With Chinese as the primary medium of teaching and communication in Macau, the Foundation believes that developing literacy in Chinese is crucial to a student’s success in school. The “GEG Chinese Literacy Development Scheme”, which began as a three-year pilot project in 2016, was initiated with the objective of supporting children, parents and schools on Chinese language development. Due to the success of the pilot, the Scheme has begun its second phase in 2020 for another three years, which will involve a collaboration with the University of Saint Joseph’s Bishop Domingos Lam Centre for Research in Education, with the objective of enabling the Scheme to eventually take root in Macau, with continuing research and further implementation within the kindergarten system in Macau.
The main pillars of the Scheme are Education & Training, and Research.
Education & Training
Two seed schools participated in the pilot Scheme, with teacher training conducted for all kindergarten teachers at the two schools. At least four other seed schools have so far been recruited to join the Scheme’s second phase. During the pilot Scheme, K3 children, who were identified as lagging behind in Chinese language acquisition, received small group intervention and achieved noticeable improvements. The pilot Scheme also conducted a “Parent Seminar Series” comprising three age-appropriate sessions for the three kindergarten grades at the two seed schools, which focused on helping parents build their child’s language skills outside of the classroom.
The Foundation hopes that a Macau-wide language corpus for kindergarten can be developed in the coming years, together with a refined screening tool and an intervention manual for teachers.
GEG Chinese Literacy Development Scheme Facebook page:
Professor Cheng Pui Wan is the principal investigator to the Scheme.
Professor Cheng is Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Educational Psychology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and serves also as a consultant to Pathways Foundation Limited. At the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Professor Cheng’s teaching areas include psychology of learning, specific learning disabilities, special educational needs and special education, and classroom management. Professor Cheng had been involved in numerous research grants and projects, most of which dealt with literacy difficulties, specific learning difficulties, psychology and pedagogy in handwriting and learning Chinese, and particularly in the areas of early intervention.
Bishop Domingos Lam Centre for Research in Education
University of Saint Joseph, Macau
Colégio de St.Rosa De Lima(SC)
Macau Baptist College
Our Lady of Fatima Girls’ School
The Workers' Children High School, Macau
Escola Fu Luen
Escola Dom João Paulino
Basic Teacher Training
The Scheme’s Project Team, comprising academics and specialists in their respective fields in literacy acquisition and development, conducted basic teacher training for all kindergarten teachers in all participating seed schools during the pilot phase of the Scheme. Beginning in the second phase of the Scheme, Macau-wide teacher training sessions are being conducted with accreditation from the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau, with training hours qualifying for Continuing Education Credits (Category 1) for participants.
Advanced Teacher Training
The Scheme’s Project Team also supervised and assisted the seed schools to implement small group intervention, targeting K3 children who have been screened as being at-risk of delayed Chinese language development and providing the seed schools with school-based review of their syllabuses and supplementary teaching materials, together with suggestions on small group intervention design and implementation.
The Project Team will continue to conduct progress reviews during implementation of the small group intervention exercises with teachers, both before, during and after intervention sessions, so as to assist teachers in continuing to develop and evolve their teaching methods, improve course design and highlight difficulties encountered by particular students and related methods of resolution.
A Teachers’ Conference was held in April 2019 to share the results of the pilot Scheme with school administrators and teachers across Macau. The Conference was attended by representatives from the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau as well as about 200 teachers from 25 schools in Macau. Teachers from the two seed schools shared their teaching experiences and how they had witnessed the improvements of students in both normal and intervention groups after participating in the Scheme. The teaching materials developed and used in the small group intervention were also put on display.
Macau-wide Teacher Training
Starting in the second phase of the Scheme, the Project Team, in collaboration with the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau, has begun offering basic teacher training open to all kindergarten teachers in Macau. The training is offered over two full-day sessions (16 hours), and teachers participating in the training will earn hours towards teachers’ Continuing Education Credits (Category 1).
Both sessions A & B had already been offered in November 2019. The same sessions scheduled for March 2020 are currently postponed.
