Which to learn first, pinyin or word recognition?

Firstly, we need to understand that learning pinyin (Chinese phonetic alphabet) is not learning to recognize Chinese words. Pinyin is recording pronunciation. Using pinyin to improve literacy and reading creates an additional obstacle that often frustrates children when they can’t master it. This may cause young learners to shun learning and reading all together. Just put yourself in a child’s shoes.  A Standard 1 student needs to learn as many as 8 subjects in school.  Learning Mandarin alone requires them to master Hanyu Pinyin, recognize words, form phrases, make sentences and write essays.  Juggling between these learning tasks causes a huge amount of stress in children.

Chinese words are pictographic writing. So it is actually easier for young learners to recognize words than learning phonetic alphabet. Children aged 3 to 7 are very receptive to images and colours as they use the right brain more often during this period. Transforming Chinese words into image helps children to learn reading faster. Using the right hemisphere of the brain, children can easily relate images with words. This approach allows them to grasp the pronunciation of Chinese characters easily and quickly.

When a child is able to master 1,500 Chinese words before entering primary school, he or she need not spend much of his/her time and energy learning words during the first 3 years of primary school. More time and efforts can be put into learning other subjects or even reading.

A child who has higher literacy will not find learning burdensome compared to children with low literacy, thus giving the child a significant advantage. While other children are still busy learning to recognize words, the child is already reading a book and immersing in the wonderful world of knowledge! The more the child reads, the better his or her comprehension skills. With increasing learning speeds, his or her self-confidence grows too.

In other words, literacy plays a key role in determining a child’s academic achievement in Standard 1 till Standard 3. His or her academic results in Standard 4 and 5 are further determined by how much the child is able to read. Therefore, first thing first, high literacy before primary education is the key success factor.

Learning is a lifelong journey. Seize the moment and give your child a head start now!

Is your child’s literacy up to standard? 

Because every child is unique, we focus on face-to-face counseling. Bring your child along for the appointment to enjoy a FREE Preliminary Learning Assessment (worth RM150) today.

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Developing Visual Memory To Improve Learning Effectiveness

Writing words and phrases has been a major part of homework in primary school. Mrs. Wu discovered that her Standard 2 son had been very slow in writing, especially words with more strokes or words not commonly used in daily life. Her son always wrote a word stroke by stroke, constantly lifting his eyes to refer to the sample given. Thus, he usually could not complete his homework on time. Mrs. Wu was dismayed because her child took his learning seriously but every time when she looked at his snail’s pace, she couldn’t help to feel impatient. As practice makes perfect, she gave her son more word writing exercises to improve his writing speed but the result was still unsatisfactory.

YelaoShr® has often encountered such children for the past 20 years. In fact, their slow speed in writing words, learning to recognize words and reading are actually attributed to visual memory deficiency. As the Chinese proverb says, “A workman must first sharpen his tools if he is to do his work well”. Therefore, instead of giving children more word writing exercise to improve literacy, parents can enroll their children in proven literacy programmes to develop their visual memory in order to improve their learning ability. Only by increasing children’s visual memory can parents help their little ones overcome the problem of ‘snail’s pace word writing’.

What is visual memory? Visual memory is the ability of the brain to retain, categorize, integrate, and store the visual information seen by the eyes, and if necessary, recall and reproduce the visual image. Under normal circumstances, the brain can absorb up to 83% of visual information. In other words, we remember more by seeing. However, visual memory needs to be developed. Children with underdeveloped visual memory will inevitably face tough challenges on their journey of learning.

Here’s an analogy between visual memory and a drawer. Suppose a thing that we remember is a balloon and our visual memory is a drawer. For average people, they only need to blow a small balloon and it can be kept inside the drawer for a prolonged period even though air will gradually leak out from the balloon. However, for children with underdeveloped visual memory, their visual memory is akin to a drawer with a hole. So they need to blow a big balloon, bigger than the hole in the drawer, so that it will not drop out from the drawer through the hole.

