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The Dual Language Learning

2019-06-26 WUTONG

This is a short article about a very complex subject!

The YueCheng Courtyard Kindergarten offers children a dual language education. This means that from the day they enter the kindergarten they will learn through the medium of both the Chinese and English languages. 

The basic reason for this is that Chinese children should continually strengthen their mother tongue, Chinese, while also having the opportunity to learn another major international language, English. Many schools focus mainly on either the English or the Chinese language, which is fine, but at the Courtyard Kindergarten both languages are considered equally important – because both languages are important for your child's future.

In practical terms, how will this be achieved? 

It's not difficult to understand. For every group of children there will be English-speaking and Chinese-speaking teachers. Both languages will be used in a way that is purposefully planned. There will be no translation from one language to another, because that would deter children from paying attention and learning through both languages at a deep level. The children will become accustomed to the dual-language environment and will learn to switch from one language to the other according to the context.  What a wonderful start in life!

An important thing to understand is that language is not just about people communicating with each other. Language goes much deeper than that. It is inextricably linked with the quality of our thinking and the depth at which we may understand and contribute to the culture within which our language is embedded. Language is also profoundly linked to the quality of what we read: there is a symbiotic relationship between the quality of what we read and the quality of the language with which we think, speak and write.  Chinese parents may wonder why I advocate so strongly for the Chinese language. It is because strong cognitive and academic proficiency in the mother tongue is a key indicator of a highly educated person.

Of course, at the kindergarten the children will be very young, and the depth of language used in the classroom will reflect the child's readiness and stage of development. But a focus on the Chinese mother tongue at a young age is an important start to developing strong cognitive, academic language at a later age. The same is true in the case of English. 

So, a dual language program will give your child the best possible start. However, please do not expect your child to become fluent in two languages within a few weeks or months. Language-learning is a very long-term process, and parents must be patient. Ultimately the rewards will be high.