Language Development

A Dehong Student's Story

Lijie Deng in Grade 9 joined Dehong School when she was nine years old. Before she started learning English as an additional language at Dehong, she had already established a solid foundation of Chinese as her mother tongue. Lijie picked up Chinese from her parents and her school and felt most comfortable communicating in Chinese. At home and with friends, Lijie used Chinese to express her needs, ideas, and feelings.

In Dehong school, Lijie spent half of her week learning in Chinese-Medium Learning subjects (CML) and the other half learning in English-Medium Learning subjects (EML). She had blocks of time in either language so that she  was truly immersed in each language.

Lijie socialised and studied in a bilingual school, where both CML and EML classrooms were carefully designed to provide language-rich environments. This enabled Lijie to experience the world through Chinese or English.

Sometimes, Lijie found it easier to use Chinese to talk about friendship issues with her Chinese-speaking Banzhuren. However, as she became increasingly confident in English, she began to use both languages to express her thoughts, ideas, and opinions, communicating at a high academic level at ease.

Lijie knew that she would study most of her subjects in English from Grade 10 onwards. Her highly competent level of metalinguistic awareness and flexibility in switching between Chinese and English have made her confident and competitive for her future academic and career pathways.

Language Development

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Key points

  • Dehong follows the model of additive bilingualism, adding English to a solid foundation of students' Chinese.
  • Dehong's bilingual education creates separate immersion for Chinese and English.
  • Dehong's bilingual education leads to highly developed meta-linguistic awareness and code-switching competency.
  • Dehong students develop cognitive flexibility in this bilingual education.
  • Dehong students are able to work at the highest academic level in both Chinese and English.