker, author of A Parents' and Teachers' Guide to Bilingualism and a researcher of bilingual education, writes in his book, "Through playing with other children, organized games and activities, simple learning experiences..., children in a nursery school can easily and successfully pick up the basics of a second language."1
The ultimate goal of Mencius Mandarin Preschool for its students is the ability to comprehend basic Mandarin Chinese and some speaking ability. We believe this background knowledge will serve as a foundation for future fluency in Mandarin Chinese.
In fact, Baker also writes, "An ability to understand a second language arrived at nursery school is an invaluable foundation for later blossoming in the primary school."21 Baker, Colin. A Parents' and Teachers' Guide to Bilingualism. Avon: Multilingual Matters Ltd, 1995. 128.