Chinese: A great language for Australian young people to learn

Jude at the last Chinese Text Creation class in 2019

Jude and Lewis have been regular students at our Chinese for Families classes for a number of years. Many thanks to their grandfather Larry Owens Emeritus Professor of Education from Flinders University  (known to us as Larry) for writing this review of our classes.

I became interested in Chinese language as a result of work commitments over many years in Beijing and Shanghai. As Australia’s biggest trading partner, China is of immense importance to us and a greater understanding of Chinese language and culture is critical to us now and in the future. My oldest grandson, Jude (now 12 years old) was being home-schooled from his reception year and he needed to study a language as a part of his approved Australian curriculum. Fortunately, we found Belinda’s “Chinese for Families” (Jiale Zhongwen) which offered Chinese after school hours and on weekends. Belinda is a highly experienced teacher of Chinese language and she marries together an advanced theoretical knowledge of language learning with highly engaging classroom methodologies. With the help of the “Better Chinese” resources, Belinda and her staff provided an attractive teaching programme so that both my grandsons (the younger one, Lewis, now 8, also joined the classes) really looked forward to the weekly lessons. In fact, both boys have thrived, continually developing their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Jude is progressing through the Hanban official Chinese proficiency examinations, having achieved over 90% in both HSK1 and HSK2 (standardized tests of Chinese language achievement for non-native speakers). Lewis will begin these examinations in 2020. I can certainly recommend Belinda’s Chinese language programmes offered by her “Chinese for Families” classes.

Larry Owens, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Education, Flinders University

Building a language foundation – your child’s journey in learning Chinese

Our parents often ask about learning outcomes: how much will my child be able to understand, speak, communicate, read and engage with the Chinese speaking world? Recently one of our students went on a family trip to China and her mother kindly agreed to share her observations with our Chinese for Families community.

         “Our daughter has been learning Chinese for nearly 8 years now with “Chinese for Families” and our family    recently travelled to China for a holiday. It was a wonderful trip and gave us all the opportunity to experience       the food, language and culture while visiting some amazing places.

         During our travels we had no particular expectations of our daughter’s level of Chinese language – she has learnt a lot during her lessons but we knew she would not have the confidence or vocabulary required to hold a fluent conversation. However despite this, we were pleasantly surprised to discover how much she actually could understand while we were travelling.

        She was able to recognise various characters on signs and menus, and she could listen and understand some spoken words and phrases. At times she could assist us communicating with staff in shops and restaurants – even if only by speaking some words here and there – and even though none of this involved a full sentence or conversation it was extremely useful.

        It made us realise there are many stages in learning a language before reaching the highest level of fluent conversation – and all of these stages can help in communicating. As a family we felt very thankful for the weekly classes at Chinese for Families and the opportunity it has given our daughter to broaden her language skills. Thank you Belinda!”

I like to think that in our one lesson a week program we take children a significant way along the path of genuine language acquisition. When they finish with us, they still have some way to go but they’ve gone far enough to see the peak and to know that they can there. They have a solid foundation in and engagement with the spoken and written language. They ‘get’ Chinese and they are ready to race ahead on their journey to the mountain top!