Language skills can unlock the world. In pre-Covid times, when we travelled the world and explored a new culture, how many times did we wish we could ask questions and make friendly connections in the native language of the region? How wonderful it would be if our children could be fluent in not just one but two of the most spoken languages in the world – Chinese and English!
Mandarin Chinese and English are among the four national languages of Singapore. At OWIS, we recognise the importance of giving students the opportunity to achieve true fluency in these widely-used languages of the world. By being well-versed in Mandarin and English, their avenues of personal, social, academic and possibly professional growth will expand manifold.
Our optional Chinese-English Bilingual programme is open to students from Grade 1 to Grade 5. It’s an immersive learning experience perfect for those children who have some level of skill in both languages. The programme is taught by a highly experienced bilingual teacher who is supported by a bilingual assistant. In a nutshell, the students will learn the transdisciplinary subject matter of the IB PYP curriculum in both English and Mandarin, as well as start picking up the nuances of Chinese culture and literature.
The Design of the OWIS Bilingual Programme Curriculum
Coming up with the curriculum for this programme was an intensive process of discussions, brainstorming and research. We would like to take you through our thought process of the factors we considered while designing the bilingual Chinese-English programme:
- The curriculum must be an inquiry-based programme. We believe that this is the best way for children to develop and learn in the classroom setting.
- The curriculum must be differentiated and personalised. This allows us to cater to your child’s individual needs and strengths, which will, in turn, give them more opportunities for success.
- The curriculum must promote the strengths of our multicultural community. We are proud of the fact that our students and staff members represent a variety of cultures, backgrounds and religions.
- The programme must be able to effectively assess students so that they can get appropriate feedback and guidance to improve. We use both formative and summative assessments in our bilingual curriculum.
- The programme must promote kindness. We aim to encourage kindness, compassion and empathy through every programme that we offer. Our kindness-based curriculum helps OWIS stand out from other schools in Singapore.
Student Needs Form the Heart of the OWIS Bilingual Programme
The bilingual programme caters to young learners who want to improve their Chinese or English fluency or both. To be able to take in new ideas in different subjects in these languages at the primary level, we know that these young children need to be comfortable in class and be able to express themselves.
The following are the guidelines we follow in our Chinese-English bilingual programme to make sure our students engage in a free flow of communication, even in their nascent stage of learning:
• Using Positive Interactions and Relationships with Teachers as a Foundation for Learning
The teachers and instructors in the immersive bilingual programme at OWIS are fluent in both Chinese and English, which allows them to connect with students in the language that the students are most comfortable with, while simultaneously expanding their knowledge of a new language. The ability to communicate effectively with their teachers allows students to develop positive working relationships with all of their instructors.
• Relying on Social-Emotional Competence as a Factor for Success
The teachers at OWIS understand that your child’s social-emotional needs must be met for them to succeed in an academic setting. As such, we incorporate social-emotional learning opportunities into daily life at OWIS. Within the bilingual programme, students will learn to use their new language in a conversational setting in which they discuss their experiences and feelings with one another.
• Implementing Student Agency From a Bilingual Perspective
Student agency is the process of giving your child both a choice and voice in their learning experience. In the bilingual programme, we look at student agency from a different perspective. Our instructors regularly offer learning opportunities in both languages and through a variety of engaging activities, thereby allowing your child to learn in a way that is most comfortable and effective for them.
• Offering Constructive, Useful Play Opportunities in Both Languages
Our bilingual programme is available to students as young as six years old. As such, we make it a point to include constructive play in our bilingual curriculum programme. These play-based experiences are crafted in a thoughtful and purposeful way, allowing students to build upon their existing language skills while simultaneously becoming fluent in a new language.
• Designing a Physical Environment to Improve the Quality of Learning Interactions
In the bilingual programme at OWIS, the physical classrooms are designed to stimulate each student’s sense of language. Bulletin boards, posters and other decorative elements are displayed in both Chinese and English, giving students new chances to improve their skills at every opportunity. In addition, reading materials in the classroom are available in both languages, allowing your child to develop good reading habits as part of the bilingual programme.
• Forming Teacher-Parent Partnerships to Promote Development and Learning
In the bilingual programme, teachers work closely with parents to show them how to maintain language exposure in the home environment. These innovative partnerships are particularly powerful for families who are not bilingual.
At OWIS, we firmly believe that curriculum design should reflect the school’s values, which is why kindness is emphasised in our creative design strategy. We use our innovative bilingual curriculum programme to help students improve their language skills and have the confidence that they need to succeed in a global economy.
For more information about the bilingual programme at OWIS, schedule a virtual tour today.