Language Art Fun are a series of classes run online for children, focussing on literacy through art, in target languages of Mandarin, Japanese, English or a combination of the three!
One of the great rewards of participating in the Le Le Chinese Reading Challenge, is that everyone who completes the challenge of reading at least 14 books in 14 days is able to take part in an online art class provided by Language Art Fun.
This post is a review of how we’ve found these Language Art Fun classes – hopefully you’ll see why we would highly recommend them!
Who is Language Art Fun?
Wendy Chen – a Native American based in Japan – is a talented artist and linguist. She grew up in California, holds a degree in graphic design, and has been teaching English in Japan for 15 years. She runs a business called Fun Art & English, for teaching Japanese children English.
Wendy also speaks fluent Mandarin. Recently there has been lots of demand for this skill, so she’s also started running online classes in Chinese too. We’ve been lucky enough to be part of five of these. Wendy also does classes in person, for those living in Japan (Denenchofu or along the Tokyo line).
What happens in class?
Each class takes 45 minutes to one hour. The classes are taught fully in Mandarin, and are really well organized. They’re appropriate for a wide range of ages, as they enable a lot of creativity and additional elements for the child to expand on depending on their strengths. One aspect I especially appreciate is there is usually a small dose of Chinese character writing slipped into the craft work. At the end of an hour, it’s amazing how much we manage to achieve.
They’re usually topical themed, with a literary element too. Our most recent classes have included making a Halloween Poster (October) Christmas Advent Calendar (December), and today was a Chinese New Year artwork (February). We do these classes as a family, all around a table, with the Zoom screen cast onto our TV screen. It’s something we all look forward to.
The classes are in the perfect time zone for Singapore.
Chinese New Year Art – simply stunning!
Christmas Advent Calendar Art – with Chinese words behind each date.
Face Craft – we wondered right up until the very end what the toilet rolls were going to be for!
Halloween craft – with a pumpkin that opens up to surprise inside its mouth!
Food truck – with all the food labelled in Chinese
What makes it great?
The charm of Wendy’s online craft classes is how calm, creative and encouraging she is throughout the class.
Prior to the class, very specific information about what to prepare is given (e.g. markers, coloured paper, water colours, oil pastels, sharpies, craft items, etc), but the exact topic remains a surprise, which really is joy for everyone. Even during the class itself, the children are not shown ‘the final product’ upfront, so we’re all taken on quite a journey to discover what we’re making.
Wendy has a great set up for making Zoom interactive, as she has two camera set up – one above her artwork, and one facing her, and she toggles seamlessly between the two lenses. She also engages the children in the class individually, asking them to share their work and gives them an opportunity to practice speaking in Chinese too.
The class theme have been varied. Some classes we’ve done have involved painting, others have involved gluing and oil pastels. There’s always been a clever link back either to the Le Le Chinese book series, or use of Chinese characters (such as making a food truck with labelled menu, or a Chinese new year greeting on a sign).
No matter what, the end result is stunning! As a mother, I’ve also really appreciated watching in on the classes, as Wendy has a highly practical use of art supplies, and has introduced us to a few brands of Japanese markers (like Prockey, by Mitsubishi Pencil) and acrylic paints which are now our go-to brands for stocking our art cupboard. She’s also shown us how to mix oil pastels, pens, and watercolours to get effects we’d never thought possible.
You’ll see from the few pictures below that my three children were able to enjoy different aspects of the classes – I have one child who loves to colour, another who loves to doodle, and younger one who simply likes to use one colour! It’s engaging for my 3 year old up to 8 year old simultaneously, although I would think the best age group is 5~6.
How to sign up?
You can visit the website (but it’s all in Japanese) or a better way is through Facebook. Wendy has a wide range of topics available, and can also tailor classes to suit your preferred language and learning outcomes.
The price for 45 minutes is 1000 yen per child (~SG13 or US$10 per class).
Alternatively, consider joining the 14 Day Le Le Reading Challenge, and you can be rewarded with one of Wendy’s classes for free! There are a few families in Singapore who are regular participants in the reading challenge, and it’s always lovely to see some familiar faces in the Zoom classes with Wendy.
The classes we’ve attended are fully conducted in Chinese. Wendy does other classes fully in Japanese or English, depending on the target language intended.
Comparison to other online classes in Chinese?
We’ve done a number of online classes now from different supplies, ranging from art and craft, through to drama, and music. Who would have imagined one year ago that our lives would go totally online?
If you’re interested in understanding other online offerings which we’ve tried and enjoyed, see my earlier posts with summarises different classes we’ve done: