INTL* has been able to provide an excellent immersion environment for developing students’ listening and speaking skills, with a clear understanding that at school, Chinese is just as important as English. We have policies and strategies that reinforce the practice of it and guarantee enough exposure to the oral form of the language.
It’s important to focus equally on reading and writing, creating a nurturing environment that not only encourages reading in all languages, but also helps to produce avid readers. To achieve that goal, it takes a partnership between teachers, students, and parents. There are many things parents can do at home to support our mission of enhancing our students’ reading ability and desire to read Chinese books. Here are a few ideas:
- Purchase and/or rent enough age and content-appropriate Chinese books at home and make them visibly and easily accessible.
- Purchase and or rent Chinese movies, or foreign movies dubbed and/or subtitled in Chinese and watch them with your child.
- Have your child tell you a story they read from a Chinese book on a regular base.
- Take them to the INTL library and Books & Me library to borrow books of their interest.
- Read a Chinese book with them, or at least pretend to do so, and ask for their help when you have or don’t have difficulty doing so.
- For higher grades, having a DIGITAL pen-pal, or an IM pal could be very helpful to motivate them to use written Chinese in real life context.
- Remind them to use the Chinese digital library and read with them.
- Encourage students to find Chinese websites of their interest, from which they could read to get information on a regular base.
- While we want everyone to play over the summer, we also feel that summer reading is important and it helps to keep up a child’s literacy
INTL is committed to providing more opportunities for students to have reading material that is both interesting and developmentally appropriate for their age level. The challenge is that in any Chinese immersion program, finding these materials that fulfill both needs can be difficult. Although this is a challenge, INTL has been working on ways to help improve Chinese literacy:
- Examined the Chinese portion of the library and made organizational improvements to encourage reading (adding and retiring books, having a dedicated part-time Chinese librarian who has helped to re-catalog books with Chinese characters and developing a more user-friendly system)
- Each student has access to a Chinese digital library
- Continue to build excitement about reading with such activities as special workshops on Classic Chinese Poetry during library hour.
- INTL has partnered with the Books & Me library (children’s Chinese library) to offer extra resources and services to our faculty.
- We have increased the volume and quality of the Chinese books displayed and sold at the Book Fair, especially for the books with traditional characters and Pinyin, which have been desired by the younger readers.
- Teachers have put added emphasis on reading for a variety of purposes and in different ways.
- During the China exchange trip, students were given the task to find and purchase their favorite book in a bookstore and bring them back to the INTL library.
- We will continue to encourage and experiment different reading programs to embrace reading: such as “book buddies”, i.e. higher grades read to lower grades. “I read it!” i.e. let students recommend a book for the library to purchase on a regular basis.
INTL will continue to work on opportunities to improve literacy. As we move into summer, I encourage our students to continue to read and make it a part of their daily lives.
P.S. - Chinese literate volunteer parents are always welcome in the library to help shelve and catalog new books!
"Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny." -- Thackeray
播種一個想法,收獲一種行為;播種一種行為,收獲一種習慣;播種一種習慣,收獲一種性格; 播種一個個性，你會收獲一個命運。 ---薩克雷