Children with under developed visual memory usually:
1. Cannot write words they have seen or read
2. Cannot read a passage or a sentence smoothly or completely
3. Can only manage one task at a time; often forget about a task if given two tasks at once
4. Cannot focus in class and are easily distracted
5. Make many spelling mistakes in their homework
6. Write a word stroke by stroke, constantly referring to samples given
7. Are absentminded and often misplace their belongings

YelaoShr® ‘Word Impression Method’ capitalizes on the separate functions of the left brain and right brain as well as the pictographic nature of Chinese words to help children learn the language. We also use flashcards to catch their attention, especially younger children with short attention spans. With a large amount of illustrations to stimulate the brain, and as children learn to read the words aloud fast and repetitively, we develop their visual memory. Our teaching method fully harnesses the potential of the right brain to transform a large amount of Chinese words into images in a short span of time. This method enables the brain to recognize Chinese words like a camera taking photographs, thus making learning naturally fun and easy.

This stimulating process propels children’s brain development and improves the brain’s visual memory. As their brains develop, it becomes naturally easier for children to remember the structure of Chinese characters. With increased ability to recognize spatial relations, young learners can recall and write a word correctly after a glance and need not practise writing it repetitively to remember the order and location of its strokes. This indirectly helps children to save time and effort when doing their word writing homework, helping them to overcome the problem of ‘snail’s pace’ writing. Most importantly, we make the whole training process more lively and interesting than dull and repetitive writing for children, thus making them more receptive to learning.

Research has shown that training indeed affects memory development. The more opportunities a child is given to train his or her memory power, the higher the possibility of him or her having a strong memory in the future. Therefore, it is advisable to start the training as early as possible to nurture this lifelong ability. Visual memory aids significantly in developing a child’s thinking and comprehension skill. Poor visual memory will hinder a child’s learning progress in a big way. So, contact YelaoShr® now to know more about how we can train your child’s memory power to improve your little one’s learning efficiency!

Because every child is unique, we focus on face-to-face counseling. Bring your child along for the appointment to enjoy a FREE Preliminary Learning Assessment (worth RM150) today.

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How to Choose The Right One-to- One Class?

Aiming at parents who hold high hopes for their children, tuition service has been flourishing in recent years. Spurred by the proliferation of internet, some tuition service providers advertise their service on the internet to enrol students and recruit part-time tuition teachers at the same time.

It is not uncommon that parents who came to us compared home tuition and YelaoShr® as both are providing one-to- one coaching. So what is the difference between the two? Below are our answers:

Difference 1:

YelaoShr® is an established educational institution with more than 10 years of experience in the sector. We have a comprehensive system to select and train teachers to ensure service quality. Many tuition centres or tuition service portals on the internet serve only as intermediary agencies to provide a platform to connect teachers and parents with the aim of learning intermediary fees in the process. Thus, the service quality is often inconsistent, if not questionable, due to inadequate qualifications and experience as well as lenient standards of teacher selection.

Difference 2:

YelaoShr® requires all teachers to adhere to our Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), programmes and prescribed methods so that the progress of each student can be systematically measured. When a student has not shown expected progress, we are able to provide timely and specific solution to tackle the issue. On the contrary, home tuition teacher does not have a systematic teaching programme or learning plan despite providing one-to- one coaching.

Difference 3:

YelaoShr® provides learning assessment for every child. Our experienced teachers assess, record and report a child’s learning progress periodically in addition to providing feedbacks to patents when necessary.

We also develop our own teaching materials and adopt learning solutions based on a child’s learning pace and literacy level because we do not subscribe to one size fits all. On the contrary, home tuition teachers do not have a proven programme and materials.
With so many tuition choices to select from, parents need to consider several key factors:

Key Factor 1: Qualifications of Teaching Staff & Teaching Methods

Large classes affect learning because teachers are unable to give adequate attention to each student. Therefore, one-to- one coaching is a better solution that ensures effective teaching and learning. At YelaoShr® Teacher Yap Creative Learning Centre, we are backed by several hundred teachers who are systematically trained and dedicated to the teaching profession so that one-to- one coaching is available to every student.

