Parents are increasingly interested in choosing a bilingual programme at an international school for their young children. Does the programme you are considering for your child have these five features?
Chinese is one of the four national languages in Singapore and the second most spoken language in the world, while English, is the world’s most spoken language. Learning to speak both Chinese and English proficiently helps expat children from Chinese-speaking countries and non-native backgrounds prepare to participate in today’s global economy. Bilingualism boosts academic performance and grades plus gives learners cultural empathy and appreciation. Research has shown that learning languages also improves brain function, memory and problem-solving, all of which are essential for academic and professional success. So you’re convinced about going the bilingual route for your child’s education, but how do you choose a bilingual programme that will really achieve linguistic proficiency? When selecting a high-quality Chinese-English Bilingual Programme, parents should look out for five key characteristics.
Five Characteristics of an Effective Bilingual Programme
From the curriculum to the classroom environment, these five bilingual programme traits make all the difference when it comes to a high-quality education for your children.
- Curriculum with Equal Instruction
Children gain fluency when they learn two languages equally. Therefore, to qualify as genuinely bilingual, the programme should offer equal instruction in both Chinese and English languages. The immersive bilingual instruction at a native level helps children understand concepts and master nuances in both languages. In addition, a truly bilingual programme offers children opportunities to appreciate each culture and its people, too.
- Holistic Education Approach
The IB Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) is renowned for its transdisciplinary, inquiry-based learning approach. Choosing a Chinese-English Bilingual Programme that is based on the IB PYP means children study a variety of subjects and expand their vocabulary as they learn about different concepts. When young children learn languages through hands-on, engaging and play-based activities, they are more likely to enjoy learning.
- Bilingual Teachers
An immersive bilingual programme should be led by bilingual teachers and teaching assistants. With this feature, children receive consistent instruction in both languages. The teachers and children can communicate and develop an effective, positive working relationship that nurtures and promotes learning in all settings.
- Differentiated Learning
To meet the educational needs of each unique child, a successful bilingual programme will offer personalised or differentiated instruction. First, teachers evaluate each child’s strengths, academic skills and interests. Then, the teachers will create a personalised approach to support the progress of each child. For instance, creative students may be encouraged to make Chinese characters out of Lego or straw connectors, or kinesthetic students could enjoy an active game. Teachers can also design activities based on the level of linguistic proficiency of the child.
- Nurturing Classroom Environment
The ideal classroom environment for a bilingual programme is a comfortable space that encourages self-expression and promotes learning. The desks and chairs are arranged in a visually pleasing way that gives all children access to the teachers, content and materials. Also, bulletin boards and wall decor should feature colours, textures and content that stimulate the senses and reinforce vocabulary and concepts in both languages. In a nurturing environment, children feel comfortable, connected, safe and engaged as they learn.
Parents Love The OWIS Chinese-English Bilingual Programme
One World International School (OWIS) offers the Chinese-English Bilingual Programme for students in Primary Grades at the Nanyang campus and the class has been growing in popularity since its launch in 2020.
In fact, parents at OWIS Suntec, the new campus of the school, have started asking for this popular programme, too!
Parents love that the Chinese-English Bilingual Programme is designed to give equal weightage to both languages and that the lessons are always interesting because it is aligned with the IB PYP. At OWIS, teachers and teaching assistants speak both languages fluently as they support each child’s holistic and bilingual education. In the classroom and through real-world contexts, children form connections to their learning in both Chinese and English, expand their vocabulary and gain an appreciation for both cultures.