In the coming decades, English and Chinese will be the two most important languages to know. Anyone who can achieve total mastery of both will prove to be quite an asset in the global workforce. That is why last September, Wellington College International Shanghai introduced its Dual Language Pathway. The aim with this ambitious pilot project has been to create fully bilingual, biliterate and bicultural pupils through immersion in a dual Chinese and English learning environment.
At Wellington College International Shanghai, pupils enrolled on the pathway learn every subject, from maths to social studies, in both English and Chinese. As a result, they do not just learn both languages; they learn how to learn in both languages. They develop the ability to transition seamlessly between both languages. Eventually, they will not even have to translate in their heads. They will be able to comprehend and process the information immediately.
Pupils joining this bespoke bilingual, bicultural programme are able to follow it from the Early Years through to year 8 as part of a dedicated stream to be adequately prepared to progress on to first language English and Chinese iGCSE courses and the bilingual IB Diploma, should they wish.
The content and mode of delivery of the dual language curriculum in the Early Years Centre is founded on what Wellington College International Shanghai knows about early language development from research and excellent practice worldwide in the acquisition of more than one language. It is built on a strong sense of attachment to familiar learning environments and adults, and a solid foundation in the child’s first language.
The Dual Language Pathwaylooks to transform traditional Chinese teaching into more meaningful project-based learning that presents as seamless and indistinct from the more general approaches in the EYC. The curriculum also focuses on achieving excellent standards of Chinese for native speaking children within the additional accelerated literacy programme as well as the introduction of higher levels of Chinese for non-native speakers.
At this international school in Shanghai, high standards of English are maintained alongside the dual language model at all times. This will not only prepare the EYC learners for the year 1 dual language track, but also enhance learning more generally through the cognitive benefits of multilanguage learning. Finally, a greater focus on the dual culture aspect of the pathway mirrors the Wellington Values and acknowledges the breadth of Chinese teaching in the College.
At Wellington College International Shanghai, the entire Early Years team is part of the Dual Language Pathway, and it includes increased Chinese sessions from three to five per week. An additional dual language track is also offered in the Reception year that is suitable for families who want to be part of the long-term Dual Language Pathway through to Prep School and beyond. Dual language-track pupils in Reception have focused intervention time from the Chinese team daily.
Building upon the language skills developed in the dual language Early Years Centre (EYC) learning environment, one class in each year group from year 1 will follow the Dual Language Pathway. While still very much part of the year group, pupils in the dual language classes learn in a carefully planned English-Chinese immersion environment.
The proportion of English and Chinese teaching input in dual language classes is 60:40, compared with 85:15 in mainstream classes. Pupils develop their Chinese language knowledge and skills, not just in the Chinese lessons (based on the Chinese National Curriculum) but also in mathematics, cross-curricular humanities, PE, art and other specialist lessons. At Wellington College International Shanghai, the content and language integrated learning model (CLIL) places particular focus on Chinese culture and comparative cultural studies, to cultivate pupils’ bicultural awareness and communication proficiency.
To ensure that the pupils truly make the most of such a rich curriculum, each dual language class benefits from an additional Chinese class teacher who works alongside the English-speaking class teacher and a specialist teaching assistant.
As the Dual Language Pathway’s inaugural year comes to a close, some parents were asked what they thought about their children’s progress. Here is what they said.
Isabella, parent of Leo:
“It has been several months since we enrolled Leo in the Dual Language Programme. He has made significant progress both in English and Chinese. His English pronunciation is better, and he can read junior-level English books. In Chinese, he is not only reading contemporary Chinese books but also poems. He also has a much better understanding of Chinese characters, history and culture. The programme has sparked in him a passion for learning about China and he has gained greater confidence in speaking both languages.”
Carsyn, parent of Augustus:
“Augustus is definitely improving his confidence level in both languages. He is also now more inclined to communicate in Chinese with his sister at home. In the past, our children would usually start reverting to English within two weeks of the new term. But it has been different this year. Since our son enrolled in the Dual Language Pathway, our children continue to speak Chinese with each other.”
Echo, parent of Cade and Emma:
“Cade and Emma’s Chinese understanding is improving much faster than we expected. Our children used to stick to one language. But since we have enrolled them in the Dual Language Pathway, we have noticed that they are far more confident when speaking both Chinese and English. What is most impressive is how seamlessly they switch back and forth. They are also more comfortable asking the kinds of questions that will help them improve their speaking abilities. After just one academic year, they have a full understanding and command of both English and Chinese, and they more clearly understand the cultural implications between the two languages.”
Company Name: Wellington College International Shanghai
Contact Person: Admission Department
Email: Send Email
Phone: +86-21 5185-3866
Address:No.1500 Yao Long Road, Pudong New District