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In the Chinese language classroom, we teach simplified Chinese, and the primary focus is to develop language proficiency. We follow proficiency guidelines set by the American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). The emphasis on language proficiency enables our students to engage in increasingly sophisticated content learning in Chinese.
Goals and Principles of Chinese Language Immersion Instruction at CAIS
Our Chinese language immersion goals for students are:
- Proficiency in spoken and written Chinese
- Achievement of core academic competencies
- Chinese cultural competence
In order to achieve these goals, the following fundamental principles of Chinese language immersion instruction guide our practice:
- Instruction in the Target Language—100% of instruction within the Chinese language classroom takes place in the target language.
- Primacy of Language Proficiency—Curriculum and instruction in Chinese place primary emphasis on developing Chinese language proficiency. Chinese language proficiency is measured against the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012.
- Academic Content—Academic content serves as the vehicle through which Chinese language proficiency is developed. Achievement of core academic competencies through Chinese language may also at times be an appropriate objective. The level of achievement will depend upon one or more of the following factors:
- Chinese language proficiency
- Complexity of the content
- Previous content knowledge acquired in English
- Instructional strategies aimed at creating comprehensible input (sometimes referred to as “sheltered instruction”)
- Culture—Students’ ability to function comfortably, competently and confidently in a Chinese cultural environment is developed through:
- Curriculum content
- Modeling of appropriate cultural practices by faculty and staff
- Deliberately created environment
- Special events
- International programs
- Cognitive Benefits—Students gain cognitive benefits associated with second language proficiency that monolingual students do not. The cognitive benefits of second language proficiency have been demonstrated by a large and growing body of research. CAIS students enjoy these benefits in addition to second language proficiency and academic achievement. Annual standardized assessments of core academic competencies (i.e., ERBs) have consistently demonstrated that CAIS students achieve at or above the level of peer groups at suburban and independent single language schools.
One of CAIS’s strategic priorities has been the continuous improvement of our Chinese English dual language immersion curriculum. Aided by scholars and consultants from across the country, we have developed an innovative dual language immersion curriculum model that has drawn attention from around the country and around the world. Our teachers and administrators are regularly invited to present at educational conferences, and we receive frequent visits from educators around the globe who are interested in learning about our curriculum model.