'Mother Tongue' is a Singaporean local school curriculum component. With the integration of so many cultures and ethnic backgrounds, it's crucial that languages (other than English) form part of each child's rounded education.
English is the first language in Singapore (although Malay is the 'official' language). When you enroll a child into the education system, you will also specify a 'Mother Tongue' - It could be Chinese Mandarin, Malay or Tamil.
In the case of our kids, they have been speaking fluent English, Mandarin and Shanghai dialect from the moment they could first utter words... and based on this video from a few years back (Speak Mandarin Campaign), they are much better than their Dad's poor efforts in mastering the Chinese language:
Obviously, there is no such program in the US public school curriculum... so when we were house hunting in Tampa Bay last year, Sammi and I launched an all out effort to locate the best Chinese language school in the area. We checked out a few, but landed with the 'Tampa Bay Chinese School'.
Both of the boys are very advanced for their ages (Casey's oral Mandarin, Jaime both written and oral), so they are 'batting above their average' - they are both in classes with kids much bigger and older.
Classes are conducted at the University of South Florida on Sundays and the current school year has just wrapped up now for the summer break.
Yesterday saw the official break up, concert and awards ceremony.
Jaime finished the term with a solid 92% overall result (not bad considering he didn't start until half way through the year and the other kids in his class are at least a few years older than he is).
Casey entered the 2015 'Chinese Writing Competition' a few weeks ago and yesterday was awarded Second Place among all of the other children - also a bloody mighty effort, if you ask me!!
So to anyone out there looking for a top notch Chinese language and culture school, look no further than the Tampa Bay Chinese School... and very importantly, you do not need to be Chinese to learn the language - there are people from all backgrounds and age groups in the classes (including Caucasians). I guarantee, based on our research and now our experience, you will not find a better local option.
Casey accepting his second place award:
Now Jaime will probably hate me for this one, but this Singapore National Day video made headlines in the local media outlets in Singapore 4-years ago (Jaime was just 4 years old and had the cutest, fattest cheeks that everyone wanted to pinch):
The Mission of Tampa Bay Chinese School is to provide educational services in addition to striving for cultural exchanges between the Chinese community and other ethnic groups, while preserving the essence of Chinese culture overseas, in order to create a better future for our own.
Established in 1997, TBCS (the previous USF Chinese School ) has grown to a size of 22 different classes today, with total number of over 250 students aging from 3 to 16. All textbooks used in school are written and published by the Office of Oversea Chinese in Mainland China. There are 14 teachers in the school; all of them have years of experience in teaching Chinese. A variety of indoor and outdoor activities organized in the school makes Chinese study more interesting and effective. We welcome more local Chinese families as well as Americian families who are interested in learning Chinese to join in our school. We are looking forward to working with other local Chinese communities in Tampa Bay area.