Chinese English

Bilingual Schools

Curriculum adapted from a single country but children and parents are mainly from the host national country.

In recent years the biggest development in the sector has been the evolution of the bilingual market, with an increased focus on English / Mandarin bilingual schools leading to further teaching opportunities.

Bilingual schools in China differ from international schools in two fundamental ways.  The first is that the majority, if not all, of the students are Chinese.  Obviously, this means that the preponderance of the student body has mandarin as their first language.  The second is that the structure of the curriculum is an amalgam of the Chinese state curriculum and selected foreign curriculum; for example, combining the Shanghai National Curriculum (SNC) with the IB curriculum.  Schools often offer more than one foreign curriculum.  This system allows teachers greater flexibility to plan lessons according to the requirements of their students, as aspects of different curriculum can be combined for the optimum learning environment.  

This flexibility can be seen in other ways, most prominently the teaching language; generally split 50/50 between English and Mandarin, but sometimes by subject.  The same flexibility is seen in the assignment of lessons.  At many bilingual schools’ teachers are paired; one international teacher and one native teacher.  These two teachers sometimes run classes as a team, alternating the lead teacher, and lead language, every class.  However, the split may be different; it could be that some subjects are the sole responsibility of one of these teachers and always taught in one language, the other teacher and language used for the remainder.

One of the main goals for the parents of the children attending these schools is to give their child access to aspects of a Western education, in anticipation for possible future study abroad, whilst keeping them in touch with their Chinese heritage and customs.  

Since there are a large number of bilingual schools across China, the entry criteria vary wildly. Some schools will only look for certified teachers with a minimum of two years teaching experience, whilst others will happily work with TEFL qualified English and other subject teachers with less experience. Regardless of your starting point, bilingual private schools present some of the best opportunities for career development and work-life balance.