Having a second language gives learners a deeper understanding of another culture and provides them with future-ready skills to solve problems in an ever changing world. Students in the bilingual language programmes – Chinese-English and French-English – at the Canadian International School (CIS) are learning a language within a unique 50:50 model.
The 50:50 model
Every day, CIS students spend an equal amount of time attending classes in English and in either Chinese or French. This is achieved with two teachers in the classroom, one speaking English and the other speaking Chinese or French. Students must communicate with teachers in the target language; this way, they learn without translation.
For example, during a French-English bilingual STEAM class, Grade 5 students cook and learn in French. This involves understanding the vocabulary needed for food preparation and cooking and reading recipe instructions in French. The students imagine that they’re real French chefs in a restaurant in France! They gather and sort their ingredients, maintain order in the kitchen and also communicate in French. Some even get inspired to keep on cooking at home.
In this way, the culture of the language is integrated into the learning too. By being introduced to different cultural concepts and contexts in Chinese or French, the students’ learning becomes more memorable, and they become effectively bilingual, biliterate and bicultural.
CIS was one of the first international schools in Singapore to offer the Chinese-English bilingual programme. The school currently has 47 classes in the programme, from prekindergarten to Grade 6. In August 2021, it began offering mathematics and science in Chinese for students in Grades 7 and 8, to ensure that multilingual language is continued. Meanwhile, the school extended its French-English programme to Grade 5 in August 2021 and will extend it to Grade 6 in August 2022 (subject to enrolment).
The programme has continually improved from input from bilingual experts who visit the school annually. The results of the bilingual programmes speak for themselves:
- In 2019, CIS students outperformed all other international and local school students in Singapore in the Youth Chinese test.
- After just one year in the programme, kindergarten students with no prior knowledge of Chinese can accurately understand and follow instructions and communicate clearly with their teacher. By the end of Grade 1, after two years in the programme, students can communicate confidently and also read simple books in Chinese without the help of pinyin.
Find out more
Interested to know more about CIS’s bilingual programmes? Register for an upcoming Open House session (cis.edu.sg/admissions/open-house). You’ll hear from the Head of School and the Chinese-English bilingual programme principal and also have the chance to peek into classrooms to see what learning looks like in the popular bilingual programme.
A word from a teacher and students…
“When I have students who are only starting to learn French, I like to make them see all the fun and positive sides of learning the language. One of the ways is through reading. For example, I choose interesting, funny or intriguing picture books and read tons of stories to them. They become very interested and motivated to access the language, and to be able to read the books or retell the stories by themselves.”
Kayla Carneiro, Grade 1-2 bilingual French teacher
“It’s fun as we get to explore and help others with knowing another language. We’re not stuck in one way of doing things. We get to know more and look at things in different ways in two languages.”
Bea and Millie, Grade 2 Chinese-English bilingual students
Learn more about preschools and international schools in Singapore.
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