ISA International School of Guangzhou, positioned as a fully licenced international school, offers an international continuum education from Early Years to Year 12. Our curriculum framework is based on the language development of our students, including mother tongue and their additional language. Whilst the main teaching language at ISA is English, we also focus on Chinese language learning. Our Chinese language program, which deeply integrates the Chinese National Curriculum and the International Baccalaureate Continuum, focuses on helping students to achieve high proficiency in both Chinese and English and gain deeper understandings of both cultures, empowering them to speak bilingually and fluently.

Intercultural integration

The mission of our Chinese education is to comprehensively enhance our students’ Chinese proficiency and establish a solid foundation for their Chinese learning.

ISA creates a multicultural learning environment, allowing students to learn from and take root in the profound Chinese culture through studying of the language. Our Chinese program, in integration with the Chinese National Curriculum, has formed a high-quality and coherent curriculum framework – the “Great Chinese” structure. We have developed our school-based textbooks – the Recitation Chapter and Reading Chapter and will continue to develop the Reading and Writing Chapter to provide our students with a rich variety of learning resources. We encourage extensive amount of reading both inside and outside of the classroom. We believe that reading helps students to quickly immerse themselves in traditional culture, form a sense of identity and belonging to the nation, so as achieve intercultural understanding, appreciation and respect.

Innovative learning approach

The ultimate goal of our Chinese program is to nurture students’ development. Our teaching and learning approach not only inherits the essence of traditional Chinese culture, but it also integrates the inquiry-driven learning method in IB education. Our students experience the diverse Chinese culture throughout the learning process and benefit from the best of IB and Chinese education.

The key focus of our teaching is to cultivate good learning methods and help students achieve conceptual understanding of the Chinese language. Through a variety of learning experiences, the students form conceptual understandings by constantly reflecting on their learning methods and analysing the knowledge they have learned.

Inquiry-based learning is a unique feature of the IB Continuum. Knowledge taught in the traditional way is not systematic and therefore makes it difficult for learners to form conceptual understandings. Our Chinese program retains the essence of traditional ways of teaching. It also accommodates different versions of textbooks and rearranges the textbooks in a way that it combines, compares and analyses content with common concepts. This helps students to form better conceptual understandings that are transformed into deeper understanding of knowledge. Students continuously reflect on their learning methods throughout the learning process, which gives them the opportunity to develop into learners with lifelong learning abilities.

We structured a “child-oriented” pedagogical model following the growth pattern of children. The model practices three core values: focus on child development, broaden aspects of the class and use high-quality textbooks. We have also set three objectives – excellent handwriting, excellent eloquence and skilful writing. We have now formed a relatively mature pedagogical model in class: classics recital – study of new materials – extracurricular reading – inquiry exhibition – evaluation and assessment – self-reflection. Our Chinese program is supported by local teaching resources and methods, emphasises cocurricular extension, and promotes reading and integration of “reciting, reading and writing”.

Our Chinese elective courses have blended more elements of traditional Chinese culture. We have also designed inquiry-based units and outdoor activities to provide students with opportunities to continuously explore, practise and outperform, truly achieving the objectives of international education.

By exposing our students to the traditional Chinese culture, we hope to enrich personal growth and facilitate understanding of the world and life. We offer classes on Guo Xue during club hours to let out students experience traditional cultural activities such as recitation, tea ceremony, incense ceremony, Guqin, calligraphy and traditional painting. The goal is to enable our students to learn and grow progressively not only in language, but also in terms of culture, mindsets and global awareness.

Strengthen the fundamentals and focus on development

“Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, is our destined end or way; but to act, that each tomorrow, find us father than today.” – Henry Longfellow. ISA strives to create a rich variety of learning options for children from different parts of the world and cultures. We embrace the uniqueness of every child, and respect and cherish the development of their individual talents and personalities.

Our Chinese classes are differentiated and stratified based on different levels to facilitate student discover of their potential. We value feedback not only because feedback assists teachers to reflect on their teaching, but more importantly, it allows students to better understand their learning progress and therefore form a more comprehensive and positive self-awareness. On the other hand, diverse and objective feedback also enables teachers to better understand students’ learning progress as well as help students to make timely adjustments in accordance with their strengths and shortcomings. To strengthen communication between parents and the school, each class has created chat groups and communication books to ensure that parents can receive timely feedback on their children’s learning progress.

Use of teaching materials

1. “Only the national is international”. Our students are exposed to Chinese classics since they were very young. Through activities such as reciting, understanding, listening, and acting of the classics, we hope to influence students’ moral behaviours by immersing them in these spiritual essences.  The Recitation Chapter of our school-based textbooks consists of selected Chinese classics such as ancient poetry, Mengxue Classics, children poetries and idioms. All are recited by students from Early Years to Year 12 before each class.

2. We believe that our teachers should be a beacon for students’ reading path ways. We have carefully selected the reading lists for our students, including books for parent-child reading, for teacher-student reading, for mandatory readings and for selected readings. The teachers provide reading guidance in class for literature, classics and picture books, and through activities such as reading sharing and reading appreciation, we hope to encourage open-mindedness, free expression and their passion in reading.

3. “Learn in class and benefit outside of class”. Our Chinese education is “based on textbooks but extends beyond textbooks” and “based in the classroom but extends beyond the classroom”. We emphasise connectivity between in-class reading and after-class reading to fully reflect the effectiveness of curriculum integration. We have set different reading objectives following the reading patterns of each year group. For the junior grades, the objective is to stimulate interests and perceive images; for the middle grades, the objective is to access information, imagine and associate; and for the senior grades, the objective is to learn to appreciate and analyse through aesthetic experiences. These objectives help us to evaluate students’ reading abilities in a systematic and scientific manner.  

4. Inquiry-based learning is a unique feature of the IB Continuum. We specifically designed inquiry-based units for our Chinese elective courses, and these focus on fostering good learning methods and help students achieve conceptual understanding of the Chinese language. Through a variety of learning experiences, the students are able to form conceptual understandings by constantly reflecting on their learning methods and analysing the knowledge they have learned.

5. Another highlight of our Chinese program is the differentiated and stratified teaching model. Students from K3 to middle school are divided into Class A, B, C and D based on their language proficiency.

Students that are native Chinese speakers (Class A) mainly use textbooks published by People’s Education Press (PEP). The non-native Chinese speakers, on the other hand, use YCT and Chinese textbooks for foreigners – Shuang Shuang. To make Chinese learning more interesting, practical and effective for the non-native speakers, we assess their Chinese proficiency and learning abilities before placing them in class. Students are divided based on their actual proficiency (Class B is for those who have lived in China for a long period of time, and have decent understanding of Chinese culture as well as decent listening, speaking, reading and writing skills; Class C is for those who have lived in China for a relatively long period of time, have little exposure to and understanding of Chinese culture, and possess basic listening, speaking, reading and writing skills; Class D is for those who have just come to China and have no cultural understanding and language skills). Each class adopts the appropriate textbook levels to ensure effective learning outcomes. 

Throughout the learning process, we also conduct periodic assessment to ensure that students are placed in the appropriate class compatible with their learning progress. This helps students to achieve joy and a sense of accomplishment in learning. In consideration of the various learning mentalities, interests and emotional demands of the students, we have also prepared supporting teaching materials with different topics, forms and contents to further stratify classroom activities and exercises to ensure that students find joy in learning and make continuous progress through the suitable assignments. 

We believe that our inter-cultural learning environment will help to enrich personal development, empowering students to remain vigorous, passionate and never stop pursuing their dreams.