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At a local community center, the sound of children singing Chinese songs can be heard from one of its classrooms. The characters of the day are displayed on a board in the room, and around the classroom, children perform activities that involve these characters. Some practice calligraphy, while others sing songs. The instructor, speaking only in Mandarin, watches over the children as they thoroughly enjoy themselves. This is Milaas Chinese Immersion () program for children.
The Chinese Immersion program is a new addition to Mi laa, a company focused on developing early childhood learning events and programs and providing them to young kids. We are excited to offer our Chinese Immersion Program in Toronto, says Paul Jan, Milaas founder and a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We teach children Mandarin, which stimulates their cognitive development and gives them a deeper and better grasp of their first language (e.g. English) through a completely different language, says Jan.
Research has shown that children who have learned a second language early on demonstrate certain cognitive advantages over children who have not, and subsequently have been shown to have higher reading and math test scores than children who do not know a second language. Chinese is a great language to stimulate the cognitive development in children, says Claire Tsai, professor of marketing at the University of Torontos Rotman School of Business and also a trained behavioral psychologist. It is a completely different language in every single angle grammar, form, and pronunciation – that will stimulate children to develop verbal, reasoning, and problem solving skills. As research has shown, learning a language is very much a cognitive problem solving skill, similar to mathematics, says Tsai.
Milaas Chinese Immersion Program is unique and different from other programs in that it utilizes the memory-by-association technique to help children remember the characters in the long term. Its interactive story theater builds imagery for the key characters through live props, characters, and active participation from the children. For example, when learning the characters for rain and water, children are asked to pronounce these characters in Mandarin while making the sound of water splashing and moving their fingers vertically to mimic raindrops falling from the sky. Children are then encouraged to recreate the story as a form of repetition to help them recall and remember. Finally, children transform the imagery onto paper through calligraphy. This method is more time-consuming, but research has demonstrated the positive effect in helping children remember what they have learned in the long term, says Tsai. Children can also apply similar techniques to help them remember other events or information later in life.
Milaa is running two Chinese Immersion Programs this summer in Toronto. One is at Swansea Town Hall in the High Park neighborhood and other is at Lil Bean N Green in Leslieville. Milaa, an acronym that stands for Morality, Intelligence, Leadership, Athletic, and Artistic, was founded with the following principles:
1.Holistic approach enhances learning, especially at a young age
2.Sensory experiences and the sense of imagination are essential for child development
3.Milaa aims to build a community for parents who appreciate the holistic approach
Milaas vision is to educate parents concerning the importance of the holistic approach to learning, provide the essential sensory experience for a childs development, and create a community to preserve and advance a childs development.
Milaa is founded in 2013, and is based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. For more information please visit its website at http://www.milaainfo.com or send your questions and inquiries to info(at)milaainfo(dot)com.