OWIS Teachers Explain: How we make language learning interesting in the Chinese-English Bilingual Programme

Launched in 2021, OWIS’ Chinese-English Bilingual Programme has caught the attention of international families in Singapore for its truly bilingual design. The curriculum is taught by teachers who are fluent in both languages, which gives them the ease of switching between both languages when explaining a topic. The different themes and Units of Inquiry, which are based on the IB Primary Years Programme (IB PYP), are taught in both English and Mandarin. Students are able to build their vocabulary, get used to listening to and speaking in both languages in the classroom, and are slowly and steadily gaining bilingual proficiency as they progress to the next grade.

One of the interesting aspects of our Bilingual Programme is the introduction to Chinese cultural traditions, which extends the scope of the programme beyond linguistic skills. Ms. Julie Ge, Grade 1 Bilingual Teacher, explains that through the bilingual, bi-literate and bicultural nature of the programme, students acquire knowledge through different learning engagements and they gain an appreciation of the culture and traditions of China in the process.

Julie Ge, Grade 1 Bilingual Programme Teacher

“We believe culture is embedded in literature, poems, customs, etc. In the Bilingual Programme, students learn poems regularly and they create performances around these too. We integrate Chinese learning with drama and performance, which is very engaging. When students are engaged, the learning is more effective and fun. Furthermore, OWIS is a multicultural school, and on special celebrations and festivals, we always compare the traditions of that culture with that of China. We also involve parents by asking for presentations of the cultural elements.”

Ms. Juan Zhao, Grade 1 Bilingual Programme teacher, concurs and says that she enjoys listening to students sharing topics they are interested in and conversing with them in Chinese.

Juan Zhao, Grade 1 Bilingual Programme Teacher

“Our Bilingual Programme not only offers students opportunities to learn Mandarin as a language, but also gives them exposure to Chinese culture and literature. They get to play Chinese games (shuttlecock kicking), are introduced to and experience Chinese festivals, such as Chinese New Year, and try new food.”

Opening a window to the rich cultural traditions of China is one way to make the learning experience engaging in the Bilingual Programme. Our experienced teachers also use their creativity and imagination within the framework of the IB PYP curriculum to cater to the different learning styles in the classroom. For instance, the symmetry of Chinese characters is explored through body movements and art.

Ms. Zoe Zhen, Grade 2 and 3 Bilingual Programme teacher, talks about the various hands-on elements of learning that are incorporated in the curriculum.

Zoe Zhen, Grade 2 / 3 Bilingual Programme Teacher

“We use movements and gestures to learn new Chinese words. Students can explore new sentence patterns and vocabulary through a variety of games. Our Chinese lessons are usually based on the IB PYP Unit of Inquiry, and that makes the Chinese classroom more vivid and closely related to their life.”

Ms. Zhen also shares some tips for parents to support their children in the Chinese-English Bilingual Programme:

  • International families could use some Chinese online resources for their children at home, such as listening to some picture book stories and songs.
  • They can also communicate with their children about what they have learned in school, and let the students act as teachers to teach their parents to speak some Chinese sentences.”

 The advantages of enrolling children in OWIS’ Chinese-English Bilingual Programme are many. By learning multiple languages at the same time, students can master the ability to process a variety of different information at the same time. They can also learn about different cultures by learning different languages.

 To learn more about our Bilingual Programme, please contact our Admissions Team.

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