Philosophy and FAQs
Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience.
As members of an international school and community we endorse this statement by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Learning languages encourages students to respect and to understand other cultures as well as heightens the awareness of one’s own culture. It also enhances divergent thinking and self-motivated learning. Language learning equips students to participate more actively in the global community and to be more adaptable. Chinese is particularly important at HKIS since Hong Kong is part of China.
Literacy is built upon a foundation of spoken language competence; therefore, we believe that oral communicative language should rest at the heart of language instruction. Pictographic and ideographic characters are introduced from R1. Reading is gradually introduced, once students develop a basic semantic foundation, followed by writing. We also believe that the central goal of language learning should be the communication and exchange of ideas, perceptions and needs, both orally and in writing.
The HKIS Chinese Studies Program fully embraces the different needs of our learners. Because acquiring an additional language is dependent upon multiple factors, the HKIS program places a differentiated focus on the broad areas of reading/writing, listening/ speaking and culture dependent upon the learner. Regardless of emphasis, the aim for the HKIS Chinese Studies Program is to develop communicatively competent and culturally enriched students in Mandarin (Putonghua).
- How can I help my child improve in this subject, especially when I don’t know the language?
- How much time should my child be studying Chinese outside of the normal school day?
- So many of my child’s classmates continue their studies by hiring tutors. Does my child need this to successfully learn Chinese?
- How much Chinese language instruction will my child receive per week?
- I have questions about my child’s level and stream placement. Who could I speak to about this?
Show an interest in your child's Chinese studies by getting involved!
Ask them to teach you or the family a word/phrase at the dinner table.
As you walk around town, play games with your child to see how many Chinese words they recognize and might be able to tell you about.
Ask your child to write and post the Chinese words for everyday items around the house such as the door, table, computer, etc, and the whole family can practice using these words on a daily basis.
Sit with your child as they work through their Chinese homework – shows a genuine interest by asking about what they are doing.
Visit cities and places where your child can use a Chinese word, phrase or even read numbers written in Chinese. Go to restaurants, markets, exhibitions and shops.
Join HKIS's free Mandarin lessons for adults in our community, offered twice a year!
There is no standard response to this question as it largely depends on the learner’s background, interest, level of study and type of support in the home. The important success factor for learning any new language is the consistent and regular daily practice of skills – speaking, reading, listening and writing. As a rough guideline: Middle and High School students should spend about the same amount of time on Chinese as they do on their other subjects. For younger learners, time spent on Chinese will vary due to age and level. A guiding principle for the younger learners is for parents to help them get on the teacher’s website for review purpose and not to turn learning Chinese into an arduous task.
The answer is emphatically ‘no.’ Under normal circumstances, no student should be in a position to require additional tutoring to be able to learn Chinese. Utilizing your child’s teacher and a regular regimen of good studying habits with support at home is all that’s required. However, there are students and families who wish to strengthen one or two skill areas by securing structured tutoring. At the end of the day, these choices are personal and should be made based on the family’s values and vision for their child. However, it should never be the case that a tutor is necessary to complete homework.
The first person to speak with should be your child’s current Chinese teacher. Placement is never an exact science and an open discussion about the student’s demonstrated strengths and skills with their teacher should be a first start.