We offer bilingual education.

Bilingualism at Tessa International School

As communities worldwide become more interconnected, bilingualism has emerged as a crucial asset, enriching individuals’ lives in myriad ways. Bilingual instruction is also unparalleled compared to other learning strategies and has proven tremendously beneficial to students. 

At Tessa, bilingualism is one of the three core pillars of our school philosophy that craft our educational approaches. We challenge our students in English, French, Mandarin, or Spanish, empowering them to reach their full potential. 

Benefits of Bilingualism

Beyond facilitating cross-cultural communication, early exposure to bilingual education also offers a wealth of cognitive and academic advantages. 

  • Bilingualism improves executive functioning and builds cognitive connections in the brain – the parts responsible for multitasking, memorizing, focusing, and planning. Findings show that bilingual children are on average 6.5% more efficient in their thinking skills than monolingual children. 
  • Researchers at American University show that by the end of middle school, students in dual-language programs were performing one grade level higher on reading assessments than their peers who were not enrolled in these programs. 
  • In a large-scale study of Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, and Grade 1 students, bilingual students outperformed monolingual students in mathematical reasoning and problem solving.

Learn more about advantages to have a bilingual brain through the video below:

Our Immersion Progression Model

Bilingualism is integral to every stage of the education experience at Tessa. To ensure that our students develop strong language skills in both English and the target language, the Immersion Progression Model is strategically designed and applied. For an overview, our 80:20 immersion (Preschool) and 50:50 dual-language (Primary School) teaching approach is designed to promote students to become fully bilingual and biliterate. 

80:20 Immersion Stage: From Nursery through Kindergarten, the majority of instruction (80%) is conducted in the target language, allowing students to build strong, life-long foundations in the language.

“Bilingualism is an experience that shapes our brain for a lifetime.”

– Dr. Gigi Luk, the associate professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education

50:50 Dual Language Stage: Starting in Grade 1, students will receive instruction and absorb knowledge in English and the targeted language equally in order to gain proficiency in both. 

To meet this ideal, different language teachers – all of whom are native speakers of the language they teach – regularly collaborate to exchange their classroom observations and enhance the learning experience. Our teachers not only teach the language but also teach content through the target language, which enables students to gain linguistic competence while making academic progress in core subjects, including Science, Social Studies, Language & Literacy, and Math.

 

Check out this short video of our students talking about bilingualism: 

 

The power of bilingualism is undeniable, conferring a multitude of advantages that improve individuals’ lives and enhance society as a whole. By embracing bilingualism, our students are prepared to navigate the complexities of the globalizing world with confidence and proficiency.

 

Are you ready to explore the only international leading private school in Hoboken? 

Contact Tessa International School to learn more! 

A boy is reading a book.

How Bilingual Children Learn to Read

It is a common misconception that bilingual students might lag behind their monolingual peers in reading proficiency. In fact, decades of research have proved that bilingual students may become advanced readers and show advantages over their peers in a single-language learning environment. With encouragement and practice, bilingual children are able to achieve full biliteracy! 

How Bilingualism Puts Readers at An Advantage

A bilingual student is reading.

Bilingual education enables students to develop key components of successful reading.

Metalinguistic Awareness Development

Research has shown that bilingual children possess more elaborate reading strategies than monolingual children, presumably due to higher metalinguistic skills. 

Metalinguistic awareness refers to the ability to reflect upon and manipulate the structure of language. It is a set of skills that are related to multiple linguistic elements, including phonological, morphological, syntactic, and lexical awareness. To some extent, bilingual children can transfer these skills involved in learning one language to another, consequently accelerating their language learning.

Literacy Acquisition

As bilingual children develop their metalinguistic skills and language proficiency, they can gain further advantages in literacy acquisition. Exposure to multiple languages from a young age enables them to better understand the word structure and build a broader vocabulary range. These foundational capabilities could explain the finding that bilinguals tend to spell more complex vocabulary words in later grades.

Students in dual-language immersion programs perform as well as, or better than, their peers in core academic content areas by late elementary school. […] By the end of middle school, students in dual-language programs were performing one grade level higher on reading assessments than their peers who were not enrolled in these programs.”

