Through songs, illustrated books and a hand puppet, Celie Perkinsen began understanding the basics of
The teaching methods are familiar to many, but the language may not be, because 3-year-old Celie of Bowling Green was learning Mandarin on Wednesday through those methods.
The Confucius Institute at Western Kentucky University sponsors a six-week series at the main branch of the Warren County Public Library in which preschool students learn Mandarin.
On the first day of the Learn Chinese with Me program at the library Wednesday, WKU graduate students Xiaoye Yang and Chunliu Wang taught the Chinese word for hello – ni hao – and the numbers one through five.
A panda hand puppet the instructors called Pan Pan was one of the many teaching methods used.
Among its many activities, the Confucius Institute offers cultural programming, language education and summer programs to preschool, primary and secondary students in the area and sponsors exhibits and performances to help foster an understanding and appreciation for Chinese language and culture.
WKU students also receive scholarships to study in China through the Confucius Institute.
Wang, 24, and Yang, 23, are Chinese natives who now work at the Confucius Institute.
“This is our first time teaching preschoolers,” said Wang, who is from the Chinese province of Anhui in the eastern part of the country.
Wang said she has taught Chinese to high school students in the area, but tailoring a language program for much younger students with Yang, a native of Hebei province in northern China, has proved to be a completely different experience.
“It’s been a very big challenge, but we enjoy it,” Wang said.
Celie, who turns 4 next month, appeared to be up to the challenge of learning to count to five in Mandarin, and by the end of the hour-long class she seemed to understand the numbers Wang and Yang taught her.
Celie’s day care provider, Linda Cosby of Bowling Green, said she was enthusiastic about watching Celie, an intelligent, energetic girl, learn during the six-week program.
“I know the exposure is going to be so beneficial,” Cosby said. “We’ve done a little Spanish, and I think this will be good, too.”