Thu, Jul 30, 2009 - Page 8 News List

[LETTERS]

Notes from Bilingual School

Nowadays there are two types of government schools in Taiwan: Chinese and bilingual. A government Chinese school offers basic classes (math, science and history) in a Chinese-language setting.

A government bilingual school — a school that allows students with expat parents to study in English and Chinese — offers the same classes as the Chinese-language schools but are taught in an English-language setting.

Having a father who works at the Hsinchu Science Park has allowed me to attend the Hsinchu Science Park Bilingual School. I want to share some of my experiences and observations after four years there.

In Grade 4, my second year at the Bilingual School, my friends and I would see lots of kids from the Chinese Department — students not taking English studies — walking around the running tracks. We were really curious about them because we didn’t know them.

One day, when our class was playing soccer during Physical Education class, we heard someone shouting. We stopped playing and tried to find out the source of the noise. It was the “Chinese kids.” When we listened closer, we found out that they were complaining about how bad we were playing. Some boys in our class insulted them back in English.

The kids in the Chinese Department were confused by this and started asking each other what we meant.

This incident made me think about how lucky I am to speak Chinese and English.

During Grade 6, I started to sometimes wonder why some students were in the Bilingual School at all.

An example of this was one of my classmates. He was pretty good in most subjects, such as Chinese, math and science, but when it came to English class, he usually said: “It’s so boring.”

He would complain during English class because he wasn’t good at English.

Actually, he was not the only one in my class who did this. A few others are also good at Chinese but bad at English. Do these students really want to be in a bilingual setting?

The Bilingual School’s emphasis is allowing students to learn and understand more about the English language. Some students don’t want to be in the Bilingual Department since they don’t understand or enjoy the language; these students belong in a Chinese-language setting.

Throughout Grade 3 to Grade 6, I was very surprised at the extent to which my classmates enjoyed the “latest trends” that come from the West.

One example of this was the number of girls in my class who read the popular American novel Twilight. The boys — including me — in my class also enjoyed new American music artists and video games. Most of the boys in the class were crazy about a video game series called Halo (again, from the West). It was always on our “must-play list.”

The point I am making is that even though they are living in Taiwan, students at my school have developed these Western trends. Maybe it’s because of the Internet, classmates who “study” these trends or quite possibly just from learning in a foreign, English-language school environment. Overall, these trends are great for entertainment but bad for concentrating on studies and tests.

Do I enjoy being at the school? Yes. The Bilingual School environment provides friends, entertainment and English courses that you cannot find in other schools. It might be a little hard to get used to this environment if it is your first year in Taiwan, and the compulsory Chinese courses can be difficult. Still, I’m glad that the Bilingual School provides other courses of interest such as computers, art and music.

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