Fun and interactive games that incorporate familiar Singapore settings - these help pre-schoolers get passionate about learning Mandarin.
These children can learn how to count from one to six, name facilities in their local community or form sentences in Mandarin through a set of games entitled Fun Games for Learning Mandarin.
To play one of the games, the children have to toss a dice and move their game pieces to collect as many picture cards as possible.
A player must read out his game path in Mandarin - "I am walking from the hawker centre to the MRT station", for example - before he can pick up the relevant picture card placed on the board.
This is one of 10 games in the set, which is believed to be the first that is developed locally to teach a mother tongue language to pre-school children here.
Many of the games use scenes from everyday life which the children can identify with, such as eating durians or drinking Milo in a game incorporating food and drink items.
Said Dr Connie Lum, dean of pre-school at the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language (SCCL): "By having our games put in a local context, using scenes that the kids are familiar with, they are more engaged and more likely to use this vocabulary in their own daily conversations."
She said the game designers also strive to feature multicultural and gender diversity elements in the games. For example, one of the games shows children of different races, and a girl playing the male-dominated sport of basketball.
The teaching aids were jointly developed by SCCL and NTUC's Seed Institute which trains pre-school teachers, with sponsorship from the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism.
They were launched yesterday by Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo at the third International Conference on Teaching and Learning of Chinese as a Second Language, held at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic Convention Centre.
The teaching aids were piloted at NTUC My First Skool in Yung An Road in January. One of its pupils, six-year-old Xu Kang You, said: "The games are fun. I get to learn about the different places in my neighbourhood."
More than 3,000 game sets will be distributed to all pre-schools here next week.