At YCIS, we aim to inspire a love of Chinese language and culture so that students desire to continue learning and using Mandarin long after they graduate.
The Chinese Studies program caters for a wide range of students with varied levels of Mandarin knowledge and ability, from beginners to heritage speakers. The Chinese curriculum for the Elementary and Middle School years (Grades K-8) is unique, research-based and carefully structured to build fluency in listening, speaking, reading and writing Mandarin. Students may also choose to learn either traditional or simplified Chinese characters beginning in First Grade.
During their Chinese lessons, students are immersed in language as well as culture. Students not only learn about Chinese culture, but they are able to compare and contrast it with Western culture. Students become comfortable viewing the world from both Eastern and Western perspectives. In Chinese Culture classes, students delve into major events, history and significant figures through hands-on activities, arts and crafts and stories, thereby gaining a deeper appreciation of an ancient culture and its modern influence in the world.
YCIS teachers are committed to motivating each child to learn to their full potential through a positive, encouraging and joyful learning environment. By the time YCIS students graduate, they should feel confident to converse, understand the people speaking around them, read a newspaper and be able to write different styles of Chinese writing, all based on their age-appropriate knowledge of the world. As with learning any subject, children develop their Mandarin language skills at their own pace and according to their own abilities and level of motivation.
In Kindergarten, the theme-based curriculum is designed to strengthen speaking and listening skills while introducing reading and writing through a warm, nurturing learning environment. Monthly themes introduce topics that are meaningful to young children such as family, holidays, seasons, animals, foods, and parts of the body, as well as the most important cultural events: the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Chinese New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival. Students learn through stories, music, arts and crafts, technology and other hands-on interactive learning approaches. Kindergartners spend at least two hours per day learning in Mandarin.
From Grades 1 to 8, we utilize our own leveled textbook series Liberate the Joy of Learning Chinese, additional language learning kits, an online learning platform, and assessment tools developed by Chinese language experts in our Chinese Curriculum Research Division in Hong Kong. Students learn interactively through a wide variety of approaches including role play, games, movement, performance, music, technology, arts and crafts, creative writing, cooking activities and so on. Students in Grades 1 to 5 spend at least two periods per day studying Chinese, while middle school students have Chinese lessons for an hour every day.
YCIS students further develop their Chinese communication skills outside of the time spent in language classes. Every year, most YCIS students in Grades 1-5 write and memorize speeches to compete in the Chinese Language Teachers Association of California (CLTAC) annual regional Mandarin Speech Contest held in San Francisco. Students also use their Chinese language skills in co-taught lessons, while planning bilingual school assemblies, and in preparing for and presenting Chinese cultural events. Art is also taught in Chinese.
Additional Chinese language support is available through our after-school Yew Chung Arts and Language Program (YALP) as well as in the Summer Camp, all taught by our Chinese-speaking teachers. The 5th Grade class travels each year to China during which they are immersed in Chinese culture, visiting significant cultural and historical sites as well as a sister YCIS school.