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Hills first to offer junior bilingual Chinese program

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Jimboomba’s Hills International College is exposing its youngest students to immersive Chinese language teaching adding the language to its Primary Years Program (PYP) for 2018. It’s the first private school in Queensland to offer a Junior Bilingual Chinese Program.

Aiming to gradually increase exposure to the language, the school will have by 2022 an established immersion program, whereby students involved from Kindergarten to Year Six will be learning Chinese across the curriculum, five days a week.

“Not only is immersion one of the most effective ways to become fluent in another language, but it helps you to better understand your native language too. And when better to start this than in your child’s early learning years when they are able to soak up and absorb new learning with ease,” Hills International College Director of Teaching and Learning Julie-Anne Skelton.

Launching in term one of 2018, the Bilingual Program will be rolled out across five years and will be an option available to students from Kindergarten to Year Two, for them to undertake the program until Year Six.

This program is in addition to Languages Other Than English (LOTE) classes – where children receive exposure to the language in blocks – the Junior Bilingual Program’s aim is to teach Chinese in a variety of disciplines, such as Science and Mathematics.

Skelton said the new program would be the first of its kind offered to non-state Primary School students in Queensland.

“In the early stages, the Program will run as a separate stand-alone class for each year level, having students learn Chinese and in time applying their learning to select disciplines,” Mrs Skelton said.

“Over time we will progressively move towards a genuine immersion program, mapped more readily to our International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program’s Units of Inquiry.

“A bilingual program involves integrating two languages and using them to teach curriculum concepts, so that children can learn and understand in full another language other than their native.

“Understanding language application and its role in critical thinking is important for developing our student’s international mindedness.

“Our program is not just about learning a language, it’s also about immersing the students entirely in another culture – so that they build intercultural respect, appreciation and understanding from an early age.

To assist with the new Bilingual Program, Hills International College has partnered with The Confucius Institute in China – who will be sending one Chinese teacher and two teacher aides to the College to work alongside the current primary school teachers daily.

“These teachers will be valuable assets to our team, teaching both the Bilingual Program and our new LOTE class, as well as being heavily involved with our Early Learning Centre’s Kindergarten classroom,” Mrs Skelton said.

Mrs Skelton said opportunities for every primary student to extend their interest in a second language would be provided, with those not wishing to partake in the Bilingual Program being able to participate in the new Chinese LOTE class.

“Both options will provide our students with an opportunity to learn Chinese, while those in the Bilingual Program have a long-term focus on developing strong linguistic skills and understanding in both English and Chinese.”

The Bilingual Program together with Chinese LOTE will add to the current specialist lessons already offered at Hills International College Primary School including Physical Education, Information Technology, Japanese and Music – which are all part of the students’ weekly program.

With a strong focus on ‘educating global citizens’, Hills International College Primary School follows the new Australian National Curriculum and Queensland Essential Learnings, set within the framework of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (PYP), which aims to develop students’ ability to think critically, appreciate difference and feel compassion.

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