Speak, Write and Read in Chinese
IMS Chinese Programme
IMS is a Dual-Language School, where Chinese culture and language are integrated throughout every aspect of the child’s experience. Every classroom, from Foundation to Upper Elementary, is guided by two teachers, one who always addresses the children in English while the other always speaks Mandarin. In this complete and consistent Dual-Language environment, the child is surrounded with opportunities to acquire language naturally throughout each day. Full-time exposure to two languages along with multi-sensory language materials allow children to effortlessly absorb and experience each as a “living language” through day to day life in the classroom.
The young child craves language to be able to communicate and describe his world. Spoken language is the foundation for all creation of language in the child, and opens the door for future learning. Dr. Montessori discovered that children universally create language directly from what they absorb from their surroundings. As spoken language serves as a foundation for the child’s later facility of reading and writing, emphasis is placed on establishing a solid oral-auditory experience first by the Chinese teacher. Children initially learn to adapt to hearing the living language through their daily routines in their dual-language classroom.
Children are introduced to vocabulary through replica objects and Classified Picture Cards. At this age, they need to see and feel things to process new information so if the real object is available, we would invite them touch and experience it to gain a more meaningful connection. Because Chinese is not phonetic, the progression to reading happens differently. Each Chinese character is a puzzle word that can be memorised visually like an image from a young age. At IMS, we use traditional characters because we believe a child should be able to associate and connect language with his greater surroundings in Hong Kong.
The hands-on materials in the Casa environment provide the child with an abundance of practice beforehand so that when he goes to use the pencil to write, he is prepared, eager, and ready. IMS has pioneered these special Chinese Montessori materials for very young children to learn how to write simple to complex characters. This is an ideal time for a child to trace these characters, as the innate love of repetition for mastery drives the child to synthesise this information. Emphasis at this stage is placed on establishing correct stroke order and solidifying the pictorial images of the fundamental characters through tactile impressions.
One of the key differences between Elementary and Casa is that the 6-12 child conveys a strong preference to work in groups. The child becomes intensely social and to match this development need, lessons are nearly always given to a group. At this level, Chinese is also added as a daily specialist subject in addition to the dual language environment. These 45 minute lessons are given in small groups targeted at the Chinese language level and ability of each child. Emphasis is placed on growing a language learner who is comfortable and confident in all aspects of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The curriculum uses specific textbooks and leveled readers to allow tracking of progress, along with many multi-sensory materials to extend the student’s language acquisition. Retaining and writing characters from memory is a new and critically important part of learning at this stage.
IMS graduates have amongst the strongest Chinese language skills of international schools in Hong Kong, especially those who have been with IMS from Foundation. IMS Graduates tend to preferentially choose further education in Hong Kong schools with strong Chinese language programmes.
No one but a child can construct his own machinery and so learn to perfection as many languages as he hears spoken about him”Maria Montessori - The Discovery of the Child