Families in Issaquah and Sammamish can take part in a series of free workshops on Chinese culture and the Mandarin Chinese language this spring.
The first of six free weekly workshops will be from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, May 1, at Challenger Elementary, which is at 25200 SE Klahanie Blvd. in Sammamish.
The workshops are open to all Issaquah School District families and are designed for children from pre-kindergarten through second grade. They are offered by a group called Mandarin Playground, which also offers after-school classes in the Mandarin Chinese language.
“Our ultimate goal is to help children learn a little bit about China and Chinese culture,” said Yanfang Su, a Sammamish resident who is one of the founders of Mandarin Playground in a press release. “We want to enhance friendships among all kids, regardless of their mother tongue.”
Each workshop will include a mix of arts and crafts activities – including learning to trace Mandarin Chinese pictographs, the symbols for words in the language – along with individual and group story times. Parents are encouraged to take part in the activities, along with their children.
For details, go online at www.mandarinplayground.com.
Language classes offered
In addition, Mandarin Playground also will offer instruction in speaking and reading Mandarin Chinese with a series of classes this spring, also at Challenger.
The classes for non-native speakers of Mandarin will begin at 4:15 p.m. Monday, May 5, and will continue once a week for four weeks. They will be taught by Jingran Wan, who holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Sydney, and teacher certifications in both Washington state and China.
The classes already have been offered at Snoqualmie Springs School, a private school in Issaquah. Classes include interactive learning, themed physical games and opportunities for students to practice both language and social skills, she said.
“The class format, delivery strategies, materials and methods appear to be age-appropriate for the students and kept their attention and interest,” said Joe Drovetto, the chief administrator at Snoqualmie Springsin in a press release. He also gave the curriculum high marks for providing students art and craft activities.
Classes for non-native speakers of Mandarin cost $60 for the four weekly lessons. Su said donors have provided money for scholarships that can lower the cost. For information on scholarships, e-mail email@example.com.
Su, who holds a doctorate in global health and population from Harvard, said the offerings at Challenger and Snoqualmie Springs are pilot programs. If successful, they will be offered at more Issaquah School District schools in the fall.
Seattle is a global city, Su noted, so being bilingual and aware of other cultures is a vital skill for children to learn. In addition, it’s one of America’s most-literate cities, she said. “This adds another layer to that.”
“With all that’s going on in the world, it’s more important than ever for American and Chinese people to understand each other,” Su said in a press release. “With Mandarin Playground, we are trying to do that in a way that’s fun for our kids.”
Information on all Mandarin Playground programs – which include online courses and after-school programs for children of Chinese-speaking families as well — is available online at www.mandarinplayground.com.