The Secret Garden - a Hideaway for Mother Tongue Language Adventures
Behind a normal classroom door in Meridian Primary lies a Secret Garden, a magical hideaway where the learning of Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) comes alive.
No child can stay unmoved at the sight of the little mushroom stools, colourful tables and tall trees in this make-believe garden classroom. Their excited whispers and laughter fill the room even before they begin their lessons in this special space.
Mdm Anna Lim, Head of Department for MTL, was the one who came up with the idea of this Secret Garden. She was concerned that more children were struggling with the use of MTL, and wanted to make the learning of MTL a joyful experience for them.
“We wanted to cater to what our children enjoy and make the learning of languages fun for them. We believe that this can nurture a love for the language, and help them pick up the language for life.”
The Secret Garden houses activities that facilitate children’s understanding on the Chinese, Malay and Indian culture.
For lower primary students, the MTL teachers design learning activities in the Secret Garden that focus on speaking and listening. This provides opportunities for students to engage others using their MTL in an immersive and authentic environment. The space can also be easily transformed with props and backdrops for different activities.
Taking a step away from textbooks to experience Mother Tongue language through games and conversations.
For example, in one unit, our Primary 1 and 2 children start by learning about their favourite food items. In class, they acquire the relevant vocabulary and practise conversational sentence structures in their MTLs. Then, the children are then presented with missions to complete in their groups – from planning a birthday party to preparing for a picnic by the beach. Everyone loves sharing about their favourite food!
Our children working together as they buzz on ideas to complete their party planning mission.
To make the experience real, they get to purchase the food as well!
On that special day, the Secret Garden transforms into a bustling supermarket. The children’s eyes light up at the sight of the check-out counters with cash registers and money tokens. To top it off, an array of ‘food’ on display, including bowls of noodles and chicken rice handcrafted lovingly by our Parent Volunteers.
Realistic looking ‘food’ crafted with much love and creativity by our Parent Volunteers.
In ‘MPS Supermarket’, our Primary 1 and 2 students have the chance to learn from one another. The Primary 1 students play the consumers while the Primary 2 take on the role of shopkeepers. The children converse in their MTL throughout their shopping experience and discuss what they would need to purchase to complete their missions. Through this experience, the children do not only apply their language skills. The MTL teachers also remind them to observe the school values of teamwork, care, respect and responsibility in their interactions.
Our Primary 1 children realising that shopping can be tough when everything looks tempting and they have to stick to a budget.
Primary 2 children all ready to man the cash register and engage in sale conversation with the shoppers!
Primary 2 children working hard to persuade their customers to take the bundled discounts during the Flash Sale.
The children applying what they learn in Mathematics about counting ‘money’ as part of the authentic experience.
After they complete their missions, the children have a lot to share! As they describe the highlights of their day to their teachers and each other, they are applying what they have learnt – without even realising it.
Our MTL teachers enjoyed activities like these as well.
“We teachers find it satisfying when our children embrace the use of MTL,” shared Mdm Lim. “The Secret Garden is our promise to our children of the adventures and possibilities that learning of the languages can bring.”