Learning Mandarin the DASH Way

October 8, 2015 Update: As of this writing, the branch based at the Fun Ranch in Tiendesitas, Valle Verde has closed. Will provide more updates soon.

Dearest Daughter is still studying Mandarin. We moved her to a new learning center – DASH Cultural and Education Institute – which uses a developmentally appropriate approach to teaching Mandarin compared to her earlier school. I still think VCIS is a good school. I’ve concluded that there really is no perfect school or teacher. It’s a matter of which school or program that will best help you meet your educational goals for your children.

I now ask myself a couple of questions when checking out a learning provider (and I did the same before choosing DASH). Here’s the checklist and why I decided to enroll Dearest Daughter at DASH-CEI:

1. What does the provider offer (exactly)?

2. How will it help me meet my goals for my children’s education?

3. Will I get the best value for our hard-earned money?

4. What are the comparable alternatives like?

5. (The most important) Will choosing this provider be aligned with God’s plans for us?

Here are the answers:

1. What does the provider offer (exactly)?

DASH-CEI offers Chinese language classes. We were interested in Mandarin. At the Pasig branch (where we enrolled) only language classes are offered. Their other branches in Quezon City and San Juan offer tutorial services in other subjects and more. You can check out their website  http://dashchinese.com/ if you want to know more about their programs.

Their preschool/primary classroom has a play-set built inside it. This was a major attraction for DD (and her brother who also got interested to learn Chinese after staying beyond the free trial period). I also liked it because, according to the senior teacher and co-owner, this helps the children to play while listening and still speaking Chinese. It also helps them to relax and move about which we all now know is important to our health (as opposed to staying seated for long stretches of time).

2. How will it help me meet my goals for my children’s education?

I observed Dearest Daughter’s first class. I liked that they were very open to having me inside the class to personally see how the class would go. DD didn’t want to have me around though so I went out. The doors in their classrooms have little glass windows that let you watch the class without disturbing them.

DD had very little knowledge of Chinese before enrolling at DASH. All she had was the two months’ worth of vocabulary and some basic greetings from the old school and from watching Learn Chinese with Emma on YouTube. I used to help her with her lessons from the first school. I would have to say the approach was more traditional there.

At DASH-CEI the lessons are taught in a multi-sensory way which is developmentally appropriate for her age and abilities. Also, the mindset is to immerse the student, at least for the session she is there, in an exclusively Chinese language environment. They don’t translate anything so the child learns to understand the language faster and doesn’t rely on translations to get through the class.

Of course, the lessons are taught at what I considered was the right level and pace for her.

So, will DD learn Mandarin (our goal)? Yes.

Will she have fun while doing it? Definitely. The best part is there are no quizzes!

3. Will I get the best value for our hard-earned money?

DD’s classes are 3 times a week (one hour per session) at a little over US$10.00 per hour. VCIS is more affordable and there was another provider I inquired from which charges about US$20.00 per hour. Naturally, all are in the Pasig City area where we live.

Given what I’ve seen so far, DD is progressing well and her teacher is happy with her progress, too. She’s starting to have basic conversations already and it’s only been two and a half weeks since she started with DASH. Of course, we got to consider that she had about two months exposure at VCIS.

So, am I getting the best for what we’re paying for? It looks like it. It may be a little early to say that it is the best value. I’ll write another post in about three to four months to confirm this.

4. What are the alternatives?

I considered getting the Rosetta Stone Kit for Level 1. But I thought DD would benefit greatly from interacting with other classmates and a teacher. Also, I think the Rosetta program is for older students.

As for the other schools, there was VCIS which offers a Mandarin language program that follows the curriculum in other Chinese schools in Metro Manila. So there ‘s the security of having a tried and tested program. The downside was that it wasn’t the most suitable for DD’s age and learning style. The more pricey learning center also boasted of graduates that could speak well but it didn’t have any classes for DD’s age group.

At DASH-CEI, the teachers are native speakers of Chinese. The program it uses is the Chinese Character Canon (or CCC)  which, from what I understand, is based on research done by both Chinese and Philippine educators and was found to be an effective method for teaching Mandarin. The program aims for native-speaker fluency and not as a second language speaker. What it all means is that Chinese culture is a part of the program.  I thought that was ambitious but it made sense to have a whole approach and not chop it all up into different parts.

Of course, my goal is just to have DD learn how to speak Mandarin. If she gets more out of it because of the way she is taught, and which is not harmful to her growth, then I’m for it.

5. (The most important) Will choosing this provider be aligned with God’s plans for us?

Well, after much prayer and waiting, I can say that yes, DASH-CEI was “the one” for DD.

If you want to learn Mandarin and you live in the middle and northern part of Metro Manila, I strongly recommend DASH-CEI.

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4 thoughts on “Learning Mandarin the DASH Way”

  1. This looks very interesting! Unfortunately all their branches are in QC… I live in Paranaque and I enrolled my son in A-Plus International School, their pre school program includes Mandarin classes 🙂 he knows quite a few Chinese words and phrases already… Xie xie!

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