Where can my child learn in Chinese (Mandarin)?

In this article, we’ve put together a list of Mandarin Chinese programs available for K-12 learners at Calgary public schools (and remember to check out this page at the Calgary Board of Education site for more details).

Chinese/Mandarin Bilingual (K-9)

The Chinese/Mandarin Bilingual program allows students to develop basic speaking, reading, writing listening, and communicating skills in Mandarin Chinese at an early age. Students with previous Mandarin experience may start this program at levels other than Kindergarten or Grade 1. This program is offered at 4 schools in Calgary.

The language programming is as follows:

  • Kindergarten to Grade 6: Both English Language Arts and Chinese Language Arts (including simplified Chinese script and Han Yu Pin Yin pronunciation) are taught; all other subjects are taught 50% in English and 50% in Mandarin.
  • Grades 7-9: Chinese Language Arts and Mathematics are taught in Mandarin; all other subjects are taught in English.

Why you should learn a second language

Speaking a second language can be an invaluable skill that will serve you well throughout your lifetime. If you speak 2 or more languages, you’ll likely experience one or more of following benefits:

  • You become smarter: According to this article, speaking a second language improves your negotiation, reasoning, and communications skills, as you learn how to do just this in multiple languages.
  • You become better at multitasking: Constantly translating a second or third language in your head means you also become better at processing multiple bits of other kinds of information.
  • You stop Alzheimer’s and dementia in their tracks: For adults that only speak one language, the average age for the first signs of dementia is 71.4 years. For adults who speak two or more languages, the average age is 75.5.
  • Your first language improves: Because you pay so much attention to grammar and vocabulary in your second language, you eventually bring that attention to your first language as well, and it makes you a better communicator.
  • You can often apply for more (and better) jobs: Having a second language can be a valuable asset in your career, as being able to converse in multiple languages is invaluable for those who work in global companies or those who need to communicate with a diverse audience. Second languages can be especially helpful in business and healthcare.
  • Families preserve their heritage language: Second and third generation Canadian citizens are much less likely than their parents and grandparents to speak their native tongue fluently. Enrolling children in a secondary language school program can help keep their native language alive, which also has the benefit of allowing them to communicate with grandparents and other relatives.

Fortunately, parents can choose from a number of language immersion programs offered at Calgary schools if they are interested in fostering their child’s second language. Most, if not all, classes are taught in the second language (German, Chinese, Spanish, French, or Arabic), but the educational standard is the same as the regular English program.