Thursday, September 8, 2011

Things always fall into place somehow

This post is going to bore those people who don't have children around Ryan's age and who are not based in Singapore, so if you fall under that description, I hope the photos will help to entertain you. Otherwise, come back tomorrow ok!

We recently received official confirmation that the Julia Gabriel Centre for Learning will be moving out of its premises at Evans Road at the end of this year. All Mandarin classes will be centralised in their new Mandarin setup at Rochester Mall, called Chengzhu Mandarin Centre. Their English classes will be transferred to their branch at Forum.

I think this is a fantastic development because it means that the children will have a wholly Chinese environment, rich with language and culture, which I think is the best way to learn the language. From the programme information of Chengzhu Mandarin Centre, it looks like the Mandarin Edudrama will be revamped and presented as 1.5 hour classes called "Language Learners" and "Language Skills". Other specialised Mandarin classes will also be offered, eg. "Cultural Arts", "Mental Arithmetic", "Han Yu Pin Yin", "Creative Writing" and "Mandarin Expressions".

However, it does mean some significant changes for us.

Ryan is presently enrolled in two classes at Evans Road - English Edudrama and Mandarin Edudrama. The classes are one hour each and we chose the sessions that were back-to-back (English Edudrama is from 9 to 10 am and then Mandarin Edudrama is from 10 to 11 am). Next year, if we want to continue doing both English and Mandarin classes with Julia Gabriel, then we will have to divide our time between Rochester Mall and Forum. However, as we intend to continue with Shichida and swimming class on weekends, we're not keen on taking up two more weekend classes at a further two locations. At Evans Road presently, the classes are at the same venue and are back-to-back so we consider it as one session and it's very manageable. We have most of Saturday free and Sunday is still comfortable - a little exercise in the morning (swimming) and Shichida in the afternoon. Still lots of time to play and explore!

Another consideration is that we are planning on sending Ryan to Berries next year for Mandarin enrichment. We realised that we would have to rearrange our weekend schedule to accommodate this, maybe even drop a class, but we never got around to deciding anything. It was a bit of a headache so we pushed the decision off. Perhaps this development points the way out - drop both classes at Julia Gabriel, which leaves us with Berries, swimming and Shichida. A good mix of Mandarin enrichment, something sporty/physical, some mind-training, and still lots of time to play and explore. It all falls into place, no worries.

Actually, according to the programme description at Chengzhu Mandarin Centre, the new Mandarin Edudrama class for Ryan's level (Language Skills) will incorporate not only speaking and listening, but also reading and writing, which makes it similar to the classes offered by Berries. Julia Gabriel programmes are known for their speech and drama elements so I suppose the new programme will still retain that strength and Berries will still have an edge on reading and writing (at least for now) - that's my personal "unprofessional" view, as I have not attended any classes with either centre.

So assuming that the two sit on opposite ends of a see-saw, which side do we sit on? Well, we choose Berries, because we want to start focusing on reading and writing Mandarin (and learning these skills in a fun environment, which is what Berries is known for) and secondly, because there is a branch near where we live.

We do feel that the speech and drama instruction in the Julia Gabriel Edudrama classes has been good for Ryan (I will post a review later) so we'll look into similar classes for him when our weekend schedule frees up a bit in the future.

So it looks like the coming term will be Ryan's last term with Julia Gabriel, and certainly his last term at Evans Road. Oh well, as Richard said, "We had a good run and it was fun while it lasted". We will always have fond memories of Ryan's 1.5 years there, all the loving teachers and all the fun times.

[All photos taken at Oversea Restaurant in Beach Road on 19 June 2011.]


Unknown said...

Hello! Stumbled upon your blog while searching for reviews on early years Mandarin classes... Probably will sign our 11 mo boy up for Julia Gabriel's Cheng Zhu center. Cheers! -Mei

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