Act!on for a Cause
Brittany Wong - Chineasy
What inspired you to start this AFAC project Chineasy?
On a local scale, we recognise that cantonese ability is a concern for a lot of Hong Kong firms in hiring non-Chinese employees in various sectors. Since the ability to speak and write Cantonese is fundamental to securing employment, this is also the biggest barrier for ethnic minorities to seek for jobs in Hong Kong. We believe that exposing them to Chinese in their premature age will be a resort to such language issues.
AFAC project Chineasy allowed us to extend and expand the influence of language to our local community.
Personally, teaching NCS (non-chinese speaking) students is also a continuation of our passion for teaching kids English in Bali, Indonesia. Together with 10 of our classmates, we joined IVHQ's service program and we enjoyed the interaction with kids so much. Moreover, we had also served in a Handson Hong Kong center as Homework tutor for NCS students. We witnessed that they were learning materials that were extremely uncomparable to their own English level. They were thus convinced that they were uncapable of learning Chinese and hence disincentivised to learn Chinese. They often resorted to wild guessing when doing their homework and were hostile towards Learning Chinese. Hence, being privileged bilingual students who appreciate the beauty of Chinese, the four of us were driven to use our language abilities to integrate NCS into our local community. AFAC project Chineasy allowed us to extend and expand the influence of language to our local community. Therefore, the four of us participated in the program to help ethnic minorities in Hong Kong adapt to our local environment.
What is your project about and what is it trying to achieve?
We are convinced that the current Chinese curriculum for NCS students discourages them from Learning Chinese. Hence we would like to come up with better teaching methods and wish to spread it to all Hong Kong kindergartens. Our curriculum is designed such that it is more interactive, fun and accessible.
Our project is to have weekly lessons with six to eight kindergarten NCS children in a community centre in Jordan, which changed into online platform teaching due to the current COVID virus. As NCS children lack a cantonese-speaking environment at home and at school, our main goal throughout the course was to ignite their interest towards learning Chinese, hoping that they would have regular exposure to Cantonese from a young age. We want to enhance the Chinese proficiency of culturally diverse kindergarten children in our local community. We believe that by teaching them the basics of Chinese reading, listening and writing, they will be better prepared for the transition to primary education and early integration.
What are the short-term and long-term goals of Project Chineasy?
Our short term goal is to use our play-based and activity-based teaching style, like ball games, card games and board games to aid their learning so that they can recognise and write commonly used chinese characters, as well as listening to more cantonese. We would also like to inspire them to take initiative (perhaps with their parents) to drill deeper into chinese language (both spoken and written) even after our course by exposing them to interesting Chinese local cultures like season related and local events related activities. Through strengthening their Chinese skills, we also hope that NCS students will not be discouraged by the language barrier and be limited by their ability and their vision in what careers to pursue in the future.
Our long term goal is to observe their level of acceptance and effectiveness of our teaching methods in teaching them Chinese. We would compile a set of notes, containing our teaching methods with evaluation, and send to kindergartens in Hong Kong free of charge.
There were quite a few challenges throughout the project. The most important one would definitely be how to maintain order for our class to progress as scheduled due to the kids’ relatively shorter attention spans and limited Chinese ability. We found ways to make our lessons more interactive, including brainstorming about new games or playing with existing toys provided by the NGO we worked with in another way (eg: throwing food toys into the basket whenever they answered the food names correctly so that they played basketball in a way). Another major challenge deals specifically with online lessons due to the COVID-19 epidemic, in which delays due to connectivity issues were prone to happen and physical interactions were greatly reduced. Videos or life actions were also delayed. Therefore we worked with our powerpoints instead and tried to construct a storyline to keep the kids interested. We also added some GIFs to satisfy the need for visual stimulation.
Our mentor shared with us previous experiences in volunteering and working in NGOs. She encouraged us and gave us clearer directions in our project. Kids4Kids ensured that our project was on track, constantly reminding us to provide them detailed plans for the next two weeks and guided us in writing our reflections. Most importantly, Kids4kids gave us valuable opportunities to share our experience with the others through the blogs on their website and also the ZOOM meeting. We truly thank Kids4kids for their resources and opportunities! On the other hand, we also did research online to find organisationizations that can collaborate with us to provide NCS kids and to evaluate our Lesson performance, so the evaluation is more neutral.
So far most of the kids are secure with knowledge and vocabularies taught in class because most of them managed to recognise and pronounce words or phrases in the mini revision section we had before every lesson starts. They are also willing to attend classes on time and pay attention to materials taught. They would even initiate conversations with us actively and can often respond to questions asked. All in all, every kid showed significant improvement in terms of Chinese ability.