Education Insights | Planned and Purposeful Language

Planned and Purposeful Language: 

A Golden Thread to Develop Bilingual Learners

The mastery of language is a lifelong quest of discovery. It is an exciting and rewarding journey as it enables us to truly experience other cultures, to share universal values and to develop a more comprehensive perspective of the world.  In cities such as Shanghai, Tianjin and Hangzhou in 2018, there is a complex linguistic landscape. We cannot ignore that we live in a world where more than half of the world’s population speak two or more languages in everyday life. The extent of the language proficiency in the languages employed by users varies somewhat due to specific requirement and usage. In some instances, these may be the essential basic inter-communicative language utterances required to speak with friends and family overseas or for essential routine work purposes. In other cases, the communication may be technical or related to a specific professionor field of study.
As a linguist, I am somewhat prone to sharing my passion for language and have been met with responses such as “Oh! I was never any good at languages at school”, or “language learning is too hard, so I gave it up to focus on other studies”.  The root cause of these feelings often being a negative learning experience in the classroom. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore that English and Chinese both hold a prominent position as the leading languages required by 21st Century global citizens.
English has been embraced as the standard means of communication for speakers of different first languages, and Chinese is the most widely spoken language with over 1.5 billion users.
“English is the most widely used ‘second’ and ‘learning’ language in the world, used for international communication in various fields like aviation, business, internet, science and technology to name only some”

In our bilingual schools, we aim to equip young people to have the knowledge, skills and understanding to use Chinese and English with equal fluency and to demonstrate in-depth understanding commensurate with their peers across all areas of learning. Our pedagogical approach allows for holistic language development where language is a golden thread that allows for effective communication; so that learners can share their thinking in a low-anxiety yet intellectually challenging environment. We recognise that any journey to true bilingualism will be a different experience for each individual as the context of their prior language exposure will be diverse in both Chinese and English.
Our model of planned and purposeful language acquisition starts from the individual’s level of proficiency and links the learning across disciplines and languages in meaningful contexts that enable learners to think deeply and apply subject skills alongside language development. Students will progress and acquire the vocabulary, grammar and skills proficiency including creative thinking, analysis and discussion. This will allow them to use the additional language in context and depth. Our curriculum is designed to light a spark and imprint the desire to learn and to love language.

Simon Ruscoe-Price is currently the Director of Academics (English) for Wellington College China. Simon has over twenty-five years experience in education as a school leader, teacher trainer and as a leader in education reform. After having served nine years as Director of Specialism focusing on language, culture and diversity at a high school in Suffolk, Simon took his first step into international education as Deputy Director of a national school improvement programme for an overseas government in the United Arab Emirates. Simon then moved to India to implement a specialist international curriculum delivering academic excellence across a group of schools. Simon also worked as the Course Director of a prestigious residential international summer school programme in the UK providing language courses for overseas students. Before Simon joined Wellington College China as Director of Language in August 2016, he was the founding Head of a school in Sussex.

Simon graduated from Anglia Ruskin Cambridge and the University of Montpellier with a BA Honours Degree in Humanities and Social Studies majoring in French and Economics. Simon has a PGCE teaching qualification from the University of Reading and an NPQH from the National College of school leadership and a post-graduate degree in leading change in education. His understanding of international curriculums and his passion for child-centred learning practice will nurture a culture which fosters excellence.