At 8:10 a.m. everyday, elementary students skip into Room 505 to join Mandarin Bilingual Teacher Susie Chen. Having studied in an immersion setting herself, Susie is perfectly placed to support her students in building their language skills at CIS.
- This program is available to learners as young as age 5 (Senior Kindergarten).
- Our students enjoy 40% exposure to the target language over the course of a week.
- The program was designed by dedicated and experienced language educators.
- Mandarin Bilingual Program students study Language Arts, Math, Health, Art, and PE in Mandarin.
Susie moved from China to Alberta, Canada when she was 12 years old. She learned to speak English quickly and adjusted to the inquiry-based approach of Alberta schools. “My teachers taught me critical thinking and research skills. They asked ‘What do you think of this?’ and encouraged me to be creative,” she explained.
Susie knew she wanted to work with children and to support their learning. So, having earned her degree in environmental science from the University of Alberta, she qualified as a teacher and turned her sights abroad. She assumed the role of Mandarin bilingual teacher at CIS in August 2020.
Susie’s approach in the classroom is informed by her own experience as a student in Canada. She encourages her students to ask questions and she scaffolds their learning. She uses as much English as is necessary to ensure understanding. Foremost, Susie creates an accepting, inclusive learning environment where all students feel welcome. “I want my students to feel safe and happy in class. I want them to be motivated to use Mandarin, to use their critical thinking skills, and to be comfortable making mistakes,” she said.
Susie hopes that her students will ultimately use their Mandarin language skills to explore and understand the world around them. “I hope my students will go on an adventure, such as travel in China or continue studying Mandarin. I would like them to be able to use their language skills to further their careers, but I also hope they remember learning Mandarin at CIS and feel that it was a good experience–a good choice for them. I hope they will think critically about culture as well as language. People work and think in different ways across cultures. It’s important to respect these different ways of thinking.”