Life is better with two languages
BIBS is very conscious of the context in which our school operates. We have great respect for the rich and varied history and culture of China and want all our students to have the opportunity to learn about it during their time at our school. Accordingly, we are not just concerned with teaching the technicalities of the Chinese language, instead, we provide our students with opportunities to experience and enjoy its beauty. In art class, for example, we not only teach various skills and techniques needed, but also the particular traditions and beauty of Chinese art.
As is common in international school environments, many of our children live in the country for relatively short periods of time before moving on. We want to make sure that, independent of how much time they spend in China, each of our students leaves with as deep and meaningful an understanding as possible of the country, its people and its history.
Chinese teachers at BIBS do not follow the “foreign language instructor” model used at other schools. Instead, as co-homeroom teachers, they have the same status as the expat teachers, sharing the responsibility of managing the class, educating and taking care our students. Our Chinese teachers not only teach Chinese language effectively, but also speak fluent English. As a result, our teachers are able to integrate Chinese teaching into the IB curriculum while teaching collaboratively. Additionally, co-teachers share classroom workspace, thus facilitating mutual support and providing better academic and pastoral support for our students.
BIBS admits children with a wide range of Chinese language proficiency – from native speakers to absolute beginners. Our teaching strategies and organization, therefore, reflect this diversity. Before admission, students are tested to determine the level most appropriate for them. They are then put in a class at one of four different levels.
Most foreign students will be in a class where the emphasis is on spoken Chinese and Pinyin and where the most commonly used Chinese written characters are taught. They use books designed specifically for teaching foreign students and we closely monitor the progress they make. Student progress is tested regularly, and students progress to more advanced classes as appropriate. Each grade has its own leveled classes, so BIBS students are always amongst their peers.
Mother tongue Chinese speakers follow a course much closer to the Chinese national curriculum. Although they will have fewer lessons a week than if they were part of the Chinese state system, students with strong study habits experience success entering or re-entering the Chinese state system after BIBS.