Mandarin Chinese Program Opening in Mt. Kisco

by Tom Auchterlonie

Starting next week, parents who want their kids to learn Mandarin Chinese will have a new, local option.

The Chinese Language Program (CLP), a 3-year-old educational group founded by two Scarsdale moms, will expand by opening a northern Westchester branch. It will be located in Mount Kisco, at the Methodist Church, with classes on Sundays and Tuesdays.

The desire to open a branch in Mount Kisco, which will serve northern Westchester residents, came as a result of demand from families who made the trips to Scarsdale.

Joanne Teoh, co-founder of the program, noted the village’s geographic proximity for area.

“So this was the center, Mount Kisco, she said. In addition, one of the teachers lives in Chappaqua and will be managing the Mount Kisco program when they can’t be there.

Teoh, along with co-founder Wanna Zhong, each have Chinese ancestry, she is by way of Malaysia and Taiwan, and her partner is but knew the Cantonese dialect as her first language.

The desire to start a Mandarin language program came when Teoh and Zhong felt that their existing options were not enough.

“We’re moms, we have young children and we wanted to have this for our children because there was nothing available,” she said.

She added, “The only thing that was available was Saturday mornings and they were teaching in a very traditional manner, which is pretty much how I was raised.”

Teoh said they put their children through a traditional Saturday program, which she felt does not excite kids enough.

“They were fine when they were really little but as they started to get older, [they asked] ‘Why do I have to do this? Why can’t I go play baseball and why can’t I be’ – you know, they didn’t want to do it, either. So we said, how can we resolve this?”

The solution was to create a weekday program that is after school and with an engaging curriculum, including learning poetry, drama and role playing. Structured support, such as homework, is also included; the CLP recommends learning Mandarin twice a week.

Zhong noted that an advantage of the program is that they are both moms, which helps parents understand what their learning kids are going through. Teoh said they offer support to families who are learning the language, including resoruces that can be used outside of class.

The interest in learning Mandarin has come amid headlines in recent years of a economically growing China. Teoh noted that learning Mandarin can help people in their careers.

“If they had the language, they would find a,” she said, and also noted that people of different cultural backgrounds have shown an interest in it.

The CLP will start offering classes next week, for ages that range from infants in a Mommy and Me program to 13 year olds. To learn more about the program, you can go to

Chappaqua-Mt. Kisco Patch

September 4, 2012

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