Key Factor 2: Teaching Solutions

The teaching programmes should be target-specific and custom-made with strategies that vary according to literacy level and learning pace. For example, at YelaoShr® Teacher Yap Creative Learning Centre, our personalized programmes provide individualized learning based on each student’s ability.

A friendly reminder to parents: Avoid enrolling your child in a tuition class that does not really benefit him/her just because you want a quick-fix solution, which eventually and actually costs more precious time and money.

Key Factor 3: Brand, Word of Mouth, Customer Service System, Number of Students and Track Record

Parents should do their homework after searching for info on the internet. This includes visiting the centres, enquiring about qualification of tutors, number of past successful students as well as asking for opinions of friends and relatives.

No teaching method will work if parents do not understand their children’s aptitudes and abilities because they cannot instill a love of learning in children let alone improving their academic performance. For instance, some children are fast learners but lack self-control; some might be below average in a class, so a large class will not benefit them as they require more personal attention from teachers.

Therefore, parents should be aware of their children’s learning needs before selecting a learning programme. Professional learning centres have a systematic pre-learning assessment that helps identify a child’s learning challenges before formulating a solution plan that targets at the root of a problem. This approach is more effective in helping young learners to improve in their learning.

Because every child is unique, we focus on face-to-face counseling. Bring your child along for the appointment to enjoy a FREE Preliminary Learning Assessment (worth RM150) today.

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Reading Should be The Focus In Primary School, not Academic Result.

Reading is the foundation of learning. The age between 3 and 8 years old is the golden period of reading development. Thus, nothing is more important than parents helping children to read more and to improve on their reading ability during this stage. Children, who are able to read extensively, possess unlimited potential to improve academically and catch up in school in spite of a slow start.

In theory, the age between 0 and 6 years old is an important period when children form good psychological and behavioural habits; it is also a stage where they develop various abilities, especially cognitive abilities. It is known that at least 90% of the cognitive abilities can be developed through reading. Two conditions must be met to develop reading effectively, i.e. continuity and consistency. That means, first and foremost, cultivating a habit of reading requires a child to read daily at a designated time rather than reading only based on one’s whims and fancies. Secondly, children should read consistently in order to reach a targeted cumulative amount of words, normally ranging from 500,000 to 1,000,000 words a year.

Reading ability develops rapidly during the primary school period. Therefore, there is nothing more important than parents helping their children to read extensively and improve on their reading ability. A child’s intelligence is akin to a sprouting seed that only grows under certain conditions. In this sense, the conditions are high-volume reading and cognitive games that involve the use of the hands and mind.

If a child has never read a good book or a book with more than 100,000 words, and his or her time is mainly spent on reading textbooks and doing homework, the potential of his/her intelligence will not be fully developed. In general, children in Standard 1 and 2 should read at least 1 million words a year (normally between 1 – 2 million words), while children in Standard 2 and 3 should read at least 2 million words a year (normally between 2 – 3 million words). For children in Standard 4, 5 and 6, their reading volume should reach at least 3 million words a year (normally between 3 – 5 million words; some can even reach 10 million words per year).

Children in primary school should never spend most of their time and energy in reading textbooks and doing workbooks because these books do not provide in-depth knowledge that satisfies their inquisitive mind. Only reading a huge volume of books like classical stories and general knowledge books (astronomy, geography, history, physics, chemistry, philosophy, arts, etc.) can help children develop their intelligence and potential.

Schooling children spend most of their time learning in class, doing a large quantity of exercises in school as well as at home in the evening. As their time and energy have been largely spent in academic learning, studying more is therefore ineffective in developing their intelligence―it is akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack. Therefore, why not let them read more books to improve their cognitive abilities and expand their knowledge rather than pursuing something in futile? That’s why some even say that academic results in primary school are often misleading and inaccurate in measuring children’s cognitive abilities. This is because when studying and homework have occupied most of their time, children will not be able to read extensively. Spending more time in academic study is a case of penny wise and pound foolish. Even if our children can obtain full marks in exams, it is still a huge loss for their future.

The problem surfaces during the period of lower secondary school. Many secondary school teachers discover a peculiar phenomenon: High achievers who put all their time and energy in study to obtain high scores in primary school often suffer from slipping academic performance; some even suffer from burnout and throw in the towel. On the contrary, those who are well-read but performed mediocrely in primary school often exhibit higher potential to improve academically and are able to catch up in learning despite having a slow start.

The situation becomes even more serious in upper secondary school and when they enter the society where job performance is not measured by academic results. Many parents place great importance on children’s academic results during primary school and are even misguided by teacher’s emphasis on test scores to the extent that they are reluctant to allocate more time for their children to read and play as these activities are deemed as wasting time.

However, like a seeding that lacks nutrition and suffers from malnutrition, these children often experience learning fatigue in high schools. This leads to parents complaining about their children lackadaisical attitude but they hardly realize that they are the ones responsible for such ‘short-lived success’ and ‘malnourished intelligence’.

Therefore, parents should be open-minded. They should not be restrictive, insisting their children to pursue high scores when their children enter primary school. Instead, they should make preparation to pave the way for their children’s future development. Primary school is the sprouting period of a seed, lower secondary school the budding stage, upper high school the full bloom, while tertiary education is an all-new phase of growth.

In short, as parents who care for the lifelong growth of our children, we should not overstress academic results in primary school. We should aim at helping our children to build a solid foundation in various aspects, cultivating good habits that can truly benefit them throughout their lives.

Because every child is unique, we focus on face-to-face counseling. Bring your child along for the appointment to enjoy a FREE Preliminary Learning Assessment (worth RM150) today.

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Why YelaoShr® Chinese Flashcard Are More Effective?

Why are your Chinese flashcards different from others?”
“Why are there no pictures in your flashcards?”
“Can children learn better without pictures?”

These are some of the questions we often encounter regarding our flashcards.

Yes, YelaoShr® Chinese flashcards do not contain any picture but only words―a unique feature that set us apart from other learning centres, giving us the leading edge in helping young learners to read.

Most Chinese flashcards in the market come with pictures to help teachers give hints to students when they learn how to read a word. A picture is usually placed next to a word to suggest its meaning. It purportedly facilitates teaching as teachers can use the picture to explain the meaning of a word. Such method is often said to improve literacy and hailed as the latest learning development. On the contrary, we see this approach as counterproductive, affecting children’s ability to recognize words.

Chinese words are essentially pictographic writing. It is one of the few languages in the world that promotes right brain development. Chinese characters appear as beautiful images for children who have yet learned to read in the language. Adding pictures to Chinese words is therefore unnecessary.

Using flashcards with pictures so that teachers can provide hints or meaning of a word from the picture actually impedes effective learning. The disadvantage of this method is that children won’t be able to grasp the strokes of the Chinese characters correctly. They may be able to recall the shape and pronunciation of a word but fail to remember every stroke accurately. This defeats the ultimate purpose of learning to read and write in Chinese.

At YelaoShr® Creative Learning Centre, we use Chinese flashcards that contain only words and do not use pictures as hints. Such approach ensures that teachers employ their creativity in teaching young learners to recognize and pronounce words. This poses a great challenge to our teaching staff. Hence, our teachers are professionally trained and experienced. Children learning Chinese with pictureless flashcards can master pronunciation and remember every stroke better, thus helping them to write correctly.

