Sponsored by Beijing City International School (BCIS). Located in Beijing’s CBD, BCIS lives by its motto: “Empowering and Inspiring Through Challenge and Compassion.” This not-for-profit, co-educational day school provides a personalized, inclusive international curriculum under the International Baccalaureate (IB) World School system, offering the PYP, MYP and DP to both expatriate and Chinese national students from Toddler to Grade 12. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Beijing City International School is a school offering a rigorous, cosmopolitan education to both Chinese and international students. It is also a school that is proud of its roots, and works hard to celebrate Chinese culture and heritage in as many ways as possible. To that end, Chinese language classes are compulsory for all students from the Toddler group through Grade 8, with each class receiving at least one period of Chinese daily (40 minutes for ECC/Elementary, 50 minutes for Secondary).
When students reach Grade 9, they can take up Spanish if they wish, but stopping formal Chinese class does not mean there will be no opportunity to engage in Chinese cultural activities. As part of the Enrichment Activity program, students have been able to take part in such activities as traditional Chinese drumming, folk dancing, singing, martial arts, storytelling, calligraphy, cooking and others. What’s more, the faculty takes full advantage of their downtown location, often taking students on field trips to local museums and other places of cultural interest, such as the Confucius Temple, the National Art Museum and local theaters. The fact is that a student at BCIS will always have chances to experience Chinese traditions, and make use of their Chinese language skills.
Within the IB Primary Years and Middle Years Programmes (PYP and MYP respectively), teachers at BCIS work closely with other departments to try and find connections that can be made in learning. This is known as transdisciplinary (PYP) or interdisciplinary (MYP) learning, and is one of the cornerstones of how the IB curriculum is implemented. For instance, if Children are learning about surveys and data collection in math, then the Chinese teachers might see an opportunity to integrate their Chinese by having them use their math skills to conduct another survey, but this time in Chinese. This happens across many subjects in school, sometimes throwing up connections that you might not expect!
Another great example of how the school celebrates and integrates Chinese culture into learning is its “Week Without Walls” (WWW). This event was previously called “Experience China Week” and sees every year group engage in a week-long activity list designed to get them more connected and appreciative of the traditions, values and heritage of our host nation. The Secondary School have their WWW in the autumn, while the Early Childhood Center (ECC) and Elementary School sections have theirs in spring. Take Grade 5, for example, who each year head off to the ancient walled city of Pingyao for several days to discover a side of China they might not get to see among Beijing’s glittering sky scrapers and wide ring roads. Grade 8 head north to Inner Mongolia for a special trip where they learn archery, ride camels and spend time together bonding. The younger learners in the ECC and lower Elementary will stay in Beijing, but make special visits to Chinese restaurants and Beijing’s hutongs. Each grade level has its own special set of activities. According to Secondary School Chinese teacher, Gong Qin:
“Integrating Chinese in the ways we do makes the learning real! Integration of language and culture can make students automatically connect their learning across different subjects and apply them into real life and develop their lifelong learning skills.”