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Bi-lingual kindergarten - should I?

  1. #1
    notmyaisle is offline Registered User
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    Bi-lingual kindergarten - should I?

    I'm applying for Kindergarten for both of my children and I have the option of putting the youngest in either bi-lingual or English only class.
    He'll be just 3 when he starts but I'm in a dilemma which class to put him in. Nobody at home speaks Mandarin but, might it be good to "submerge" him into a language at a young age?

    Just wanted your thoughts....

  2. #2
    spockey is offline Registered User
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    No one at home in our household speaks Mandarin either. But our son has Mandarin at school twice a week. We've noticed a difference in his speech patterns and sounds on those days... so YES! I reckon, it'd be great to be in a Mandarin Immersion/Bilingual programme especially if you are planning to apply for a local school.

    We love his current nursery but are definitely considering one next year with a Mandarin Immersion/Bilingual programme. Found one but still deliberating because we aren't convinced of the benefits of the local school system.

  3. #3
    Buckeroo is offline Registered User
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    If you can, by all means!

    While both hubby and I know "some" Mandarin, we don't speak it at home (nor anywhere else we don't have to, for that matter!). Our son is currently at a bilingual kindy. When he started last year, he spoke not a single word of Mandarin; now, he can carry simple conversations, recognize some Chinese characters, recite a few Tang poems (!), and sing countless songs in Mandarin.

    There are quite a number of non-Chinese kids in his class and from what I could hear, most of them speak Mandarin really well. At the kindy's "graduation" ceremony last year, the non-Chinese K3 grads even delivered speeches in straight Mandarin! How cool was that.


    We don't know how long we'll be here in HK for and as long as we are here, but I figure we should maximize the opportunity to learn and be exposed to Mandarin.

    Read the excerpt below taken from Raising Bilingual Children: Fact or Fiction? by Christina Bosemark, founder of the Multilingual Children's Association --

    "I can see two languages, maybe, but more than that is too much."

    Considering how much babies have to learn in their first years of life, another language really doesn't add much to the load. As long the child is getting regular interactions in the second (or third) language, there won't be problems. There is a reason why a two-year old child has fifty percent more synapses than an adult! Also, even if your child does not end up speaking all the languages, don't underestimate the value of a passive language, i.e. understanding it but not yet speaking it. If you already understand a language it is magnitudes easier to learn it later in school or as an adult, compared to someone who'd never heard it before. So, even 'just' understanding another language is most definitely not a wasted effort.

  4. #4
    notmyaisle is offline Registered User
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    Thank you both.
    It just occurred to me after Spockey's comment - would it affect his chances of getting into ESF school. Big sister is (hopefully) going to ESF next September and I know siblings get priority but, would the fact that he would understand/speak some Mandarin scupper his application?

  5. #5
    spockey is offline Registered User
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    From the horse's mouth i.e. a woman who has taught at an ESF primary school for ten years, what matters is that the child speaks good English. She told me that being in an ESF kinder doesn't even guarantee a place as they prioritise the child's English ability. As long as your child is a native English speaker, Mandarin is simply a foreign language, not even a second language, i don't think it would matter. Of course, if you are a local and Chinese, where English is obviously a second language, this complicates things a bit. But, as English speaking foreigners or locals where Chinese is a foreign language, unless there is a case of a school being oversubscribed, chances are pretty good... This i gathered from speaking to this woman. Unless of course, you are applying for Discovery College... then Mandarin would be an added advantage (This is simply based on reading about that school on the website)!

  6. #6
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    my personal opinion....

    why the heck not???? what better gift can you give your child than the ability to communicate in more than one language???

    i cannot think of any.

  7. #7
    notmyaisle is offline Registered User
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    Great.

    Thanks for your replies!

  8. #8
    Gabriel ma is offline Registered User
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    My little boy (2 years old) is studying at a Bilingual nursery school. He could say bye-bye in 4 languages (Cantonese + mandarin + english + Japanese). There are 2 teachers in the classroom, 1 is a local Chinese and 1 is a NET. And he also has 2 Mardarin lessons per week. Furthermore, he has learnt some Japanese from his classmates (some of them are from Japan)!

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