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Is Int'l school the only way out for non catontese speaking children in hk?

  1. #1
    fatchai is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Sai Wan Ho

    Unhappy Is Int'l school the only way out for non catontese speaking children in hk?

    hi all:

    i need some advice from any parents here. i m a native hong kong and my wife is a non Cantonese speaker (Vietnamese). Also we have a son just turned 2 years old. Even english isn't our mother tongue, English becomes our main language of communicating between me, my wife, and my son. The only chance my son can hear Cantonese are perhaps on tv, playing in the playground or visiting my mother. Right now i need to look for kindergarten for my son next year when he is 3 years old. I know some kinder gardens offer both normal or intl path for their parents to choose. Now my question is... should i admit my son to attend the normal path or intl path? if i admit my son to the intel path, does it mean he can only enter the intl school next time? (eg pri school) however if he enters the normal path, i m worry that he may be isolated by other students because he can't talk to them. In addition, he may not able to pick up the school materials as fast as compare to the other students? Entering the intl school is a long term commitment. i don't want to see my son can't continue his study in the school when i can't support him next time. It will be difficult for him if he needs to go back the local school later. So i need to plan carefully for him now.

    Any advices are welcome

  2. #2
    Sheilamay is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    OOOh tricky. If you put him in an English medium kindergarten now, there is NO chance that he could enter a Chinese speaking primary school. He would just be too far behind. Whereas if you put him in a Chinese medium kindergarten... and Canto. primary school, there is still a possibility of transferring him to english speaking school later. But you have to a) keep english around at home b) teach him to read. Never mind teaching him english grammar etc. Just get him reading - and everything else will fall into place. But a lot of the Chinese kindergartens do not really teach phonics and reading - they just teaching english like they chinese (memorizing random groups of letters). So it's really important you get the reading moving yourself.
    This way - in the future you still have the choice of a) chinese language primary and secondary at local government school. b) english medium local government/private school c) international school.

    My children went through chinese primary and then english secondary - we don't speak chinese at home.

  3. #3
    fingerscrossed is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Tin Hau

    I was born and raised in Australia and my parents spoke to me in Cantonese at home. I was of course exposed to a lot of English on TV but didn't get a chance to 'use' it becaue my parents used Cantonese around the house. The moment I started kindy (at age 5) I picked up English and Cantonese seemed like a secondary language because I only used it at home and when visiting relatives.

    What I'm trying to say is the moment your child enters school, he or she will acquire the language every other child speaks at school because this is the way to survival. If you put your child in a local school, he'll pick up the Cantonese really quickly.

    At the moment, my son (20mths) understands English more than Chinese (I use English at home) but I eventually plan on sending him to an English medium local primary school to acquire the Chinese (which I think is harder to learn than English) and a 'billingual' kindergarten to begin with.

    And I totally agree with Sheilamay that developing an interest in reading is so important for the child.

    Last edited by fingerscrossed; 10-08-2009 at 10:15 AM.

  4. #4
    fatchai is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Sai Wan Ho

    thanks all for your advice. now i have better ideas after listening to you guys. and i shall just put my son into a normal kindergarten so he can pick up both Chinese and English at the same time.

    Last edited by fatchai; 10-08-2009 at 10:22 AM.

  5. #5
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Sai Kung

    my husband and i have beed really struggling with this same decision.

    my husband is local chinese, i'm canadian. to me, it is VERY important that my children be able to speak cantonese. at home we mostly use english.

    i want my kids to be able to speak cantonese for a few reasons:
    1) communication with grandparents. to me, this is essential. i would hate for my children not to know their grandparents, and visa versa, simply because we couldn't be bothered to ensure my children were bilingual.
    2) cherishing BOTH cultures that created them. english is essential to understanding where i come from, just as cantonese is essential for understanding their father. i think that both are equally important and should be cherished.
    3) future job prospects. being fluent in more than one language will only help in the future as globablisation continues.

    we decided on a local kindergarten. no int'l stream/local stream... TOTALLY local. my son LOVES IT! we are lucky with where we live as there are quite a few expat children that also attend the same kindergarten. my son went for 1/2 day last year, and now we have decided on full day for him this year, simply to have him exposed to as much cantonese as possible. it's worked wonders. my son now happily informs me how to say things in chinese and i often hear him singing away in chinese trying to teach his younger sister the words to the songs.

    as i said, we have really struggled with the decision of what to do after kindergarten.

    the conclusion we came to was this:
    it is far easier for me to continue teaching/speaking english to my kids and for them to learn cantonese at school than it would be for them to learn english at school and then try to pick up cantonese at home.

    as such, we have decided to enroll the kids into a local primary school, at least for the first few years, and see how it goes. if at any time i feel like my children are struggling with it, we will reconsider.

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