While English is arguably more commonly spoken, there are a larger number of native speakers of Mandarin Chinese than any other language on the planet. However you work the stats, it makes sense that exposing our children to a Chinese-English bilingual education at their International School in Singapore can be a great way to help them succeed in the future. Parents BRAD and LISA WONG felt the same way, which is why they were attracted to the Chinese-English bilingual programme at the Canadian International School (CIS) for their four children. We asked them to share their experience so far.
How long have your kids been enrolled in CIS’s bilingual programme?
This will be the third year for our 10-year old twin boys, and the first year for our five- and three-year-old girls.
Why did you enrol them?
For us, one of the benefits of living in Singapore is that our kids can get a good grasp of Chinese. We wanted a English-Chinese programme that was truly bilingual, and we were happy to find a school that values language acquisition and has allocated sufficient resources to make sure it works.
In the bilingual programme at CIS, sometimes the kids learn in English, and sometimes they learn in Chinese; they never really mind which one is used. Learning in another language (rather than just learning a language) is a good way to give it context and promote interest.
So, has the bilingual programme lived up to your expectations?
Yes, we’re very happy with the CIS programme. The teachers are wonderful and, in particular, the dynamic of the English and Chinese teachers working together is great. I think it’s important to have excellent and efficient teachers, and we’ve certainly found that to be the case. The teaching quality has been exceptional and they’ve always been available to give feedback or answer questions. The kids have also kept up with their English requirements, which is also very important to us.
Do you find any challenges with helping your children complete their homework?
While we don’t speak Chinese at home, the homework hasn’t been too taxing on them; and they’ve always been quite self-sufficient with getting it done.
What it involves
If you’d like your children to have equal exposure to both Chinese and English as they learn, take a look at these key features of the bilingual programme at the Canadian International School.
- Classes are fully aligned with the IB Primary Years Programme, and available to students from pre-kindergarten to Grade 6.
- There are two qualified teachers (native English and Chinese speaking) in each class.
- Chinese literacy is supported by Chinese language acquisition classes, which are taught by a separate teacher five times a week.
- The Chinese literacy classes follow the respected Big Apple Programme; this collection of over 130 levelled story books was written by CIS’s Chinese Language and Bilingual School Principal, Huali Xiong.
- Currently there are 47 bilingual classes, with no limit on the number of classes available.
- Over the past three years, CIS students have outperformed all other students in Singapore in the Youth Chinese Test (YCT)
See more in our Schools section:
This article first appeared in the November 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!