In addition to Chinese flashcards, most Malay and English flashcards also come with pictures. The main purpose of using pictures in flashcards is none other than stimulating the right brain for better learning results. However, unlike the pictographic Chinese words, Malay and English words are formed from phonetic letters, thus making the method fundamentally flawed.

Malay and English words are not pictographic writing. Therefore, putting Malay and English words in flashcards to teach reading is no different from conventional method of teaching children to read from a printed page. It fails to take full advantage of flashcard learning method. It should not be even called as flashcard method. To put it plainly, such approach in teaching Malay and English literacy only encourages children to memorize the words. It regresses to conventional rote learning.

YelaoShr® Malay & English Literacy Programmes emphasize pragmatic and long-term results. As Malay and English words are composed of phonetic letters, we focus on suku kata and phonics to teach children how to pronounce the words. Only when children have mastered them, we will then move on to using flashcards with pictures (as per samples of English flashcards shown below).

This picture shows a flashcard with a picture to stimulate the right brain of young learners. 

This picture is flashcards used to help children learn Malay and English.

Only when children have built a strong foundation in phonics can they read, comprehend and write correctly in a breeze.

Life is full of joy when one learns to read and write!

Because every child is unique, we focus on face-to-face counseling. Bring your child along for the appointment to enjoy a FREE Preliminary Learning Assessment (worth RM150) today.

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Learning Chinese Words: Never Too Early For Young Children!

Learning Chinese words at the age of 3? Why so ‘kiasu’? Mandarin is a difficult language to learn. I want my child to enjoy his/her preschool years. Furthermore, it’s never too late to learn it when he/she enters kindergarten!”

The above is a common reaction from parents when we introduce YelaoShr® Chinese Word Recognition programme to them.

Learning to read Chinese words at the age of 3 is a sign of kiasu? Not necessarily true. In fact, it is a wise move to capitalize on a child’s golden period of right brain development so that its full potential can be realized. This is because our right brain develops earlier than our left brain. As the right brain is fully developed by the age of 3, thus children use it more often before 6. In other words, it is the ideal period for children to learn Chinese words. Their brains are like a blank disc, ever ready to absorb new information. To them, memorizing is not a burden but a biological necessity.

Is it really difficult for young children to learn reading Chinese? In fact, parents who had a tough time learning Chinese when they were young might have learned it using the wrong method. YelaoShr® ‘Word Impression Method’ capitalizes on the separate functions of the left brain and right brain as well as the pictographic nature of Chinese words to help children recognize Chinese words. This method improves learning effectiveness significantly in terms of amount, speed and effectiveness.

Conventional learning method taught in schools uses the meaning in a word to impress children. As Chinese words are pictographic writing, they are beautiful drawings to children. YelaoShr® ‘Word Impression Method’ uses pictorial message to stimulate the natural photographic memory of the right brain so that children learn to recognize Chinese words through images. The method fully harnesses the full photographic cognitive function of the hippocampus, enabling the brain to transform a large amount of Chinese words into images in a short span of time.

Thus, children can learn to recognize Chinese words as easy as a camera taking photographs, which will be stored permanently in the speech centre of the brain.

In addition, teachers will pronounce each word loudly as the flashcard is shown to students. As they follow their teachers in reading each word, children learn to use the eyes, ears and brain simultaneously. This helps improve learning effectiveness significantly.

Therefore, learning Chinese words for children aged 3 to 6 is not as tough as some might have thought. Instead, it fulfils the right brain’s innate need for stimulation.

Most importantly, scientific studies have proven that learning Chinese words at an early age helps improve a child’s intelligence! A brain study in US discovers that Chinese children’s average IQ is 24% higher than that of Caucasian children. This is attributed to Chinese children start learning Chinese words at the age of 4. In short, the right brain is where intelligence and inspiration are located. The earlier the right brain develops, the higher a child’s IQ!

Let your child learn Chinese words now. Give your child a head start in learning!

Contact us today to know your child’s literacy level.

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