Check out our guide to bilingual schools in Singapore to see what’s available at the international and preschool level!
Looking for a bilingual international school or preschool? Bilingual education is a huge perk of living in a multicultural, multilingual country like Singapore. In addition to its obvious cross-cultural benefits, being bilingual has been shown to have massive social and cognitive benefits as well. Studies have shown that people who speak multiple languages have better attention spans and multi-tasking abilities, starting from as young as seven months of age! It can also help stave off dementia and keep minds sharp as people age. Both local and international schools here in Singapore are renowned for their language programs, most notably in Mandarin, but each school takes a different approach.
Some offer immersion programs, in which children are solely exposed to a language like Mandarin. In another variations, children have two co-teachers speaking different languages, and interact equally with both throughout the day. Particularly at the preschool level, this is an effective way for emerging speakers to absorb different languages just as they’re beginning to speak themselves. Children can also take dedicated language classes, or might take some classes in English and others in Mandarin. We’ve rounded up our picks of bilingual school programs in Singapore, at both the international school and preschool level to give you an idea of the vast variety of programs out there so you can hopefully find the right fit for your little one!
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As one of the early pioneers in bilingual education, CIS offers two bilingual programmes in Chinese-English (the first of its kind in Singapore when it launched in 2014) and French-English. CIS’s aim is for students to become fluent communicators and understand the culture behind those languages, so kids become bilingual, biliterate and bicultural. The programme is truly immersive, as each class has two qualified teachers – one native English speaker and one native Chinese/French speaker – and instruction is fully aligned to the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP). Students will have equal exposure to both languages with classes in English one day and Chinese/French the next. Plus, the school ensures that students are taught in both languages with no translation or repetition in topics.
Recently, CIS has extended new opportunities for each bilingual programme:
- Chinese-English bilingual students now have the chance to extend their Chinese literacy through these secondary bilingual courses:
– Grades 7-8 Maths (starting August 2021)
– Grades 7-12 Chinese Language & Literature
– Grades 11-12 Theory of Knowledge in Chinese.
- The French-English bilingual programme at the Lakeside campus will expand with classes offered in Grades 1-5 in August 2021.
The Chinese-English bilingual programme is available at both CIS campuses for students in pre-kindergarten to Grade 6.
The French-English bilingual programme is available at Lakeside campus only for students in Grades 1-5.
Canadian International School
7 Jurong West Street 41, Singapore 649414, Tel: (+65) 6467 1732
371 Tanjong Katong Road, Singapore 437128, Tel: (+65) 6345 1573
If you want your child to get better in Chinese and English while enjoying the engaging learning model of the IB-PYP, OWIS’s Chinese-English Bilingual Programme is the right choice! The school has specially designed this immersive programme for young students from Grade 1 to Grade 5 (between 6-11 years old). Aligned with the IB-PYP, it leverages all the best things about the learning approach: inquiry-based learning, transdisciplinary themes, collaborative project work, creative activities and much more! In a small class size, your child will receive equal instructions in both Chinese and English from an experienced bilingual teacher with the support of a bilingual teaching assistant. Students will deepen their knowledge of Maths, Units of Inquiry, PE, Music, Art and more by learning concepts in both languages. You’ll be amazed at how this truly bilingual environment will advance your child’s existing speaking, reading, writing and listening proficiency in Chinese and English! And importantly, they will also broaden their appreciation of Chinese culture and literature.
SJI International prides themselves in a culturally and linguistically diverse community. In Elementary School, Mandarin language and Chinese culture lessons take place daily for all classes while Early Years students are joined by a full-time Mandarin-speaking assistant who can support and continue the children’s language development throughout the day. Beginner-level Spanish is another language option for Grades 5 and 6. SJI International teachers immerse the children in the target language and conduct various interactive activities to include not just the language itself, but also cultural and literary aspects.