Researchers from American University, 2016

Cognitive Development

Bilingualism fosters cognitive development, providing students with a robust cognitive reserve. Bilingual individuals typically exhibit stronger working memories and attention spans, contributing to academic and behavioral enhancements. Moreover, their ability to switch between languages cultivates flexible thinking and problem-solving skills. By navigating between different linguistic systems, bilingual students become adept at critically evaluating and resolving complex tasks.

How to Help Bilingual Students Gain Reading Fluency

Our teacher helps students in literacy acquisition.

With sufficient support, students can boost their reading abilities in both languages.

Even though bilingual education can provide students with many unique strengths, without proper instruction, their literacy in one language may become stunted. Here is a list of possible methods that adults can use to promote their students’ reading skills:

  • Recognize differences between the languages that may confuse emergent bilingual students. For example, extra support may be necessary for English-speaking students learning the Chinese writing system. 
  • Select strategically between the simultaneous and sequential dual-language programs for students. For instance, the Immersion Progression Model at Tessa International School facilitates a smooth transition from full immersion to balanced bilingual education, ensuring optimal language development.
  • Assign reading tasks in both languages to reinforce literacy skills across all languages in a student’s repertoire.
  • Encourage students to read aloud to each other, providing opportunities for collaboration and confidence-building.
  • Engage families in students’ bilingual language development by providing take-home library books and other resources to strengthen language skills outside the classroom. 

 

Fostering positive attitudes toward bilingualism, biliteracy, and biculturalism is essential for creating optimal learning environments. While the journey may differ from traditional monolingual learning, bilingual education offers unique advantages that empower bilingual children to excel in reading and language skills for a lifetime.

 

Are you ready to explore the only international leading private school in Hoboken? 

Contact Tessa International School to learn more!

A student at TESSA French International School raising his hand in class

From Speech to Script: How Does Oral Language Empower Children’s Writing

As educators at Tessa International School, we witness daily the incredible journey our young students undertake as they navigate learning. A key aspect of this journey, especially in the formative years of education, is the development of oral language and its significant impact on writing skills. But how does oral language support children’s writing?

Understanding the interconnection between spoken language and written expression is crucial for supporting our children’s academic and personal growth. Keep reading to learn more about this fascinating connection and how our curriculum nurtures strong literacy skills that serve our students well into the future.

The Foundation of Literacy

Oral language serves as the foundation of literacy. Before children can read or write, they speak and listen. This initial stage of language acquisition is where they start to understand language structure, expand their vocabulary, and learn to communicate effectively. In our diverse classrooms, children are exposed to a rich tapestry of sounds, words, and sentence structures, which, in turn, enriches their linguistic capabilities.

A student at TESSA French International School writing

Our French international school builds strong literacy skills through oral learning activities.

Bridging Oral and Written Skills: How Does Oral Language Empower Children’s Writing?

The leap from speaking to writing is significant. Writing requires children to process their thoughts, structure them coherently, and present them in a way others can understand. How does oral language empower children’s writing?

The skills developed through oral language activities – storytelling, discussions, and presentations provide children with a robust framework for correctly conceptualizing their ideas and transforming them into compelling writing. As children learn to express themselves verbally, they gain confidence in communicating through the written word.

Empowering Creative Expression

Creativity and self-expression flourish when children feel confident in their language abilities. What are the effects of oral language on written expression? Oral language development helps children explore their thoughts and feelings in boundless, expansive ways. At Tessa, activities like Storybuilders Drama stimulate imagination and expression.

Effective self-expression through oral communication is a highly transferable skill that paves the way for excellent writing skills. When children realize that their spoken or written words have value, they are likely to take risks in their writing, leading to more expressive and meaningful work.

A student at TESSA French International School presenting in front of the class

Our French international school fosters effective expression and communication skills.

Enhancing Academic Performance

The correlation between strong oral language skills and academic achievement is well-documented. Children proficient in oral language tend to have an easier time understanding reading materials, engaging in classroom discussions, and grasping complex concepts.

How does oral language help children? With a solid oral language foundation, students can better organize their thoughts, reason through arguments, and convey their understanding of various subjects through writing. Oral communication skills in several languages also give children a significant academic advantage.

Tessa’s French Immersion School program and its other two bilingual tracks, Mandarin and Spanish, each paired with English instruction, enhance the multicultural and immersive learning environment.

