In 2024, the Elementary School at SJI International Singapore is saying “hello”/“ni hao” to a new two-way Bilingual Programme featuring immersion in Chinese and English. We ask the school’s Assistant Principal DR GARY GUO how the programme will aid students with a bilingual education in Singapore by helping native and non-native speakers of the two languages become proficient in both.
What’s the goal of the new SJI International Bilingual Programme (BP)?
Our aim is to give students the opportunity to develop their intercultural competence, thinking and analytical skills through vast exposure to different ideas and perspectives.
The programme will run across all core subjects of the curriculum, which will follow the Mainstream Programme that includes IPC, English Language Arts, Singapore Maths and Chinese language following the China National Curriculum standard. The only difference with the BP is that teaching will be delivered in both English and Chinese language and perspectives. Specialist subjects such as Music and Art will also be taught in both languages. PE will be taught in English with the addition and integration of Chinese cultural elements including Kung Fu.
Students in the two bilingual programmes at SJI International will not be mixed for lessons but they’ll all spend time together during daily playtimes, lunch, assemblies and special event days, helping contribute to their bilingual education in Singapore. School-wide events will be conducted in English except for some Chinese cultural events.
How will this two-way immersion in Chinese and English be applied in lessons at SJI International Elementary School?
The two-way immersion model enables students to learn English and Chinese culture and language through communication, activities and play. In the homeroom, there will be two teachers – one native Chinese speaker and one native English speaker on a different day.
The curriculum is taught in English and Chinese on alternate days so students are immersed in an authentic and targeted language environment. There will be a 10-day teaching cycle, dividing the language of instruction by subject area and time. Students will study four IPC units throughout the academic year in Chinese and English collaboratively.
Our teachers will integrate cultural perspectives through daily teaching as well as the school’s Wellbeing and Virtues programmes. We also offer Ancient Chinese, Chinese Etiquette, Confucius Philosophy and Chinese Literature at the Culture and Language Centre within school.
Who is the Bilingual Programme for?
It’s designed for students of any nationality who are keen to learn both English and Chinese to develop an equal proficiency in both languages.
Teachers differentiate the learning to ensure every student is supported wherever necessary to progress in both languages. Parents will also be guided on how to support their child’s bilingual education in Singapore at home, regardless of the child’s mother tongue.
When does it kick off?
The BP starts at the beginning of the new academic year in January and will roll out across Prep 1, Prep 2 and Grades 1 and 2. As these initial classes progress in their school journey, the programme will organically open in subsequent years.
How can a student apply?
Applications are now open to all interested students. As part of the admissions process, a child has to meet the general admissions criteria already in place for Mainstream applicants before they’re assessed on their level of language proficiency. This is to ensure that they can access the curriculum in either English or Chinese at their appropriate age level.
This article first appeared in the October 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe so you never miss a copy!
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