At Kennedy School approximately 20% of students are native or near native Chinese speakers, whereas 80% of students are learning Chinese as their second, third, or in some cases fourth, language.
Chinese language teaching occurs in varied ways to meet the diverse needs of Kennedy School students.
In our approach to Chinese language teaching we ensure that we cater to all learning differences, adopt an inquiry approach and enable students to learn Chinese in cultural contexts.
1. Cater for Learning Differences
In order to differentiate effectively and meet the differing needs of each learner, we have created a model using different pathways. In addition to the Pathways we provide additional support groups for children that need more support. These groups are often seen working with an experienced Chinese Educational Assistant to help them bridge any gaps in their language learning.
We also provide extension groups for children who are gifted in the use of Chinese language and who need to be extended and challenged. Such students are openly encouraged to participate in storytelling, drama, writing competitions and performances at the annual national Chinese Speech Festival.
2. PYP Inquiry Learning
The school’s Programme of Inquiry comprises relevant and significant Central Ideas under each of the six transdiciplinary themes.
These provide the basis for opportunities for teaching and learning to occur across the different subject disciplines.
All language forms a fundamental part of each Unit of Inquiry as the children need language as a tool to inquire and communicate.
The Chinese Language department has enriched the school’s Programme of Inquiry in the following ways:
Firstly, where the focus is on teaching specific Chinese Language skills the themes are carefully selected to complement the current unit of inquiry. This is referred to as making meaningful links.
Wherever possible the Chinese language teaching and learning is adapted to meaningfully link to other learning. Often this is done through the Chinese language being explored through common UOI themes.
Secondly, the Chinese Language department has selected one specific Unit of Inquiry from each year group to directly support inquiry through the skill and knowledge of the Chinese language and culture. This is referred to as a supporting unit of inquiry through transdisciplinary learning.
Supporting units of inquiry directly link to what the children are learning, only they explore conceptual understandings of the Central idea through the perspective of the Chinese language or culture.
Thirdly, the Chinese Language department is developing units of inquiry which addresses the specific development of language. A standalone unit of inquiry is used for the sole purpose of inquiring into the Chinese language in order to learn about language.
3. Learning in cultural contexts
By blending in cultural elements, the broadened Chinese curriculum can provide students with a good opportunity to learn the target language in an authentic way. Popular Chinese festivals are explored and incorporated into units of inquiries and celebrated together as a whole school. Such a curriculum can also effectively motivate those students to use Chinese in a culturally-rich context.