Written by Amy Yang, Secondary Chinese Coordinator
One of our Alumni, Liping Lin, mentioned in his speech at Pudong 21 evening in January “Yew Chung provides us with a very unique cultural environment, so that we can study both English and Chinese. Because of this deep language learning experience, we will have a totally different world perspective, which will enlighten our future.” As you might know, Liping has been leading his team to explore how to blend Chinese and western culture since he was in university, and last year his team signed an official contract with Microsoft to provide Chinese design to Minecraft.
There are many other cases like Liping’s amongst our Alumni. The mastery of both languages and deep understanding of eastern and western cultures helps our graduates easily share their vision withothers and impact their community and the world. Our students graduate with great confidence as they head off to university and then to join the workforce.
So how does learning Chinese at YCIS prepare our students for the ever-changing environment in the future. We believe in comes down to the following three aspects:
The importance of sharing the vision and how we make it happen in Chinese class
We know that all languages differ from one another by sounds, vocabulary and structure. The structure of Chinese characters deliver ancient Chinese philosophy and values to people in the modern society. In Secondary, our teachers not only help the students develop their language skills, but also create a lot of opportunities to let them explore the fascinating aspects of language. Through these activities, students can feel how the language we speak shape the way we think.
But as teachers, how do we make sure all students in the class, who have different language backgrounds, share their different perspectives in the classroom?
Most of our Chinese teachers participated indistance courses offered by Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and had the chance to discuss this topic online with teachers from all over the world. They read professional books, put the theories into practice, and sharedtheir thoughts with other colleagues. So far, the Secondary Chinese department have finished three HGSE courses:” Creating Culture of Thinking”, “Visible Thinking” and “Differentiation Instruction Made Practical”, which are all part of Harvard’s “Project Zero”.
Participating teachers are encouraged to use the most current pedagogies to engage with the students and discover this long historical but vivid language together. The “Visible Thinking” routines they are using in class allow students to share different their views and their learning of studying Chinese no matter their cultural background. During this process, students’ cognitive ability and cultural awareness are also developed.
Collaboration and Approaches to Learning
If cognitive ability and cultural awareness can boost the students’ communication skill in our global context, then collaboration skills is the key competency which can help them adjust to the working environment post studies. In our Secondary Chinese classes, we place emphasis on fostering students’ collaboration skills through: observations, providing extra support, and measuring the impact on individual students. From group reports to group projects, our students either use Visible Thinking routines to synthesize information or dig deeply and debate on a certain topic. We are trying to create an authentic environment, foster motivated and dedicated learners and prepare them to overcome unforeseen challenges in the future.
In Secondary, we have 7 Chinese teachers who teach IB DP language courses and among them, there are 3 IB DP examiners plus 1 Deputy Senior Examiner. They are familiar with the assessment criteria so that our average IB Chinese final scores always fall between 6.4 – 6.7 out of 7 every year, which is a remarkable result.
Yew Chung’s holistic education system inspires our students’ natural curiosity and provides them with a safe environment to explore, imagine and make ideas happen. In Chinese subject, we also believe that creativity and autonomous learning will help our students stand out in the future.
In class, our teachers understand each student has a voice and that their voice matters. Out of class, they also allow the students to work on their own personal reading or writing projects, to enable them a say in their own learning.
In our “Poetry meets Music” project in Chinese as a First Language (CFL) students walk into the studio and compose their own songs. Our “Cool Conversation” Video Competition in Chinese as an Additional Language (CAL) inspires the students to discover an interesting topic, interview local people and draw their own conclusions.
Moreover, the Secondary Chinese Talent Show has been boosting the student autonomy for eight years, and it shows both the Chinese language skills or the most creative ideas among our students. We believe thatautonomy is not only a construct of capacity, but also involves a willingness on the part of the learner to take responsibility for their own learning. To further understand what student agency in university looks like, our Secondary teachers also work with New York University Shanghai and East China Normal University, and get a clearer understanding.
No matter how the “21st Century skills” has been defined, “Multicultural Literacy”, “Collaborative problem-solving skill” and “Self-driven and personal management” still play a major role. We are committed to fostering inour students an abilityto acquire those skills through our unique Chinese curriculum, and to give them thepower to enlighten their future.