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/