In High School, SJI International runs a parent-funded Home Language Programme. While the High School curriculum includes Chinese, Tamil, Malay, Indonesian, Hindi and Spanish, the Home Language Programme is for students whose languages are not currently taught as part of the mainstream curriculum, including Japanese, Korean, French, Thai, Vietnamese, German, Russian and Italian. The programme is made for students who have a strong cultural connection to another language, or those who are studying an MOE Mother Tongue-in-lieu language. The aim of this programme is to provide a pathway for students through to the IB Diploma, and in most cases, to study two first languages so they can achieve a Bilingual Diploma. What sets their Home Language Programme apart from those of other international schools is that these lessons are integrated into the curriculum day for two lessons per week, instead of taking place after school like a co-curricular activity.
St. Joseph’s Institution International, 490 Thomson Road, Singapore 298191, www.sji-international.com.sg
Dulwich believes that learning another language is not only highly stimulating for mind development at an early age, but is also a great way to develop a deeper awareness of and appreciation for other cultures. The school caters to students at all levels from complete beginners to native speakers, tailoring classes accordingly. From the age of two, children in DUCKS (Dulwich College Kindergarten School) benefit from being exposed to Mandarin throughout the day, courtesy of the Chinese co-teacher who works in partnership with the class teacher to deliver a dual language programme. Dual Language learning is a fundamental part of the student development.
Their approach is based on a range of recognised theory about how children learn language and has been developed through in-depth academic and action research by the school’s own leaders and teachers. The programme exposes young learners to English and Mandarin in their natural learning context throughout the day, rather than just through formal language opportunities. By providing an environment rich in learning opportunities, with one teacher focusing on English and another on Mandarin, kids gain the confidence to use language with meaning.
Dulwich College (Singapore), 71 Bukit Batok West Avenue 8, Singapore 658966,
IFS is an international school open to all nationalities, including families who are not native French speakers! In order to develop bilingualism in French and English, IFS has implemented language support programmes that are included in the school fees and tailor-made to each student’s needs. For over 50 years, with their passionate teachers, IFS has put the success of children in all their academic, social and personal development at the centre of its teaching philosophy. The school fosters student’s sensory, motor, cognitive and social development, awakening students’ personalities. Students also enjoy world-class sports facilities and motor skills equipment to aid physical development. IFS Maternelle provides a warm, safe, nurturing, multilingual environment for children aged 2-5, while IFS Élémentaire combines practical skills (observation, manipulation, experimentation, real-life activities) with abstract skills, gradually leading to more complex knowledge acquisition.
International French School (Singapore), 3000 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, Singapore 569928, www.ifs.edu.sg
The centrally located Invictus International School Centrium campus is home to a bilingual primary school beginning from Grade 1 Prep (ages 5-6) to Grade 6 (ages 11-12). Students are immersed in daily Chinese language and literary lessons, with Art, Music and even PE taught in Chinese! English is still the primary medium of instruction during Mathematics and Science lessons. The school also offers supplementary lessons to students who are new to Chinese in order to offer the best learning experience possible. You’ll find value in their small class sizes, with a teacher to student ratio of up to 1:25, and Integrated Chinese lessons which include speech and drama, cultural elements and reading programmes! Did we mention Swimming and Wushu classes are part of the PE programme too?
Invictus International School, 320 Serangoon Road, #06-01, Singapore 218108, www.invictus.edu.sg/centrium
Blue Lion Preschool is a contemplative preschool (the first of its kind in Singapore!) with an exemplary programme rooted in a Buddhist approach to education. They look to the Asian heroes, stories and wisdom values within to offer an informed and analytical perspective, while being contemplative and respectful, considerate of the collective in a bilingual and immersive learning environment. On top of the alternative approach, Blue Lion Preschool excels at both structured and interdisciplinary project styles across subjects like English, Chinese and Math alongside of arts and natural sciences so kids can embrace whole learning.