The Project Team had devised a short one-on-one screening tool for kindergarten children in order to assess their Chinese language proficiency and, as importantly, gauge their proficiency level relative to their peers. With assistance from school administrators and teachers, these one-on-one screenings are done towards the end of each academic year in order to establish school-based benchmarks for the different age groups.
This screening is particularly important for those graduating from K2 as it is used to identify students whose Chinese language proficiency is lagging their peer group, and therefore deemed to be “at risk” of Chinese language acquisition delay. These students are then encouraged to participate in small group intervention during their K3 academic year, with the hope that the intervention sessions will enable them to improve their Chinese language proficiency during their last year of kindergarten, enabling them to improve their proficiency in line with their peer group before they begin their primary education.
It is hoped that under the Research component of the second phase of this Scheme, a simplified and improved screening tool can be devised in due course to enable teachers to be able to conduct such screening in class.
Small Group Intervention
Small group intervention is conducted during term time for K3 students, identified as “at risk” of Chinese language development delay, with their progress being tracked and monitored.
The pilot Scheme’s tracking of such results has shown noticeable improvements in children after one year of receiving regular intervention. Children who received small group intervention were able to catch up to their same age peers, and the skills they learned from the small group sessions could be transferred to large group classes.
Enhancing Language Learning
The Scheme uses evidence-based practice. Based on the school-based curriculum for participating seed schools, the professional team analyses the language ability of different age groups of their kindergarten students, and helps to build a language corpus for the particular schools so this can be used to enhance the kindergarten language curriculum. Doing so enables teachers to re-evaluate their curriculum, and make appropriate adjustments so that they can systematically teach Chinese language, and thus help students build a strong Chinese language foundation.
Feedback from Teachers
• Kindergarten students have great potential. As long as we (teachers) are willing to put in a little bit of effort, you will see a great change, so do not underestimate your ability.
• I believe that every seed teacher who volunteered to run the intervention groups in the Scheme did so as they want to help students with weaker language abilities.
• I hope that more teachers will join so they can benefit more students
• The intervention groups have been able to help weaker students make significant improvement and made me understand its philosophy.
• Young children develop language a difference pace. The intervention groups are very effective in helping those who are slower to catch up.
• The intervention groups have had a positive impact on the students’ learning motivation. The students now actively participate in both their normal classes as well as in the small groups.
• Prior to intervention, the students knew less words, were slower to say sounds and lacked confidence. After receiving intervention, all aspects of their language skills had improved, were more self-confident, more motivated to learn and evidently participated more actively in class.
• Through participating in the intervention groups, the students were able to experience the joy of language learning and took interest in learning words in daily life.
• The teacher training improved my skills in teaching small groups as well as large classes.
• In the large class setting, it is harder to cater to the needs of weaker students. In the intervention groups, teachers are able to target their weaknesses and design appropriate educational games to enable them to learn through play and at the same time increase the learning motivation and interest.
Parents’ Seminars Series
Support and education within the family can have a lasting impact on a child’s learning and development. The “Parents’ Seminars” are aimed at helping parents build their child’s language skills outside the classroom. The Parents’ Seminar Series comprises age-appropriate sessions for the three kindergarten grades conducted for parents at the participating schools. The seminars introduce parents to the appropriate developmental language level expected for their child’s age, as well as methods on how parents can also be involved in helping their child grasp language concepts and boost language skills in everyday life. Demonstrations, role play and where possible, “live practice sessions” to include students are held during the seminars to enable parents to better understand and grasp the concepts covered.
Target Audience : Parents of K1 Students
Enhancing oral language
This seminar focuses on how children transition from oral language to reading printed language. Parents will be shown how they can play a role in helping their children enhance their oral vocabulary at home.
Target Audience : Parents of K2 Students
Shared Reading: Tips and strategies
This seminar focuses on how to nurture reading in children. Parents will also be able practice the skills taught during the seminar and are provided with tips on how to select appropriate books for young children.
Target Audience : Parents of K3 Students
Preparing to read and write: Fun with reciting and reading
This seminar focuses on how to enhance children’s recitation and writing skills to help them prepare for the increased language demands when they enter primary school.
During parent seminars, booklists recommending age-appropriate picture books are given out so that parents can use them for shared-reading time with their children. Book Accession Numbers for each of the books that are available for loan from Macau’s public libraries are also provided.
