Set your kids up for success with these top Putonghua picks
One of the most useful gifts you can give a child is the ability to speak more than one language, and here in Hong Kong it’s so easy to expose your little linguist to two, three or even more foreign tongues. In this roundup, we’ll be exploring the different ways in which kids can learn Chinese here in the 852, with playgroups, classes and tutors to help them on their way to fluency. We’ve also included industry-leading Mandarin nanny services so your kid’s can even experience language immersion at home. Your kids are sure to go from monoglots to Mandarin masterminds in no time! So yi, er, san, let’s go!
There’s a good reason Mini Mandarins is a well-known name in the HK language learning scene. Its team encourages kids to master Mandarin in a real-life setting (by also encouraging learning through play). It has designed the extra-special “Mini Metro”; an impressive (and totally adorable!) role play learning environment, designed to boost student’s confidence by providing a safe place where they can practice their language skills in everyday use.
This simulated real-world setting can be transformed into a supermarket, restaurant, clinic and any other setting that can help kids improve their listening and speaking skills.
There’s no need to send your kids off to intense tutoring programmes, overly focused on academics just yet, instead students here can practice their Putonghua in an organic, interactive (and fun!) way by integrating Mandarin into their daily lives. After all, Mini Mandarin’s teaching philosophy is built on the key elements of practice and application – as it should be with learning any language! At Mini Mandarins, fun comes first, so there’s no better environment for encouraging a love of language learning.
Learning Chinese can be easy and fun! At Southside Mandarin, your kids will learn to fully appreciate Chinese as both a language and culture as they learn from highly skilled, native Putonghua teachers.
Languages are best learnt when children are young, so Southside Mandarin offers classes for children from age 6 months to 12 years old – many from top international schools. At Southside Mandarin, Putonghua is taught using a global and modern approach, both it’s curriculum and progressive immersion programmes have been designed for the 21st century student. In addition to language classes, Southside Mandarin also offers Chinese painting, Wushu, Chinese Dance lessons and more!
Use the discount code SASSYAUG2018 to receive an extra 10% discount when enrolling.
Beijing Mandarin, located in Wan Chai and Repulse Bay, offers a plethora of classes from “Early BB Birds” for 2 to 3.5 years old tots to “My Smart Chinese” for teenagers. There are four pipeline programmes to choose from: “Baby First Chinese”, “My Fun Chinese”, “My Fun Chinese-Higher”, and “My Smart Chinese”, you can bet your kid’s Mandarin needs will be taken care of here.
Kumon centres offer Chinese lessons which are hard work, yes, but you’ll certainly see results. Kumon Chinese works on Chinese characters, vocabulary, grammar, writing, and reading – you will have a little polyglot in no time. Although you will most likely have to police your kid’s homework with this option, so do your research and see if Kumon is right you and your kids.
Woodland Pre-School’s Aberdeen and Mid-Levels branches offer Saturday Mandarin Clubs for children aged 3 to 7 years. Hosted by a native Mandarin teacher, the club blends music and movement, craft, story time and role play to offer an exciting and inviting place to learn.
KiddiWrite Chinese focuses on vocabulary, sentence structure and composition, as well as writing in simplified characters. It covers the primary Chinese curriculum and is suitable for both native speakers and those learning Chinese as a second language. Classes are held at Kiddi Kraft’s Kowloon Tong and Kennedy Town branches.
The Young Learners programme at Jumpstart Mandarin Learning Centre in Sai Kung adopts a talk-based learning approach, with primary-aged kids being encouraged to build vocabulary and comprehension by discussing everyday topics such as “My School Bag” or “Food and Eating”. Reading and writing skills are not neglected either, with simplified Chinese characters being taught alongside Pinyin.
Jumpstart Mandarin Learning Centre, 2/F, 9 Tak Lung Back St., Sai Kung, New Territories, Hong Kong, 2791 4838, www.jumpstartmandarin.com
The Hong Kong Institute of Language’s HK Kidz Mandarin programme is another great option with classes including “First Step” classes for kids ages 3 to 4, “Getting Ahead” classes for 5- and 6- year-olds, as well as Arts and Theatre classes for kids all held in Mandarin. They also offer Christmas, Easter and Summer Holiday immersion camps, so plan ahead!
Safari Kid offers Mandarin classes for students in K1 upwards to K3 in Happy Valley. For even younger tots, there’s the Early Explorers class. Keep in mind that although Safari Kid does have two locations, only the Pok Fu Lam campus offers Chinese courses.
Safari Kid, Safari Kid, L101 Chi Fu Landmark, Chi Fu Fa Yuen, Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong, 2177 0001, www.safarikidasia.com
Highgate House has a range of classes – from nurseries to parent/caregiver and child classes in Mandarin as well as bilingual classes offered to slightly older kids. It caters to children from 3 months old and has been touted as a excellent pre-school by Hong Kong mothers.
Offering classes to kids and adults alike, Mandarin House is located in Central. Check in for the summer programmes offered to 5 to 15 year olds. Mandarin House prides itself on its modern learning approach and materials to fully immerse students in the Chinese language.
