Building Confidence in our Chinese Language Speakers
Among several tailored offerings students can benefit from at Yew Chung International School of Beijing, our pioneering Bilingual Programme is the top reason why many still choose to enroll their children. With 17 years working experience at our campus, April Peng, Primary School Chinese Vice-Principal who was at the time a Chinese Language Teacher, and subsequently became the Chinese Coordinator, has the expertise to tell us more about the essence of Chinese Language Learning and how the evolution of the school over the years has positively impacted YCIS Beijing students’ learning.
The formation of Learning Communities has been the most conspicuous addition, which has positively impacted the pedagogy, the overall environment of the school and the way students learn Chinese.
We previously used a fixed room for language classes, like most schools still do, with same teachers teaching the same group of students; but the introduction of horizontal links (where students are separated according to their levels) and vertical links (where students of all levels share a class) is benefitting greatly our language learners. The flexibility of the Learning Communities allows for the learning needs of students to be met as they are assigned support according to their needs.
According to April, Chinese language learners tend to shy away from putting into use the language they learned, regardless of what level they are in. “Use the language, because language is not just for learning, but for usage, especially in real situations during our daily lives.” she advises. Using language in these situations is a way to practice, a contributing factor to students improving their Chinese language skills.
YCIS Beijing creates an environment that allows for students to put their language skills into use by creating daily, relatable scenarios around the school which are linked to academic content students have completed. April Peng gives an example of learning about “Going to the Doctor”: Students will be given a task to go to the School nurse and interview her about things like illnesses, taking someone’s temperature and other medical related questions”.
Another way to offer opportunities for students to showcase the knowledge they have gained are the “Learning Celebrations” where students present what they have learned at the end of a unit to their classmates, teachers and parents. This can be presented in different formats, i.e. Hip-Hop Mandarin, drama or poetry.
The School also provides an in-house online platform, iLearnChinese which is intended to provide support to students when they are not in the confines of the School, but would like to continue learning Chinese at home. This platform is bursting with interactive and educational games, textbooks and resources prescribed by teachers for students’ respective levels.
For parents who would like their children to immerse themselves even further in the Chinese language beyond the school walls, April offers the following tips:
• Encourage the use the resources available and create opportunities to learn or use the language. An example is using technology to create vlogs.
• Because we live in an environment that allows us, encourage your child to talk to the locals! This might be the Ayi at home, the cashier or the security guard in your compound.
• Opt for Chinese books when reading with your child.
• Do not force your children to learn Chinese, but encourage them.
Click here to read more tips on how to get started if you are learning Chinese for the first time.