Name of Recipient:
Mr. Zhang Ning
With English now being the main language spoken in Singapore, the emphasis on Mother Tongue has diminished over the last decade. The lack of usage has decreased Mandarin proficiency amongst Singaporeans, and many lose their ability to read and write Mandarin after they have left school.
Nonetheless, the language is still studied in Primary, Secondary, and Junior Colleges, which means that it won’t be forgotten by the younger generation just yet. So for students who need that bit of extra help in their Mandarin, or for high-achievers who strive to be even better at their Mother Tongue, Xian Dai Education Centre offers a series of Mandarin Chinese enrichment classes to fulfill their needs.
Established in 2001 as Xian Dai Tuition by Mr. Zhang Ning and his wife, Xian Dai Education Centre now offers a wide range of courses, ranging from their preparatory Hanyu Pinyin courses for five to six years old, to enrichment lessons for Junior College students studying Higher Chinese. Other courses include comprehension and composition classes, penmanship classes, communication and oral examination preparation classes, Mandarin acting classes, and more.
In Xian Dai Education Centre, there is one concrete policy that Mr. Zhang and his wife stands by: to never turn away a student. Mr. Zhang said, “We were very sure about this, that no matter that standard a student’s Mandarin is at, we will not reject them. While other tuition centres may screen their students before they are accepted, any student is welcome here.
“Our wish is to nurture students to discover their aptitude for Chinese, to remove their fear and psychological obstacles. To accomplish this, we incorporated lively and fresh teaching methods into the lessons, so that they can understand us. Once the students have discovered what we can do for them, more students started joining us as well.”
“Every student is different, and amongst the students we have, there are talented and failing students. But as they come here to learn and grow, they leave with good grades, better grades than they have expected. And we are happy and proud of that, because we know we have treated these students with patience, professionalism, and responsibility.”
When asked how he was introduced to the industry, Mr. Zhang chuckled and shared his story. “My wife is a teacher by training, and she wanted to establish a Mandarin tuition centre. Here in Singapore, somehow the students here have a great fear toward learning Mandarin Chinese, and we wanted to help our students overcome this fear toward the language.”
“For me, I was trained as an Engineer, but I was familiar with the education line as my parents were teachers as well. Someone was needed to handle the logistics and administrative side of things, so my wife and I, we established Xian Dai Education Centre together, with our first outlet in Sembawang.”
Since then, from the first Chinese tuition centre in the Sembawang area, Xian Dai Education Centre has gone on to conduct lessons for hundreds of students. Even as other competitor tuitions started opening up, Xian Dai has gone from strength to strength, and they have opened up a new outlet in NEX Shopping Centre in Serangoon, reaching a wider student base in Singapore.
In the years since Xian Dai was established, Mr. Zhang felt that he has learnt much during this time. “Everything, I had to learn from scratch. From the management of the centre to the management of the teachers, to cultivating the interest and confidence in the students. We learnt how to distinguish ourselves in the industry, and with word of mouth, you don’t need much packaging. Brand is one thing, but it is not everything.”
“It is important for us to be innovative and keep up with the times, to adapt to new changes. That way, we will remain competitive and not get left behind. But at the end of the day, what matters is that you keep yourself grounded.”
With an eye on the future, Mr. Zhang already has several plans in place for the coming years. He said, “The syllabus keeps changing, and we must adapt to the MOE’s (Ministry of Education) standards. We know we need to change with the times. To show that, we have started phone consultations with our students, and we have more changes coming along as well. We definitely hope to open more outlets someday, but for now, we would like to focus all our energy on bringing the highest level of service we can to our students.”
With the competitive education landscape in Singapore, more students will no doubt continue to seek help in their Mandarin education. With their non-discrimination towards students, professional teachers, and their proven track record, Xian Dai Education Centre will continue to be one of the most prominent pioneers in the Chinese tuition industry.
604 Sembawang Road #03-06/07
Sembawang Shopping Centre
T| 6886 9387
23 Serangoon Central #04-01A
NEX Shopping Centre