What is bilingual education?
Bilingual education uses two languages to teach children. At Sunrise School, the two main languages are Mandarin Chinese (traditional) and English because English and Mandarin Chinese are the top 2 most spoken languages in the world. Instead of learning English as a separate subject, both languages are used to learn content, discuss ideas, and share knowledge. In this way, students are exposed to vocabulary and content knowledge across subjects in both languages. Students are expected to be able to exchange information through oral and written language in both Chinese and English. In our global world, being bilingual is a valuable communication tool.
How do we implement bilingual education in our classroom?
AB model → We alternate between English-only days and Chinese-only days. That means students are working, communicating, and learning in one language for a whole day. Then they fully immerse themselves in the other language the next day. As we switch languages, the learning arc continues on as normal. We continue teaching the content, we do not repeat content in each language. Students continue working on the same project, they are just doing it in the other language.
Resources → Language acquisition requires repeated exposure and practice. We have a resource wall full of previously learned vocabulary, terms, and content, in both languages for easy access. Students are able to independently reference the wall for information during any part of the school day. In our teaching practice, we also use visual aids, songs, actions, manipulatives, books, etc. to develop language in English and Chinese.