Putting Our Brains Into Chinese Studies

Putting Our Brains Into Chinese StudiesOver the November break, I had the opportunity to attend a workshop featuring John “the brain man” Joseph at the Western Academy in Beijing. His workshop offered great perspective on the acquisition of a second language through his explanations of brain processes.

According to Joseph’s levels of memory, in order to achieve long-term retention, of a second language for example, hours to a lifetime of exposure and usage are necessary. The goal of language learning (see brain images) is to retrieve the language to be able to use it. Rehearsing the language for mere minutes or even hours might only relegate your acquisition of the language to your working memory. This means that a student’s ability to rehearse the language has an expiration date.  This means that the language cannot spontaneously be recalled for use in the future.

To achieve the ultimate goal of transferring linguistic knowledge to long-term memory, it is important for students to study and review their vocabulary regularly. It is essential that students complete their homework assignments in a timely manner to maintain steady exposure to the language.

Mr. Joseph described the students’ “World Two” external world as “the world that is just outside of me. It is the world I learn about through direct experience.” Mr. Joseph also described “World Three” as “the external world that I learn about indirectly.” This is essentially the world that students learn about through much of their schooling. Joseph was adamant that teachers incorporate as much World Two education as possible to bring the World Three education to life. This is certainly something that the teachers in the Chinese department subscribe to. We aim to provide students with as many real world- direct experiences as possible.

In the IB Ab Initio class, during the unit on education, students traveled to Shenzhen University. Students toured the campus, including the sports facilities and dormitories, and interviewed the university students in order to compare the school life of a Chinese university students’ to their own lives as IB students. In our upcoming neighborhood unit, students will be asked to give each other a guided tour of the neighborhood. This would involve giving directions in Chinese, options for the mode of transportation and an explanation as to why their chosen establishment was worth visiting.

To read more stories about Shekou International School visit their website: www.sis.org.cn/why-choose-sis

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The Contributor

Shekou International School was established in 1988. It is dedicated to meeting the diverse educational needs of the expatriate community. SIS is an international school with an American- based curriculum. The school is governed by International Schools Services (ISS) of Princeton, New Jersey.

We offer a rigorous academic program to meet parents' high expectations. We have state-of-the-art facilities and cater to learners from nursery through high school. A rich mix of academics, athletics, and activities delivered by a world-class faculty ensure maximum learning for students.

The Elementary School and Nursery campuses are located in our Mountainside and Parkside buildings, in the beautiful Jing Shan residential area. Middle and high school classes are housed in our Bayside campus, which is adjacent to the Coastal Rose Garden residential complex.

Our high school offers a rigorous college preparatory program. SIS is an International Baccalaureate World School currently offering the IB diploma program to grade 11 students. The program will begin for grade 12 students in August 2011.

The language of instruction is English for all classes, with the exception of proficiency- leveled Mandarin classes. Additionally, SIS offers the French National Curriculum in grades K-5 in which the language of instruction in academic subjects is French.

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