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Mini Mandarins: Language learning through interactive role play!

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Mandarin is the language of the future! Statistics say that one in every six people in the world are speaking it. Having loved learning Mandarin as a child through university, I knew the importance of exposing my toddler to the language early on. Since English is our primary language at home, I knew we needed some sort of help in that area! Enter in a fantastic new Mandarin learning centre.

Mini Mandarins Learning Centre is a brand new premier learning centre in Hong Kong that has an incredible focus on teaching the language through interactive play, practice and applications. One of the first of its kind, Mini Mandarins is not your typical language tutoring centre. Their emphasis on interactive role play gets the children excited to practice their newly acquired language skills.

A huge portion of their curriculum is the focus on full participation through the “Mini Metro”. This is an area in the centre where a space is dedicated to the monthly theme and is fitted with the most adorable mini pieces of furniture and items that pertain to the theme. So whatever the children may be learning that month, they will be putting their language skills to practice in a “real world” setting.

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My toddler, Aiden and I were lucky enough to attend a Mini Tot’s class during the “Restaurant” Themed month. I loved that the class size was pretty small (1 primary teacher and 1 teacher’s assistant to two children). Aiden fell in love with the teachers right away! Coming from a predominantly English speaking household, this was Aiden’s first exposure to Mandarin and I was impressed by how quickly he picked up! This has a lot to do with the patience, flexibility and creativity of the teachers. They were extremely warm and interactive which made for a fun morning for an active toddler and his classmate!

From singing to story telling to poem reading to arts and crafts and dancing, both Aiden and I had a blast learning about special food items people serve during Chinese New Year. There was a lot of repetition of key phrases and words and by the end of the class, Aiden was repeating and following along the best he could! Boy, did that make this mama’s heart proud!

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The definite highlight was the last third of the class, when we got to go into the Mini Metro interactive play area. Aiden got decked out in a full on chef’s outfit and went straight into the most impressive play kitchen I had ever seen! We’re not talking about your typical IKEA kitchen set here, we’re talking about the most realistic mini kitchen I’ve ever encountered! The great thing about the small class size and the one-to-one ratio of teacher to student was that everywhere Aiden went to grab ingredients the teacher went with him, repeating each item in Mandarin. Not once did the teachers speak English. While Aiden was cooking up a storm in the kitchen, he was also being taught what he was doing in Mandarin. I learned a thing or two myself in that kitchen and was so pleased with the whole programme.

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Ever since that day, I have signed him up to a weekly session where he is now learning about body parts, health and hygiene and being in the medical field! He has a great time and when he comes home, I’ll say a few phrases and he will repeat them after me. I also love that the teachers send weekly lesson recaps via email with the songs, videos and poems the children are learning. That way, we can help reinforce the language at home.

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Overall, I am so happy Mini Mandarins has come onto the scene. It’s a great way for both child and families to learn such a beautiful language!

For more information on the centre and class times, please check out their website at: www.minimandarins.com

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