Apart from the Parents’ Seminars, the Scheme will be producing videos to teach parents how they can use shared reading as a fun and engaging activity to develop print awareness (pre-reading skills) and at the same time enable them to play an active role in developing their child’s literacy skills outside of the classroom.
Feedback from Parents
• The Parents’ Seminar has enabled me to understand how I can communicate and explain everyday phrases to my child.
• The Parents’ Seminar has taught me how to engage in shared reading with my child. Apart from watching the demonstration, I was able to practice it at the venue.
• The Parents’ Seminar helped me find ‘joy’ in shared reading and taught me how to get my child interested in reading.
• The speaker made everything very interesting and used videos and pictures to help us better understand.
• After participating in the Scheme, there is obvious improvement in my child’s word recognition ability, and he developed an interested in reading books.
• My daughter is more able to express herself after joining the Scheme. She now will proactively ask about words she does not recognize and like to go to the library. Each evening she will select a book to read with us.
• The Scheme has helped my child recognize more Chinese characters. My child will proactively read out the words he sees on billboards.
• My child loves the Scheme. He will share the new characters he has learned at school with me when he comes home.
• The Scheme uses a fun approach to teaching. As children learn words through playing the games, it increases their learning motivation.
• The information from the Scheme is very interesting and can meet the needs of my daughter.
Beginning in the second phase of the Scheme, a collaboration agreement has been reached with the University of Saint Joseph’s Bishop Domingos Lam Centre for Research in Education (the “Centre”), in research towards the development of a Macau-wide Kindergarten language corpus. It is also hoped that a screening tool can also be developed for teachers to enable a more streamlined process in identifying children at-risk of delayed Chinese language acquisition. The collaboration will eventually incorporate all teacher training under the Centre, enabling the Scheme to take root in Macau as a sustainable project beyond the Foundation’s funding period, enabling adoption of the Scheme in more kindergartens in Macau.
GEG Chinese Literacy Development Scheme - Part 1
With Chinese as the primary medium of teaching and communication in Macau, the Foundation believes that developing literacy in Chinese is crucial to a student’s success in school. The "GEG Chinese Literacy Development Scheme” in 2016 was initiated with the objective of supporting children, parents and schools on Chinese language development for kindergarten-aged children based on evidence-based practice, and providing early intervention for children lagging behind in Chinese language acquisition. The Scheme conducted a “Parents’ Seminar Series” comprising age-appropriate sessions for the three kindergarten grades, focusing on helping parents build their child’s language skills outside the classroom.
GEG Chinese Literacy Development Scheme - Part 2
Under the "GEG Chinese Literacy Development Scheme”, students from the Scheme’s participating kindergartens were screened each year, with K3 children who were identified as lagging behind in the Chinese language being invited to receive small group intervention. The results from the intervention exercises had shown noticeable improvements in these children after having received regular intervention for one academic year. Children who received small group intervention were able to catch up to their same age peers in their Chinese language abilities, and the language skills they learned from the small group sessions could be transferred to their regular classes. Aside from their language skills being improved, results also showed that these children became more self-confident, more motivated to learn and evidently participated more actively in class.
The Three Basic Foundations of Reading
Language learning begins with reading. Parents reading with their children will not only nurture their interest in reading, but also helps to improve their vocabulary and reading ability. The three basic foundations of reading, text awareness, spoken vocabulary and story structure, shall be reinforced during shared reading; research has indicated that a child’s ability to read correlate positively to their academic success. Shared reading is an important stage of your child’s development.
The Four Tricks of Shared Reading
To encourage and motivate children to read, it is important that parents start with shared reading. There are four simple “tricks” to shared reading:
Query (問): through asking questions to pique the interest of the child, and to also allow the child space to think, recall and anticipate the story’s development, and enabling the child to express her thoughts;
Compliment (讚): encourage the child’s behaviour and attitude through constant affirmation and appreciation of the child’s participation;
Expand (充): “fill in the banks”, to help build the child’s vocabulary, and learn to express their thoughts; and
Practise (練): verbalising different sentence structures, and to strengthen what they are learning through repetition.