BrainFit School House is a bilingual brain-based preschool that uses a proven science-based personalised approach, including immersive English and Mandarin brain-based curriculums to develop bilingualism in a fun way! They’re the trusted brain fitness specialists in Singapore since 2001, with programmes validated by research from Harvard, Stanford and MIT universities. Every student will get a personalised brain profiling and development of essential pre-academic cognitive skills including memory, attention span and processing speed. This way, students can accelerate their academic results by strengthening the roots of learning!
BrainFit School House, 18 Ah Hood Road, Hiap Hoe Building, #04-51, Singapore 329983, Tel: (+65) 6737 3511, brainfit.com.sg
Josiah Montessori is a leading Montessori preschool in Singapore that provides quality childcare and infant care services for children aged 2 months to 6 years old. Their programme is bilingual (English and Mandarin) and their curriculum, ‘The Josiah Way’, is a blend of Montessori-based learning alongside a musical art program wholly developed by their founders. Teachers pay great attention in designing a safe and aesthetically pleasing learning environment that’s in line with the Montessori pedagogy to facilitate every child’s learning. Josiah Montessori provides the utmost customised care with the notion that every child is unique, so they cater to their needs individually by working closely together with parents. In turn, children are able to excel in academia and become creative and independent learners!
House on the Hill is a family-run group of preschools in Singapore that passionately advocates for the Montessori Method. Mandarin has been an essential aspect of the curriculum since House on the Hill was founded in 2012, and it’s taught through a bespoke programme. Every student has a customised learning journey and teachers work hand-in-hand with parents to ensure that their academic goals are being achieved. We love that there’s lots of hands-on learning (sometimes outside!) and a focus on key skills of listening, speaking and communicating clearly, and writing. Mandarin is taught by highly qualified, native Mandarin speaking teachers through a variety of games, activities, and cultural experiences so that learning is both fun and educational for kids. Teachers use educational tools such as flashcards and storybooks to teach reading, along with tools such as sandpaper strokes and constant practice to impart writing skills. Children are also exposed to drama, games, rhymes, chants, songs, music and movement to deepen their understanding of the elements of the Chinese language and culture.
House on the Hill Mount Sophia, 33 Mount Sophia, Singapore 228481
House on the Hill Balmoral, 2H Balmoral Crescent, Singapore 259887
House on the Hill Pasir Panjang, 396 Pasir Panjang Road, #02-01, Singapore 118733
Parents rave about this cosy preschool in Singapore! PMI follows the theory of Multiple Intelligences, striving to nurture and develop all eight of a child’s intelligences (such as music, math, verbal or interpersonal) to the next level. Individual strengths are celebrated, as every child is seen as intelligent in his or her own area. With an approximate 50/50 split between local and international kids, there’s a strong Reggio-inspired bilingual programme that incorporates Mandarin into activities throughout the day. PMI Preschool by the Woods is the latest exciting addition to the PMI family – imagine the same great bilingual programme with a sprawling outdoor space near MacRitchie Reservoir for kids to explore!
Register your child in May and June 2021 and you’ll receive a full waiver of the $500 registration fee! Plus, your child will receive a set of 3 rhyme books by school founder Dr Khoo Kim Choo as well as her latest book, hot from the press – The Reading Tree.
PMI Preschool by the Woods, 34 Westlake Avenue, Westlake Garden (Singapore 574245), [email protected], Tel: (+65) 6811 7179 / 6259 9661,
With hundreds of schools to choose from in Singapore, there’s no way we could cover every single program out there! Other strong bilingual schools we’d recommend checking out:
Dulwich College (Singapore)
EtonHouse International School
GESS International School
Global Indian International School
Hillside World Academy
Singapore American School
Sir Manasseh Meyer International School
Stamford American International School
Read our Ultimate Guide to International Schools in Singapore!
British Council Preschool
The Children’s Place
Little Paddington Preschool
Lorna Whiston Preschool
Rosemary Hall Montessori
Sunflower Baby House & Preschool
Read our Ultimate Guide to Kindergartens & Preschools in Singapore!
Happy hunting, mamas!
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