"Students can learn the basic structure and information about the Chinese language," he explains. "That way, they have a good start. I hope it plants a seed."
He plans on teaching "pinyin," which is a system for transliterating Chinese ideograms into the Roman alphabet. Jia says learning those letters will help students pronounce the Chinese characters. "I also want to teach the numbers, and basic words and sentences," he adds.
He notes Chinese words do not change tense.
"Each word is yours. It's always the same," Jia explains. "You add another word to make it different."
This contrasts with learning English, in which tenses change. Chinese, he notes, sounds hard to pronounce, but proper usage of the tongue will convey the meaning of a word.
Jia realizes the 12-week time frame is short, so students will memorize idioms and poems to help them with learning. He emphasizes participants must talk in class in order to master the way Chinese is pronounced.
"And they need to practice so they can have the feel for the tongue and how (words) sound," Jia adds. "Especially at their age. They're pretty young, so it's very easy for them to follow (what is said).
"To memorize something, Americans have ways to remember things. The Chinese have things that help (students) remember very well."
These mnemonic devices also help with learning mathematics, Jia notes.
Social traditions and how to behave also are on the syllabus. While the young students learn the Chinese language, they'll also learn "some very useful social skills" and Chinese traditions of behavior.
There are a few good reasons to learn Chinese. For one, about 1/4 of the world's population is Chinese.
"I'd like to teach the kids (about Chinese) so by the time they grow up, they'll appreciate what they learn when they're young," Jia explains, adding it's a good skill to learn.
The students will need help from their parents in learning Chinese. "Otherwise, they will not make much progress."
If there's a demand for another class, he'll open up another one on another day.
* * *
SO YOU KNOW
Mandarin Chinese class
12-week course that will explore Chinese culture and tradition as well as expose students to the Chinese language
3:30-4:30 p.m. Thursdays beginning Thursday
Community Arts Center
Class is geared toward grades K through 5, but all students are welcome
Cost: $100/12-week session or $10 per session
Information and registration: instructor Xiuming Jia, (859) 936-7486 or firstname.lastname@example.org