Is Chinese tuition necessary? And when should you start Chinese tuition? These are the questions parents start asking when their child seems to be struggling with the mother tongue. 

Chinese is one of the second language subjects that many students in Singapore would have to take. As with all languages, Chinese it’s not an easy subject to study (even with Chinese tuition), and to score well in. Many students are not able to do well in the Chinese exams because of a lack of practice using the spoken language, as well as a lack of understanding about the Chinese language itself. Many Singaporeans do not speak Mandarin at home anymore. Moreover, because Singapore is a multi-racial society, many Singaporeans just prefer to use English when speaking to others. While this is understandable, the unfortunate side effect is the overall deterioration of our proficiency in Mandarin. 

However, Chinese is far from being an unimportant subject. We need Chinese to help with the points system when we take the PSLE examinations, or the O-level exams. And doing well in Chinese is not something that can be done overnight, not even with a top Chinese tutor. It’s not something that you can practice the 10 year series with and expect to score well. Attaining proficiency in Chinese requires patience, effort, and oftentimes Chinese tuition. 

It is not impossible for a student to do well in Chinese just by studying on their own. However, a Chinese tuition teacher, with significant experience, can make the process much faster and much more efficient. We have often seen students who were failing in the Chinese subject, only to outperform the rest of the classmates after finding an experienced Chinese tutor. (To be fair, there are also students that do not improve even with Chinese tuition). But having a Chinese tutor that understands your weaknesses, and helps you to customise your study plan, will allow you to see significant improvements in a short amount of time. 

At The Education Lab, our Chinese tuition curriculum is based on a modular lesson plan that can be adjusted to suit the learning style, content, and format for each individual student. Whether you’re in a 1-1 Chinese tuition class, or in a Very Small Group class, our teacher will be able to assess each student’s needs, and develop a specific study plan for each student. This is important, as this allows the Chinese tutor to adhere to an individual student’s learning style (whether it is reading books, or doing practice papers, or focusing on the student’s favorite theme). Ultimately, it allows us to help each student develop individualised exam strategies that will be useful to them in the exams. 

To answer our own hypothetical question in the title of this article — should you start Chinese tuition early? 

We believe the answer is a resounding “yes” (and we do not say this for all subjects). For the reasons given above, and because of the long-term strategic importance being proficient in Chinese, we believe that students would do well to get a head start in Chinese tuition. The good news is that once a student is scoring “A”s for Chinese, you really do not have to work so hard at it, as you do for the other subjects. Allowing you more precious time during the exams to focus your energies on other subjects, and hopefully do well in them too!

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