Social and Emotional Development

Oral language is deeply intertwined with social and emotional development. Children learn to empathize with others, understand different perspectives, and navigate social situations through conversations.

These skills are invaluable when it comes to writing, as they enable children to consider their audience, understand the impact of their words, and communicate more effectively.

Our Role as Educators and Parents

At our French international school, we are committed to nurturing our students’ oral language development through various activities and strategies. As our children progress through their educational journey, the ability to articulate thoughts clearly and express themselves confidently in writing will serve them well beyond the classroom walls.

Our collective responsibility as educators and parents is to empower our young learners with the gift of language, unlocking doors to endless possibilities and opportunities. The link between oral language and writing is undeniable and profound.

By fostering an environment that values and encourages the development of oral language skills, we set our children on the path to becoming confident, creative, and capable communicators.

Are you ready to explore one of the leading private schools in Hoboken?

Contact Tessa International School to learn more!

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How does oral language help children?

Answer: With a solid oral language foundation, students can better organize their thoughts, reason through arguments, and convey their understanding of various subjects through writing

Question: What are the effects of oral language on written expression?

Answer: Oral language development helps children explore their thoughts and feelings in a boundless, expansive way. At Tessa, activities like Storybuilders Drama stimulate imagination and expression.

A group of kindergarten students working on assignments together

The Unique Appeal of French Immersion Schools for Bilingual Education

In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability to speak multiple languages is precious, offering students academic, future career, and personal benefits. At Tessa International School, we understand the importance of bilingual education and are dedicated to providing an immersive learning experience that prepares our students for global success.

Here, we’ll explore the benefits of bilingual education, the unique advantages of learning French, and how our French immersion program sets the stage for lifelong achievement.

The Power of Bilingual Education

Bilingual education offers a wealth of advantages that extend beyond the ability to converse in another language. Research has shown that bilingual children exhibit enhanced cognitive flexibility, improved problem-solving skills, and greater cultural empathy. These attributes are beneficial in academic settings and highly sought after in the professional world.

Bilingualism even fosters specific social skills that help children connect with others, such as understanding varying perspectives and communication. At Tessa, our full-immersion (preschool) and dual-language (primary school) teaching approaches ensure that students fully benefit from bilingual education’s critical cognitive and socio-emotional benefits. Why is French a particularly appealing choice? Let’s explore the answer.

A class of young students reading books

The bilingual education at our French school promotes several valuable skills.

Why Choose a French School for Your Child?

French school provides a rich cultural heritage and a gateway to numerous global opportunities. French is considered a ‘world language,’ spoken by over 300 million people across the globe, making it the fifth most spoken language in the world. 

Students proficient in French can navigate our globalized society with confidence and ease. Your child gains access to a world of possibilities by choosing French immersion at Tessa International School.

French Immersion at Tessa International School

How does the instruction at Tessa International School stand out among other French schools? At Tessa, we pride ourselves on offering a French immersion program that goes beyond traditional language learning.

From Nursery through Kindergarten, our students are taught in French 80% of the time, allowing them to build robust and lifelong language foundations at a uniquely advantageous developmental stage. In primary school, students spend half their week with their English teacher and the other half with their French teacher, ensuring a balanced bilingual education.

A young student posing with two of her teachers

The instruction style at Tessa stands out among other French schools.

Accredited by the French Ministry of Education and inspired by the French school system, our unique approach also emphasizes teaching content in French. This means that students learn subjects like science, math, and social studies in French, encouraging students to practice thinking in French and providing a deeper and more meaningful language learning experience. Our highly qualified educators, native French speakers from around the world, collaborate to streamline learning, ensuring that what is taught in one language is applied in the other, building language skills simultaneously.

Preparing for Success

The benefits of bilingualism for the developing brain are undeniable, and research indicates that the brain circuits associated with language learning are more flexible at a young age. That’s why we started French immersion at Tessa at two years old. This early exposure facilitates language acquisition and prepares students for a future where bilingualism is a significant asset.

French immersion at Tessa differs from other French language schools, offering a uniquely immersive approach to bilingual education. Exposing students to a rich linguistic and cultural environment equips them with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in a global society. If you’re considering a bilingual education for your child, Tessa International School’s French immersion program is an excellent choice for laying the foundation for a successful future.

