Is Your Child’s English Development on Track?
Determining your family’s “right language-fit”
English language schools have grown considerably over the past 10 years with the increasing demand for English in China, and world-wide. Since English is the preferred language for employment in aviation, media, computer programming, diplomacy and tourism, parents are looking to provide their children with advantages needed for future employment. Likewise, parents are beginning to understand that 21st Century job skills will require the workforce to be able to read, write and speak in English in order to gain employment with multinational companies, both within China and abroad.
What are the Options?
English language centers are the go-to choice for parents because they are readily available and can cater to both the child’s and the parent’s specific needs. Schools too have identified the need for English and are offering more English language learning time within their curriculum. Private and International schools, many of which identify as bilingual, have hired foreign teachers to teach English as an isolated subject.
For learning basic social English this method of teaching English has been successful, but progress is slow. With such a base, students will be able to hold a reasonable conversation but never progress to the higher levels of academic English required for most jobs in the future. The question remains: “How does one get to the academic language level?”
Achieving Academic Language Proficiency in Two Languages
In recent years, bilingual schools have gained greater prominence in China and worldwide. These schools teach in their mother tongue language and then gradually transition to English as a second language. As students transition to English they gain more academic English vocabulary, as classes are typically all taught in English by the time students reach middle school. Unfortunately, the mother tongue is often not reinforced, and students fall behind in academic language development in their first language. Accordingly, this language model does prepare students for study at western universities but does not support academic language development in their mother tongue.
Planning for the Future
Having social and academic language skills elevates job prospects for learners graduating into a workforce where communication, creativity, innovation and critical thinking skills are crucial. As parents, we need to decide on the quality of English language learning our children require and look for options that best prepare them for future entrepreneurship. While there are many language centers and private schools in China that are providing English language learning, we as parents need to be asking the right questions as to the quality of English language learning we want for our children!