Mandarin House, Mandarin House, 3F, 74-77 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong, 2779 2955, www.mandarinhouse.com
Child Care Services
Do you want your child to speak and learn Mandarin but aren’t sure how to start? An option you may not have considered before is using a professional nanny service. DreamCare is one of Hong Kong’s leading childcare solutions specialising in native mandarin speaking nannies and early childhood educators. Tackle two problems at once; finding easy and reliable childcare, and fun and effective Mandarin immersion at home. Plus, you can opt for a full or part-time service, depending on your needs. If you’ve never worked with a nanny before, you might have ideas of strict governess’ or backpacking au pairs, but those stereotypes couldn’t be further from what DreamCare provides. Each nanny or early childhood educator (there are around 600 in employment!) is fully qualified in either early childhood education or holds a professional teaching qualification.
Your nanny will know exactly how to engage your little one with Mandarin. DreamCare follows a play-based approach to learning (always our favourite way to learn) as children are the most accepting of a new language when taking part in storytelling, arts and crafts and outdoor activities. Your kids will absolutely succeed with Mandarin through this approach, as each nanny knows exactly how to tailor educational mandarin immersion programmes and activities to each individual child, whether that’s based on age, ability or interest.
Eton House offers two playgroups for tots of different ages, one for 6 to 12 months and another for 12- to 24-month-olds. Eton House has a unique bilingual programme that runs for two hours a day, with the first hour taught in English and the second in Mandarin. This is offered only to the 12-to-24 month-old group, but the 6-to-12-month-olds have an option of joining either the English playgroup or the Mandarin group.
Eton House, Eton House Hong Kong, LG/F Kindergarten, Mayfair by the Sea I, 23 Fo Chun Road, Tai Po, Hong Kong, 2780 5700, www.etonhouse.com.hk
Offering Mandarin immersion programmes for children from 0-months to 12-years-old in fun small group settings. Mulberry House follows a natural immersion approach, which allows children’s confidence and fluency to grow in a fun and caring environment. It’s a popular choice amongst parents for its experienced and qualified native speaking teachers, puts its modern digital and interactive learning support.
Arts Plus offers a playgroup programme that will ensure your child will have fun while honing their Mandarin skills. With three difference age groups, Infant, Toddler, and Tot, your cherub will be exposed to various types of play including exploratory and sensory in a all purpose-built facility. Students are constantly monitored across five main areas: intellectual, social-emotional, communication, gross-motor and fine motor skills with parent education and sharing sessions being an important component of Arts Plus.
Mandarin For Munchkins offer classes for toddlers from 18 months up and have a good variety of age-specific classes. The classes are small with many capping at three and six students. It’s Mandarin playgroup uses simple songs, rhymes, stories, and games to start 18- to 36-month-old babies on the road to Mandarin learning, while the Mandarin classes allows older tots from 2.5 to 3.5 years the chance to have fun and learn Chinese without mum cramping their style! For teenagers, try the Mandarin Focus classes to support their school needs and individualise their learning with one-on-one private classes if needed! Classes are held in Central and Discovery Bay.
With its location slap bang in Central, Kid’s Land is the place to go if you’re based on HK Island and if your toddler loves music. Using nursery rhymes and songs as the basis for all classes, it’s Mandarin Playgroup provides a fun group environment for toddlers from 18 months to 3 years old. For older, bolder toddlers, Learn-n-Play is an unaccompanied session for 2.5 to 3.5 year olds.
ITS Hong Kong is a registered school offering courses and tuition in more or less every subject you can imagine, including, of course, Mandarin. Better for older children and teens, small group and one-on-one tuition is available, including special programmes for SAT II Chinese and AP Chinese preparation. Based in Sheung Wan and Mong Kok, its online course timetable is updated daily.
Back at the Hong Kong Mandarin School its Secondary School Mandarin course helps teens with their prep for Chinese exams such as GCSE, IGCSE, AS and A-levels, and IB. It offers small groups or private classes. The Hong Kong Mandarin School is a good place for the whole family to improve their Chinese, with adult classes aplenty, too! Junior classes are specifically aimed at international school students, intending to support language learning alongside the schools’ curriculum.
Hong Kong Mandarin School, 7/F, Tung Ming Building, 40-42 Des Voeux Rd Central, Central, Hong Kong, 2537 5606, www.hk-mandarin-school.com.hk
If you’re looking for flexibility for your teen then this is a great option. Focusing on IB and IGCSE Chinese exam preparation, New Concept Mandarin encourages regular testing and uses past paper mock exams to ensure that students are thoroughly prepared for the real thing. Its super-flexible approach to tuition means that sessions can take place at it’s Connaught Road Central centre, at home or even via Skype if necessary.
New Concept Mandarin, 13/F, Fortune House, 13th Floor, 61 Connaught Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, 2850 4332, www.newconceptmandarin.com
Specialising in teenage educational support, especially with the IB, MYP, SAT, ACT, AP, and GCSE programmes, NTK offers Chinese Core Classes, with the options Chinese A for native speakers and Chinese B for non-native speakers. To get further individualised support, book a private class and choose your teacher! For those who live further away from the main campus in Causeway Bay, try NTK’s new online tutoring for small group tuition and private lectures. NTK is particularly popular with students from international schools.
This article was originally published on 25, September 2012 and has since been updated. Thanks to Connie Cai for helping compile this list.