Still curious about bilingualism at Tessa?

Download this webinar titled The Gift of Bilingualism by Kathleen Visconti here.

Do you want to explore one of the top Hoboken private schools?

Contact Tessa International School to learn more!

Creating a Language-Rich Environment at Home: A Guide to Supporting Language Learning

How can you support language learning at home? In the fascinating journey of language development, the more the home language is fortified, the more it strengthens the acquisition of a new language! This dynamic process, known as translanguaging, plays a pivotal role in your child’s linguistic voyage. Language gains strength when words hold meaning across various languages. For instance, there can be two or three words (in any language) that mean “story,” and having a robust understanding of the concept in any language helps reinforce the others. In this blog post, we’ll explore daily practices that not only help your child learn your family’s language but also contribute to their overall success in various aspects of life.

Parents at a school international fair

Parents Sharing Their Cultural Heritage at Tessa International School’s UN Day Celebration

Tips to Support Your Child’s Language Learning Journey

  • Use Your Native Language at Home:

Incorporating your home language into daily life is a powerful way to enrich your child’s understanding of their heritage. Whether your native language aligns with the country you reside in or not, it provides a unique and invaluable perspective that will benefit your child in numerous ways.

  • Tell Stories and Sing Songs:

Your family’s cultural heritage is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. Share stories, rhymes, and songs from your childhood to create a joyful and immersive language-learning experience for your child. Reading books together daily, regardless of the language, stimulates imagination and strengthens language skills. Discussing pictures and narratives fosters language development, creating a strong foundation for literacy.

  • Check Out Materials in Your Language from the Library:

Libraries are invaluable resources for expanding language exposure. Explore books, videos, and music in your native language. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to ask the library staff for assistance. At Tessa International School, our library is full of books in English, Spanish, French and Mandarin, but also in other languages spoken by our families. 

  • Talk About Your Traditions and Culture:

Integrate your language and traditions into your child’s educational environment. Share family stories, songs, and games with teachers and peers. Similarly to all the celebrations we hold at school (Lunar New Year, La Chandeleur, Día de la Velitas and more), celebrate your heritage at home with your family, to foster a sense of pride in their cultural identity.

  • Decorate Your Child’s Bedroom and Your Home: 

Decorate the child’s room with posters, toys, puzzles and artwork that feature the culture of the target and home language. If you can, use everyday items in the target and home language to reinforce vocabulary.

  • Look for Activities in Your Community:

Participate in cultural events and connect with other families who share your home language. Create a supportive network and organize events to celebrate and strengthen linguistic ties within your community.

  • Continue Using Your Home Language as Your Children Grow Older:

Engage in open conversations about the benefits of bilingualism as children grow. Even if they respond in English, maintaining your language at home keeps communication lines open and reinforces cultural identity.

  • Remember Your Key Role:

Parents and family members play a pivotal role in a child’s life. What you value, your child learns to value. Reinforce the importance of your family’s language and culture, fostering a sense of pride and heritage. 

Learning a language is also tremendous for a child’s self esteem. Let your child know you are very proud of their special achievement. Ask them to tell or teach you a new word, and keep a list on the wall. Review and add to it!

 

Promoting Language Learning at Home When it’s not Your Native Language:

For families who primarily speak one language at home, there are still numerous ways to foster second language development. Utilize books, audio books, songs, and other resources to create an environment that encourages language exploration and learning.

End of Unit Celebration with school parent

Tessa International School parent supporting the learning journey of her children

 

Don’t be concerned if your child does not share the language they’re learning at school with you at first. Children are very territorial with languages, and instinctively know who speaks what! They do not “translate”, but assign conceptual meaning to all words regardless of language. 

Benefits of Being Bilingual:

Bilingualism offers a multitude of advantages, including enhanced thinking skills, social-emotional development, improved learning capabilities, and long-term success in an increasingly globalized world. Bilingual individuals exhibit flexibility in problem-solving, better focus, and an aptitude for learning multiple languages.

Learn more about bilingualism and language development on Tessa International School’s Website.

Tessa International School students tell us the languages they speak at home and at school.

By incorporating your family’s native language into your daily routines, you not only preserve your cultural heritage but also equip your child with invaluable tools for success. Talk, read, and sing together every day to lay the foundation for a bright and multilingual future, supporting your child’s language learning journey at home, and ensuring your child thrives academically, socially, and culturally.

