Star Student: Cici

Let's give a huge congratulations to Cici for winning the Star Student award! Aged just six years old, Cici has been taking classes with us since May 2020, having developed a passion for English learning from an early age. Today, Cici's mother shares with you their experiences and highlights from the Star Mentor program so far.

How has Cici approached English learning?

Cici is currently enrolled in a large class at a bilingual kindergarten. It is a good environment for learning English, as every class is co-taught by a foreign and local teacher. In addition to specialised courses and textbooks, such as Phonics and National Geographic, children also learn reading, drama and maths in English. 

Outside of school, Cici also has online and offline English classes. Cici is really interested in English and would like to be an English teacher when she grows up. She really enjoys the various English learning contents and methods of the Star Mentor program, which attract her interest and provide a real sense of achievement. 

What is Cici’s focus with online learning?

Cici has focused on two key areas – English Language Arts and English reading. This is an excellent opportunity to develop cultural understanding. 

For online courses, I care more about the opportunities for speaking output and real-life practice [as opposed to academic English skills]. 

Why is learning English at a young age important?

If you want to go overseas, no matter which course your child will study in the future, language will be the most important foundation. Whether it is subject learning or various activities inside and outside the school, the requirements for English will be very high. But if you wait until then and you still have to spend time on English when the academic pressure is already great, the pressure will be even higher. Additionally, language learning itself is a process of gradual accumulation, you will only see progress over a longer period of time. 

Therefore, I attach great importance to Cici’s English learning. I hope she can devote more time and effort to English when she has plenty of time now and her language learning ability is at her best, so that she can have more opportunities in the future. 

However, while I have always said that I attach great importance to Cici’s English learning, I have no strict expectations e.g. being able to read Harry Potter at the age of 7 or take the KET/PET test, etc. I believe that building interest and stamina are the most important. After all, learning is a marathon not a sprint. This will develop her resilience when she encounters difficulties studying at school and university, enabling her to overcome higher challenges and persevere. 

How has Cici progressed since joining the Star Mentor program?

This is the year when Cici has made the most progress in English. In addition to the obvious improvement in speaking and reading abilities, she has gradually started to learn English writing. 

In terms of reading, Cici has significantly improved her reading comprehension and discussion skills. After reading an article, she can now answer reading comprehension questions related to the storyline. 

In addition to reading, the most obvious improvement this year was that Cici started learning writing. Maybe it sounds surprising that kindergarten children can actually write. But in fact, it was not difficult for her to take the step from speaking to writing. 

Cici actually started writing for the first time in school, and the teacher would ask them to write three sentences a week. Her tutor then guided Cici to start with the words and write them down one by one. Slowly in this way, she started to write sentences and paragraphs.

What makes the Star Mentor program special?

From May last year to now [April 2021], Cici has also been studying in the Star Mentor project for nearly a year. I think this personalised one-to-one model is very good and unique. 

In terms of content, in addition to themed small lesson packages, such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “The Wizard of Oz”, etc., tutors also prepare content targeted to the needs of children and parents. 

As most tutors are university students, they also have the advantages of being able to connect with young people. Cici’s tutor Alex is from the UK and is currently a student at the University of Edinburgh. He is very dedicated and also very good at communication. For example, he will share feedback from Cici’s classes and future learning plans with me to discuss. When I mentioned that Cici may be interested in popular science topics, he went to find some articles and prepare specialised exercises for Cici. This model gives us more autonomy and flexibility in learning, and can really adapt to children’s needs.

Let’s hear some congratulations from Cici’s mentor!

I want to say a huge well done to Cici for being awarded Star Student! Over the past year Cici has read The Wizard of Oz, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, learnt about different countries, written her own short story and learnt hundreds of new words! She is always positive in class and very confident in asking questions. No matter if she is reading, spelling or having a conversation, Cici is incredibly enthusiastic and her English level is definitely beyond her age! Well done Cici!

Alex

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