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What is Bilingual Education? How Does It Impact Our Children?

24 Jan 2024
What is Bilingual Education in Hong Kong?

Bilingual education is a dynamic approach to learning that embraces the use of two languages as a medium of instruction. From fostering language proficiency to nurturing cognitive abilities and promoting cultural understanding, bilingual education plays a major role in shaping young minds. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of bilingual education, and its impact on the development of our students.

Key Takeaways

  1. Bilingual education is when a school emphasises teaching in two languages, with the goal of helping students gain fluency and comprehension in both languages.

  2. Bilingual education has several benefits for early learners, including enhanced cognitive development, improved academic achievements, and better social and cultural skills.

  3. A balanced bilingual education, like what Invictus School Hong Kong provides, equips students with the linguistic skills necessary for success in a globalised world.

What Exactly is Bilingual Education?

Dual language program at Invictus School Hong Kong
Bilingual Education in Hong Kong is when a school emphasises teaching in two languages: English and Mandarin. The main goal of bilingual education is to help students gain fluency and comprehension in both their native and second language.

In some cases, transitional bilingual education only lasts for a portion of their school life, while in others, it may be a long-term commitment to developing students' language skills.

This educational method is most commonly implemented in international schools, which have a diverse population of students from all over the world. Bilingual education tends to promote cultural diversity, future opportunities, and global awareness among students.

Invictus School Hong Kong uses a syllabus adapted from the UK National Curriculum and HK School-based Chinese curriculum. Equal emphasis is placed on each language during the earlier grades, giving students constant exposure to language patterns, vocabulary, and sentence structure. This helps them develop a more flexible and adaptable skillset, leading to quicker comprehension and understanding.

Is There An Impact of Bilingual Education on Young Minds?

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Several studies have shown that constant exposure to two languages at an early age significantly helps in development. Here are some of the major benefits that bilingual education brings:

Cognitive Benefits: Children who were exposed to a bilingual environment at an early age demonstrated greater cognitive flexibility and problem-solving skills compared to their monolingual counterparts. Training the brain's ability to switch between languages helps develop long-term cognitive benefits, such as enhanced executive function, multitasking prowess, and heightened mental flexibility. This can be measured by the increase in academic performance, with students showcasing improved reading and writing skills compared to those who have only been taught in one language.

Cultural Understanding: Through the acquisition of two languages, children gain a deeper understanding of diverse cultures, traditions, and perspectives. This heightened cultural awareness fosters tolerance, empathy, and a global perspective. It equips young learners with a strong sense of personal and cultural identity, and builds meaningful connections with people from various backgrounds.

Social Development: Children in bilingual environments tend to have more self-confidence not only in using their language skills, but also in their social interactions. They become more adaptable and open-minded, comfortable navigating diverse social settings. Bilingual education nurtures social intelligence, nurturing well-rounded individuals who thrive in a multicultural world.

Overall, bilingual education has a significant positive impact on young minds. This style of dual-language education prepares students to succeed in an increasingly interconnected and globalised world.

What Makes A Bilingual International School in Hong Kong Effective?

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For a bilingual school to really stand out in Hong Kong, it needs to take measures to provide opportunities and special attention to students. Here are some important things for a school to prioritise when pursuing bilingual education:

Supportive Teachers and Environment:
A good teacher is the bridge between the school and the student. Having reliable and qualified educators is vital for a bilingual school to be truly special. In Invictus School Hong Kong, our educators are fully fluent in either English or Mandarin. They each have a teaching degree or advanced diploma in said language, and combine their experience to provide a bilingual learning environment for students. The core subjects are taught by bilingual teachers, using internationally-recognised curricula to further a student's education.

Having such an environment is vital to the success of a bilingual education program. Invictus School Hong Kong dedicates itself to providing a holistic, culturally diverse, and globally applicable education. Our lessons are delivered by highly qualified teachers in a supportive and personalised learning environment, in order to let our young learners excel and develop lifelong learning habits.

Balanced Language Exposure:
Achieving bilingual proficiency necessitates a balanced exposure to both languages. A bilingual school should ensure that one language does not overpower the other during instruction. One method we use to increase exposure to both languages is by conducting assemblies in both English and Mandarin. Striking this equilibrium enables students to develop a strong command of both languages, enhancing their ability to communicate effectively in diverse contexts.

Long-term Commitment: 
Bilingual education is not a fleeting endeavour but a long-term commitment. It requires ongoing dedication to nurturing language skills and fostering a bilingual mindset among students. Schools must be prepared to invest in resources, professional development, and infrastructure to sustain this commitment over the years.

At Invictus School Hong Kong, our bilingual IEYC, IPC and Cambridge curriculum is an ongoing endeavour. Our schools have a healthy combination of both English and Mandarin throughout the entire syllabus, ensuring that our students are always able to keep up with both languages.

How Invictus School Hong Kong Makes a Difference

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Invictus School Hong Kong takes deliberate and strategic steps to ensure it stands out as a bilingual international school. Starting from kindergarten, we teach a balance of 50% English and 50% Mandarin, using traditional Chinese characters. Once students move on to Primary school, that ratio changes to 70% English and 30% Mandarin.

With a strong commitment to fostering holistic development, we go above and beyond to create a nurturing environment that empowers our bilingual learners to thrive in a multicultural world. Here are some of the measures and initiatives that set us apart:

World-Renowned Academic Programmes
Bilingual international schools use programmes that are internationally recognised, allowing a student's certifications to last beyond their school life and be applicable anywhere. These include popular curricula like the International Baccalaureate (IB) or Cambridge IGCSE/A-level, which is applicable to colleges and universities all across the world. At Invictus Secondary School, we focus on delivering the Cambridge International Curriculum through our bilingual program. This globally renowned curriculum is the world's most popular international qualification, and students are able to choose subjects that are in line with their future aspirations.

Fostering Cultural Opportunities
Children in our international school are part of a multicultural community. They are taught adaptability from their youngest years and further cultivate this skill as they progress till graduation. Growing up in a multicultural school environment helps students develop communication skills since they are given opportunities to interact with other children from all over the world from day one. Invictus School Hong Kong has students from all over the world, from over 40 nationalities, giving students plentiful opportunities to form connections with other cultures.

Preparing Students for Global Citizenship
In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability to navigate diverse cultures, communicate across borders, and understand global issues is paramount. Invictus School Hong Kong recognises the need to equip our students with the skills and perspectives needed to become responsible global citizens.

We believe that education extends beyond the classroom, and our role is not just to impart knowledge but also to instil a sense of social responsibility and a global perspective. Invictus School Hong Kong actively encourages students to engage in community service initiatives and cultural immersion programmes. These experiences help students develop empathy, cultural sensitivity, and a sense of duty towards making a positive impact on the world.

Through our curriculum, we nurture a generation of global citizens who are well-equipped to address the complex challenges and opportunities of our interconnected world.

A Balanced Education at Invictus School Hong Kong

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A bilingual education plays an essential role in moulding culturally adaptable and aware individuals. At Invictus School Hong Kong, students are exposed to a high-quality bilingual curriculum that equips them with the linguistic skills necessary to thrive in a globalised world.

To learn more about Invictus School Hong Kong and to experience our campus first hand, book a tour with us and discover the wonderful opportunities awaiting your child.