Why Early Bilingual Education Boosts Brain Function and Development

Why Early Bilingual Education Boosts Brain Function and Development

There has been an immense amount of discussion and research done on bilingualism in recent years. As scholars and educators dive deeper into the effects of studying multiple languages, more and more evidence is found to support international language learning.

Over the past two decades, researchers have focused specifically on the cognitive benefits gained by children who are introduced to bilingualism at an early age. Specifically, they have measured the ways in which children learn and react to various aspects of their education and found astounding results for multilingual children.

According to NPR.org, these results show benefits so great, they will be utilized and carried throughout your child’s entire life. It is a lifetime of learning in a way that is unparalleled to any other learning approach available.

Bilingual Education Benefits

While the benefits of bilingual education are exponential, there are several benefits that are so great, they should be considered priority in terms of learning. Among these benefits are invaluable skill mastery of things like problem solving, concentration and focus on any given task, and the ability to think critically and choose words with purpose and meaning.

“Researchers found that young adults proficient in two languages performed better on attention tests and had better concentration than those who spoke only one language,” according to LiveScience.com.

Problem Solving Skills

For starters, children who are introduced to a second language, are essentially challenging their brains to sort out multiple information and channel appropriate times to use each piece. By doing this, it is similar to solving riddles or puzzles – it forces the brain to consider information as a whole (call it “big picture thinking”) and sort out conflicting data. In terms of language learning, the child must sort out each language and decipher which language is appropriate to use at different times.

“Bilingual people often perform better on tasks that require conflict management… (because they possess) the ability to ignore competing perceptual information and focus on the relevant aspects,” explains the US National Library of Medicine.

Mastering Focus

Another benefit of bilingual education is the inadvertent mastery of focus and concentration. Since bilingual children must constantly think before speaking in order to ensure they choose the correct language to adequately communicate, they are naturally training their minds to reach mastery levels of focus and control.

“Because both of a bilingual person’s language systems are always active and competing, that person uses these control mechanisms every time she or he speaks or listens. This constant practice strengthens the control mechanisms and changes the associated brain regions,” the National Library of Medicine explains.

Critical Thinking

This level of concentration and focus that children with bilingual education will master, is what leads to an impressive critical thinking development. Essentially, by training their minds to pause before speaking and focus on what they wish to say, bilingual students learn the basis for a lifetime of critical thinking skills.

“Bilingual children as young as age 3 have demonstrated a head start on tests of perspective-taking and theory of mind – both of which are fundamental social and emotional skills,” reports NPR.org.

Overall, children who participate in bilingual education programs are proving to be more adept at communication in general, as well as having a greater cognitive ability and focus than their monolingual counterparts. Research continues to pour in on the benefits of bilingualism in early childhood education, but the results already reported have shown exponential plusses to international language learning.

 

Learn more about a bilingual education at Tessa International School here.

Learning Spanish at Tessa International School

Each child has their own way to learn. Some prefer to learn by seeing or hearing, others by doing, some by reading, and others by asking questions. One thing all students have in common however, is that they learn best when incorporating topics that interest them into their studies. Here at Tessa, we know and understand this. We strive to help our students develop the skills needed to face challenges at home, on the streets or in the classroom, through an additional  language.

Learning Spanish at Tessa International School

At Tessa, students learn in the language – rather than being taught the language as an independent subject. 

Our Spanish Teachers use the language in the most organic way possible to communicate with their students, using not only their voices, but also their body language, signs or objects. Research indicates that the brain circuits associated with language learning are more flexible at a young age. This flexibility allows students to grasp the language rapidly.  

Preschool: A Full Immersion Approach

Tessa’s unique language program begins in Preschool with an 80% immersion in the target language (here Spanish), ensuring students develop second language proficiency by the end of Kindergarten.

In PK2, students start expressing their basic needs using words like “agua”(water), “baño” (bathroom), “hambre” (hungry), and more. The learning journey starts with the most basic concepts of the language: listening and repeating. 

In PK3, they will be introduced to the Spanish Alphabet in uppercase and will practice to write. At the end of PK3 they will be able to express their thoughts into 4 word-sentences like “El carro es amarillo” or “Puedo ir al baño” (The car is yellow or Can I go to the bathroom?).  

