Okami, I think you said it… songs are a major part of the kindergarten curiculum, but many do not know how to use it properly.
As for comparing kindergarten in the west and kindergarten in Taiwan, it’s incomparable. Kindergarten at home is learning about life skills, social interaction, going to school, the world around them… there is very little focus on cognitive learning, more on psychomotor and affective learning.
Meanwhile in Taiwan, kindergarten is like cramming for grade 1. See what they can do and load them on. Yes, ‘da ban’ are very capable of writing, even as EFL students. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for them nor should it be pushed. Taiwan English Kindegartens need more fun and less school work - period. They push the students enough and provide plenty of cognitive learning, they don’t need to have more opportunities with paragraph writing.
Let me put it this way, think back to YOUR kindergarten years or the earliest you can remember, what do you remember? Do you remember spelling tests? Do you remember phonics lessons? You remember fun. You remember teachers, friends and FUN acitivities -like stories, songs, etc. That’s what is important.
I teach older kids now (junior high), and they always ask me, “Sir, I know this, why I am doing this? I am too lazy to bother.” Well, I explain to them, it’s about learning life skills - completing tasks, working hard (goal setting), not procrastinanting, good study skills, etc… school is more than just the material, but how to use it and grow as person.
I taught kindergarten and Grade 1 in NA for 3 years and 5 years of kindergarten in Taiwan, and I think both systems can learn from each other. But writing paragarphs b/c they can is not the best idea. They have plenty of time to practice writing in elementary school. Teachers should try to think of other methods to improve their students’ English. Like you said DB, “Speaking is the most important thing in ESL.” Yes, some writing is good for reinforcment, and learning, but keep it low.
Songs and games are good, but much too often it is used ineffectively. What they need in Taiwan kindegartens are more reading of picture books. BUY MORE BOOKS - SCHOOLS!!! That is how you get your kids to improve English - use stories as the base and build your lessons around it.