It has been almost five months since the Minnesota JingLun Chinese School (MJCS), a new facility school in Woodbury, opened its door and welcomed the first five classes of students in September 2007.
Kids as young as four years old to high school seniors gather at Woodbury High School on Saturdays to learn Chinese, math and drawing.
MJCS, a non profit educational institution, was founded in 2007. It was initiated by a group of Chinese parents who are very motivated and interested in promoting Chinese language and culture, and providing high quality Chinese instruction for both Chinese speakers and non-Chinese speakers in their own neighborhood.
As the Chinese speaking population in Woodbury increases and interest in learning Chinese among the general public increases, so is the demand for high quality Chinese instruction. Minnesota JingLun Chinese School came into being to meet these needs.
Chinese is one of the most difficult languages to learn. Even kids who grow up in the Chinese-speaking families in the U.S. have difficulties to master the language.
In order to provide the most effective way to teach and learn Chinese characters so that students will be able to read independently as soon as possible, MJCS selected ZhongHuaZiJing (Chinese Character Canon) as the teaching/learning materials for Chinese speaking students.
According to the publisher's Web site (www.miktamchinese.com), students can "Learn All Chinese Characters with One Poem."
ZhongHuaZiJing is indeed a unique text book. The whole text is a poem composed of 4,000 characters which covers 99 percent of modern Chinese and covers 50 fields of knowledge, like a mini-encyclopedia.
The book does not have any characters repeated and rhythms through out the whole book. Student can recognize the characters in the rhymed text more easily like singing songs.
After learning this book in a relatively short period of time, from six months to three years depending on the time and intensity, students will be able to recognize the most commonly used Chinese characters and be able to read independently while enjoy the rich cultural background and stories behind each sentence.
Currently, four classes are offered for Chinese speaking students using the ZhongHuaZiJing curriculum. A separate class is offered for non-Chinese speaking students aged 4 to 7 who want to learn Chinese in a fun and useful way.
The focus is on listening and speaking Mandarin Chinese. This class uses Better Chinese (www.betterchinese.com) as the curriculum.
After Chinese lessons, students can also take math class. The math classes are based on Singapore Math curriculum (www.Singaporemath.com). Students are placed in different level groups according to their own abilities.
A drawing class comes after the math class. The school will also consider offer other classes such as chess and dancing if there is interest.
When the Spring semester begins in February, MJCS plans to add two new classes. One of them is a Mandarin Chinese class for non-Chinese-speaking adults.
The class aims at training beginners to communicate effectively in Chinese. It will be held on Saturdays beginning Feb. 2 through June 7 from 11:45 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. The tuition fee is $150.
The other new class is the Intensive ZiJing Class for 4-7 year old with Chinese speaking family background.
MJCS is currently recruiting teachers who are experienced in teaching Chinese, math and drawing. The school is also looking for volunteers who have knowledge and expertise in managing non-profit organizations.
Any support from the local community and businesses to the school is very much needed and appreciated.
Walk in inquiries are welcome. School hours are Saturdays 9:45 a.m. to 1:35 p.m. at Woodbury High School, Room 219.