In PK4 they will keep practicing the alphabet and are going to focus on the lowercase Spanish alphabet. They will also be introduced to the first phonics, guessing the beginning or ending sounds of the words. From listening to the language, they will be encouraged to use it more frequently in the classroom and in their daily activities. 

Our kindergarteners are ready to reinforce all the knowledge acquired through the years and put it into practice by expressing themselves. They will increase their vocabulary and be able to tell short stories of 3, 4 and 5 events using sequence words like “primero” (First), “luego” (then) and “finalmente” (finally). They will begin to read and write.

Primary: A dual language program

In primary school, the week is equally divided between English and Spanish. During this time, students will continue to develop their Spanish reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.

They will be able to use the target language fluently, thanks to the skills gained throughout the years at Tessa. Students will learn how to identify sounds within words, and combine the sounds into complex words to read a variety of texts. They will start to explore the language, its spelling, rules, grammar and conjugation.

At Tessa, we teach language through content, and we teach content through language. Every situation, in and out of the classroom, is an opportunity to reinforce the learning of the target language. 

 

If you would like to learn more about our Spanish program, we invite you to schedule a private tour and meet our team. 

Learning French at Tessa International School

Preschool through the end of Primary School is a fundamental period of time in children’s schooling and development. They will learn how to socialize with other children, how to behave in society, how to understand their emotions, respect rules, understand them and even create them as soon as they are able to. They “learn how to learn” so that they become efficient when asked to work by themselves. On the academic level, they will develop a variety of skills on different subjects like fine motor skills, math, oral and written language, arts, sciences and physical education. They are building strong foundations for their whole school life and later, their adult life. 

 

Learning French at Tessa International School

 

The French program at Tessa covers all grades from PK2 to the end of Primary. Students learn in the language – rather than being taught the language as an independent subject. To lead them on their learning journey, we are using different methods : pretend play, free play, board games, construction games, logic games, hands-on activities, workshops, centers, problem solving activities… We try as much as possible to adapt to their needs. Our mission is to make sure they are happy to come to school, that they are curious and eager to learn, and that they can develop their own personality. 

 

Preschool: A Full Immersion Approach

 

Tessa’s unique language program begins in preschool with an 80% immersion in the target language (here French), ensuring students develop second language proficiency by the end of Kindergarten.

 

In PK2, the focus is on language immersion, developing oral skills, and learning basic vocabulary for the students to start being able to express their basic needs in the target language and make them explore and adapt to their environment. 

 

In PK3, emphasis is placed on building simple sentences, improving their pronunciation, learning age-appropriate thematic vocabulary, developing their understanding, entering the written language, discovering capital letters and vowel sounds. 

 

In PK4, they start building longer and more complex sentences, they refine their understanding in different contexts, they keep learning the alphabet through writing,  start working on syllables and use letters to write easy words. 

 

In KG, students will get ready for first grade by doing preparatory work in reading by studying the phonics and associating them to letters, playing with syllables, reading and writing easy words, copying sentences from a model. 

 

Primary: A dual language program

 

In primary school, the week is equally divided between English and French. During this time, students will continue to develop their French reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.

 

They will learn how to read phonics, syllables, words, sentences, so that by the end of 5th grade, they are able to read books and write in both French and English. The focus is put on comprehension of written texts, as well as grammar and conjugation. 

 

Learn more about Tessa International School’s French program and discuss with our team by scheduling a tour: https://tessais.org/visit-tessa/

Learning Mandarin at Tessa International School

Tessa provides an immersive language environment, which is the best way to learn an additional language. There are numerous studies that show that students who are exposed to the language they’re learning in an immersive way exhibit higher levels of fluency, particularly when motivation to learn and absorb the language is high. The high motivation, in turn, is fostered by the desire to belong to or approximate the culture of the target language.

 

At Tessa, students are immersed not only in the language, but also in the many cultures represented at school, and linked to their target language. 

 

Learning a language is an invisible cognitive process. Our teachers at Tessa will provide as much input as they can to the child’s brain and the students will unconsciously filter it, and process the information. 

 

Preschool: A Full Immersion Approach

 

Tessa’s unique language program begins in preschool with an 80% immersion in the target language (here Mandarin), ensuring students develop second language proficiency by the end of Kindergarten.

