World Languages

High School World Languages 

HKIS offers a broad range of classes to help students develop in the “Chinese Culture” Student Learning Result. HKIS recognizes that its students represent a diverse range of linguistic and cultural backgrounds along a continuum of proficiency and has determined that a two-track (or “stream”) approach – with distinct curricula – is appropriate to accommodate the vast majority of its learners. These streams have been named Mandarin as a Second Language (MSL) and Mandarin for Near-Native Speakers (MNN). Despite the advanced bilingualism of many of our students, HKIS does not expect age-peer native-language competency in its MNN track learners, nor does it attempt to model its curriculum on that of local schools.

For all its language learners, HKIS wishes to provide appropriate linguistic, informational, and socio-cultural knowledge to promote language and culture understanding as a vital skill for an increasingly globally connected world. We wish also for students to gain the foundation for an understanding and appreciation of China and its place in their lives and in the world.

For its MSL track learners, HKIS strives to develop in its students Mandarin oral competence as a tool for meeting age-appropriate functional and communicative needs and to begin to introduce them to important cultural references that define the society that surrounds them. Where Mandarin differs so greatly from the majority native language of our students – English – HKIS believes that students also require a grasp of language organization, which lies at the heart of all communication. HKIS also wishes to engender in its students the confidence and expectation that proficient mastery of Mandarin is by all means within every student’s grasp.

For its MNN track learners, HKIS stresses the continued development of oral expressive abilities as the foundation of advanced second language proficiency in Mandarin. A further emphasis is placed on the progressive mastery of the forms and purposes of effective writing, the strategies of the successful reader, and an expanding awareness of Chinese culture, history, and social institutions that will support their understanding of the Chinese speaking world and their appreciation of Chinese heritage.

Placement of a student in one of the two streams is made chiefly on the basis of linguistic criteria related to how knowledge of Mandarin has been acquired. Students who are proficient speakers of any Chinese language or who have significant linguistic exposure in Mandarin in childhood have a much richer inventory of linguistic intuitions on which to draw and are by nature much faster learners than those who are learning Mandarin as a wholly “foreign” language. In all cases, however, placement is made and reexamined after a variety of considerations, including the extent of linguistic reinforcement in the home, the presence of learning support in other areas, long-term success in the MNN program, or perceived imbalances in language skills.

Placement of students in Mandarin classes is based solely on performance on a placement test or the recommendation of an HKIS High School Mandarin teacher.