Bilingual Program: Learning Beyond the Language
The Bilingual Program at Stamford American School Hong Kong develops communication skills in both English and Mandarin across the curriculum. This stream uses a 60/40 (English/Mandarin) immersion model using simplified Chinese characters similar to the curriculum in Stamford Singapore. Taught using a unique one-teacher model, students develop communication skills for the highest possible proficiency and confidence in both languages. Beyond language acquisition, this program offers students an advantage by expanding their cultural appreciation and fostering cognitive development.
Mr. Fan, a Stamford parent, explains why he has chosen the Bilingual Program for his son in Grade 3.
Why did you choose the Bilingual Program for your child?
“Coming from an American and Chinese background, I feel that it is important for my son not only to be able to communicate in both languages but also to gain an understanding of the cultural way of thinking in both languages,” Mr. Fan explained. Learning Mandarin has given his son a sense of belonging and an appreciation of his own cultural identity. He can communicate and connect with family members that cannot speak English.
“I feel that communication is also a vital tool in today’s world. Learning a language is hard; however, by understanding the cultural background, it helps it to make sense. Without background, everything becomes meaningless,” voiced Mr. Fan.
Does your child enjoy the Bilingual Program?
For many students, the bilingual program is challenging but also exciting and enjoyable. “My son finds learning languages alongside students from different backgrounds helps him to feel comfortable. He loves switching between the languages,” commented Mr. Fan. “Putting him in this bilingual environment will present him with more challenges, but at the same time, he has more fun,” Mr. Fan added.
What do you think of using two languages to learn one subject?
Learning one subject in two languages allows his son to understand and appreciate different perspectives and learn beyond just the language. “If you want to understand the language, you must also understand the culture, and to understand the culture you must dig into the way people think, understand and view the world from different cultures and backgrounds. By learning the subject in two languages, you give the child a tool to be open-minded and be comfortable to use different ways of thinking.” Mr. Fan explained.
Would you encourage other parents to choose a Bilingual Program?
A strong foundation of communication skills is critical when children are young, and their minds are naturally open to learning. “The world is becoming more complex, and when our children grow up, they need their communication skills more than ever to make the world a better place. Global communication will help people to have open dialogues and solve problems. People from different cultures have different ways of thinking, and when the child learns to appreciate the views of others, you open up their minds. Later they will be able to use these different perspectives; this is one thing I believe that cannot be taught to adults.”
What do you think of the one-teacher model?
“Stamford’s Bilingual Program is different and unique. There is one teacher (per class) who is proficient in both languages and gives children the idea that it is natural for people to be able to speak two languages,” says Mr. Fan. Students benefit from a consistent teaching style, and most importantly, their teacher serves as an aspirational role model of bilingualism.