 

In preschool years, students will focus more on speaking and listening. They will learn Mandarin from daily routines, IB PYP units, and a lot of conversation with the teachers.

 

Mastering the art of conversation is a skill – particularly when that conversation is not in our native tongue. Conversation practice enables language learners to assimilate their acquired knowledge, integrating a variety of cognitive skills at once to produce oral communication. In effect, this is learning by doing.

 

Students will learn through sensory activities, practical fine motor skills, physical education and games.

 

We teach Chinese characters every year, but at a young age, learning Chinese characters is like pieces of a puzzle in their brains. Teachers will decorate the classroom with all the target language characters and that way, they can be exposed to a lot of visualization of the characters, what they look like, and have an understanding of what they’re going to learn later in years.

 

Starting from PK3 and PK4, they will start practicing their fine motor skills by tracing, holding pencils, and using scissors to get prepared for the language learning process.

 

In the kindergarten year, they will start writing Chinese strokes, radicals and simple characters.

 

Primary: A dual language program

 

In primary school, the week is equally divided between English and Mandarin.

 

By the time they go to first grade, they have to be able to write characters by stroke orders. They will keep improving their writing skills with the help of practice books.

 

New characters to write and learn are based on the IB units and on their purpose. Students voice which character they would like to learn, and the teacher will take it into consideration.

 

In order to better accompany the students, teachers will differentiate the learning by their language level, math level,and other skills and topics learned in the classroom. 

 

In preschool years, we will focus more on listening and speaking skills, but in primary, we will practice all four skills: speaking, listening, writing and reading.

 

In the program each year, we will have different goals and different learning skills for students to reach. Throughout the years, from nursery all the way to 5th Grade, your child will be a really successful language learner through our Mandarin program.

 

Learn more about Tessa International School’s Mandarin program and discuss with our team by scheduling a tour: https://tessais.org/visit-tessa/

Why Do Children Learn Languages Faster than Adults?

 

It’s a well-known fact that children pick up languages more easily than adults, and research supports this claim. But why is this the case? In this blog, we’ll explore the various factors that explain why children are better and faster at learning languages than adults.

The Environmental Advantages Children Have When Learning Languages

 

 Children have certain environmental advantages when it comes to learning languages that most adults don’t have. Unlike older children and adults, children aren’t formally instructed in language. Instead, they learn by being immersed in multilingual environments and passively “absorbing” the language through contact. For adults, immersion can be effective but costly. Children, on the other hand, have more time and energy to devote to language learning, and aren’t inhibited by anxiety or self-doubt, they learn much faster through immersion.

In addition, children aren’t judged as harshly as adults when it comes to language competence. They’re also less likely to be tested and feel less pressure to perform. This allows the learning process to be more natural and playful.

The Cognitive Advantages Children Have When Learning Languages

Children also have a cognitive advantage when it comes to learning languages. Babies and children form neural connections at a rapid pace, which makes learning new languages easier. As the brain develops, it becomes more specialized and reinforces the neural pathways that are regularly used. This is why those who learn a language at a very young age have the accent of a native speaker. Later in life, the brain’s neural shortcuts force us to fall back on the sounds and phonemes of languages we already know.

It is because of the brain’s elasticity and rapid neural formation that babies and young children are able to learn languages at a faster rate. This is sometimes referred to as the “critical period”. It is theorized that if a child does not learn any language, including non-verbal languages, during this time period that they may never be able to learn any language, because the necessary neural foundation for it has been permanently damaged. We can’t know the answer to this question because testing it would be inhumane.

The Critical Period of Language Learning

It’s difficult to determine which factors contribute the most to children’s superior language learning abilities. However, we do know that the earlier a child is exposed to language, the better. It’s theorized that if a child doesn’t learn any language during their “critical period,” they may never be able to learn a language effectively and easily in the later years of their development, because the necessary neural foundation for it has been permanently damaged.


At Tessa International School in Hoboken, we offer fully immersive bilingual environments that allow children to learn languages naturally. Don’t miss the critical years for language learning – visit us today to learn more!

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Tessa International School

Office: (201) 755-5585 | Location: 720 Monroe St. Hoboken, NJ 07030