Students who enroll in Clifford School's Elementary Bilingual program follow the regular National Chinese curriculum as well as a custom-made Western English curriculum. The students have five periods of Chinese curriculum and three periods of English curriculum each day.
The Elementary Bilingual English Program is primarily a language program working with students whose first language is not English. The majority of the class time is spent focusing on English Language Arts (listening, speaking, reading and writing). The program also follows some of the themes taught from the Chinese National Curriculum. The students learn the content in Chinese first and then learn it in English class as a language lesson. So, we are teaching some mathematics, science, and social studies units linguistically, not conceptually.
The Elementary Bilingual English Program curriculum was written by our staff and completed in 2008. It was based on a Massachusetts English language curriculum and adapted to suit our student’s needs. It continues to evolve as we learn new approaches and acquire new resources. The curriculum includes objectives and expectations for each grade level in the following areas:
The curriculum is broken into two sections, English Language Arts and Thematic Units. The English Language Arts Objectives are sequenced from grade one to grade six detailing learning outcomes for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Grammar, Phonics, Word Study and Information Literacy. The approach to teaching each of these sections differs and the approach used at the school are detailed in the curriculum document. In addition, we have specific Language Expectations for each grade level. To see these Language Arts Expectations click here.
The Thematic Units for each grade level have been chosen from the Math, Science, Social Studies, and “Social Development” curriculum/texts used in the Chinese Homeroom classes. These units have been identified and developed due to their continuity between grade levels, their value beyond the classroom, and their potential for English language development.
To ensure that the thematic units are being taught most effectively in the English classrooms, it is crucial to ensure they are being taught after the students have handled the units in their first language. This requires regular communication with the Chinese teachers at each grade level. To see the table of Thematic Units covered from grades one to six, click here.
The curriculum also outlines mandatory numbers of classes to be covered in some specific areas. For example, every class from G2 to G6 is expected to allocate at least 80 minutes to Guided Reading activities each week. As well we have set resources that we use to cover language development in certain areas. For example, we use the Raz-Kids program as an online resource for Home Reading activities each week.
We also have several appendices in the curriculum that cover information on best practices, how to best engage our students, as well as advice on reading lists, etc..
English Language Support (ELS) Program
The English Language Support (ELS) program has seven full-time English teachers. The ELS takes students whose English skills aren’t strong enough to handle regular homeroom work. The ELS program starts in Grade 2 and is available to students up to grade 6. Students are recommended by the English homeroom teachers, then assessed, and if necessary, placed in the ELS program. Students benefit from small classes (anywhere from 8 to 15 students). ELS teachers offer them an intensive English language program with the sole goal of returning them back to their regular English classes with the language skills needed to be successful in the home room class. ELS students are assessed four times during the school year to be placed in the ELS program or to return to their homeroom class. Over the years, students from the ELS, who return to the homeroom remain in the homeroom, with a 99% retention rate. While all learners are different, most students only require one or two semesters to return to the homeroom. ELS teachers work as a supportive team where they share resources and best practices.
To support the curriculum we have many different kinds of resources. We don’t use set text books, as our program is unique and there is no text book series that would be suitable for us to prescribe teachers to use. However, we do have many examples of different text books that teachers can use as a resource. These are available in the teacher resource rooms in our school library.
Here is a list of the different learning resources we have to support our teachers and students: