Interested in bilingual education? You’ll definitely want to give the landmark Chinese Immersion program at Singapore American School a look!
After years of careful research, observation, and collaboration with leading bilingual education programs around the world, Singapore American School debuted its Chinese Immersion Program in 2017. Running from preschool through fifth grade, the program empowers its students to work toward fluency while also building the foundation for continued academic success. After all, studies have shown that bilingual children possess better listening and problem-solving skills, and are also better at focusing on a task at hand than monolingual students.
The SAS program is notable for applying a Western educational model to Chinese immersion learning – every day is fun, and students learn not through rote memorisation, but through play and hands-on activities. Here’s what a day looks like within SAS’s Chinese Immersion Learning Community, which features two teachers, two instructional assistants, and 44 students split across two classes in a flexible learning space.
Click through for a glimpse into the life of a (very lucky) SAS kindergartener!
Want to find out more? Click here to sign up for a virtual admissions event!
Nǐ hǎo (hello)! Zǎoshang hǎo (good morning)!… Nǐ hǎo ma? (How are you?) flood the room as both sections of the room settle down in a circle and patiently awaiting further instruction.
During this morning meeting, students greet each other and their teachers; talk about their favorite colors, animals, and foods; read the date, and even take attendance—all in Chinese!
Other typical phrases heard throughout the day: Qǐng ānjìng (please be quiet), Wǒmen yìqǐ chàng gē (let’s sing a song together), and hěn hǎo (very good).
Classes are combined and with the roll of a die, flashcards, and little toy animals, the children explore numbers.
An outside observer will soon realize that these kids are learning to not only read and write, but also think in Chinese. It’s so much more than a bilingual program; it’s truly immersive experience where even concepts are taught in the new language.
Soon it’s time for recess, snacks, and play. Overheard from some students:
“It’s hard, but fun.”
“I love singing in Chinese.”
Handing over a banana, “Can you please help me peel this xiāngjiāo?” Another says, “This is a cǎoméi (strawberry).”
Out comes the play dough, ice-cream sticks, and a table-top clock set up at stations around the room. Kids can walk over to the activity of their choice and make Chinese letters from the materials provided, or spin the clock hands to try and read the time. In this way, they’re learning how to write before they actually learn how to write characters.
After this it’s time for lunch, recess, and more outdoor play!
The students go to a different classroom for English and Language Arts (ELA), which – along with Music, Art and PE – comprises the 25 in SAS’s 75/25 Mandarin Immersion model.
At ELA, students have fun doing a little bit of English writing practice followed by activity stations that explore the building of words.
Back in their immersion learning communities, the students learn about family as the teachers put up family photos and teach the kids how to address their bàba, māma (parents) and xiōngdìjiěmèi (siblings). This is followed by a song and dance session teaching family relationships.
Next, it’s back to exploring mathematical concepts in Chinese, with rolling the die, and playing with different objects and toys.
At 2:35, Immersion students head to perceptual motor class (PE, also taught in English). It’s a great way for kids to acquire and improve movement accuracy.
Then at 3pm everyone queues up and it’s time to go home. Say Zàijiàn (goodbye) to teachers and friends!
Want to find out more about the Chinese Immersion Program at Singapore American School? Click here to request more info, or contact SAS to arrange a visit!
Brought to you in partnership with Singapore American School