Education for Global Citizenship
I. What is the Education for Global Citizenship (EGC) program?
The Education for Global Citizenship immersion program is a form of dual language education that draws from the best of the Eastern and Western learning traditions to provide children with a rich and supportive learning environment by teaching the core academic content in two languages: English and Chinese. The goal of this program is for all students to become bilingual, bi-cultural, and bi-literate while achieving at a high academic level.
II. WHY EGC?
Globalization is impacting our employment, education, and cultural systems and it requires a new type of education that prepares young children for the new global society and economy. EGC is such a program designed to provide them with the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to move fluidly between two dramatically different languages and cultures. With China's increasing growth as a major force in international trade and commerce, fluency in Mandarin Chinese will be a major asset for people entering the labor market over the next decade. Becoming bilingual through EGC immersion programs opens the door to communication with more people in more places, and increases opportunities in the job market.
III. WHY IS EGC AN EFFECTIVE MODEL?
Over the past thirty years, due in large part to the success of immersion programs, there has been a shift away from teaching language in isolation and toward integrating language and content. EGC is an effective model that follows this shift based on the following principles:
- Language is acquired most effectively when it is learned in a meaningful social context. In the past, too many elementary foreign language programs were not successful because children were not given sufficient opportunities to hear the language and to use it for communication. In EGC programs, the school curriculum will provide a natural basis for children's foreign language learning, and the functional characteristics of language change from one context to another will provide a wide variety of contexts in which children use the target language.
- Language acquisition, cognition and social awareness go hand in hand in young children. As EGC programs integrate language (both L1 and L2) and content, language learning becomes an integral part of children's social and cognitive development, offering them opportunities to communicate about what they know and what they want to know, as well as about their feelings and attitudes.
- Results from existing immersion programs in both Canada and the U.S. have consistently shown that, over time, immersion students' scores are comparable to their non-immersion peers on tests of reading and math skills. Research has also shown that most children in immersion programs do learn the second language and at the same time achieve skills in other subject content areas appropriate to their grade level.
IV. GENERAL GOALS:
Students who complete EGC immersion program should be able to:
- Understand, speak, read and write in Chinese about topics appropriate to their age level. Listening and speaking competencies will most closely approximate native-like levels, reading and writing competencies will be less so.
- On the average perform in subject content areas as well as their monolingual peers on standardized achievement tests administered in English.
- Acquire a greater knowledge, understanding and appreciation of other cultures.
- Achieve such proficiency in the Chinese language and in English that they are able to continue their studies in both languages.
V. BRIEF HISTORY OF EGC:
In February 2004, the US-China Center convened for a four day conference at the Skywalker Ranch in northern California. Representatives from a wide range of children's educational institutions attended. By the end of the meeting, the team had developed a set of educational guidelines and goals. These goals were then refined and fleshed out over the course of the next several months. The EGC Schools curriculum was designed by a team of educational experts from the US and China, working at the US-China Center for Research in Educational Excellence located at Michigan State University. In the summer of 2005, the first EGC School was launched with the start of the 3E International Kindergarten (www.3eik.com) in Beijing, China. In 2006, the second EGC School was opened in Lansing with the support of federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Defense. Beginning in fall 2007, public schools in Lamphere, Berkley, Van Buren and Traverse City launched similar programs. In 2008 and 2009, two more school districts in Forest Hills and Utica adopted EGC programs.
The US-China Center is currently establishing partnerships with existing school districts in Michigan. The Center plans to expand the EGC Schools model by opening additional EGC schools around the country and in China in the coming years.
VI. INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACHES:
In the EGC Schools model, we have combined the best of both Eastern and Western pedagogy in a learning environment that immerses students in both languages and cultures. This blending allows children to move between different cultures, languages, and educational philosophies as part of their school day. In the Western classroom, students will be immersed in the English language and a child-centered learning environment. In the Eastern classroom, students will be immersed in the Mandarin Chinese language and aknowledge-centered, teacher-directed learning environment.
Students develop proficiency in Chinese by hearing and using it to learn all of their school subjects rather than by studying the language itself. Chinese is learned in everyday classroom conversational situations and through subject content instruction. This makes language learning more meaningful to them and helps them develop listening comprehension, spontaneous verbal expression, and reading and writing skills.
VII. EGC CURRICULUM:
The program parallels the curriculum of the local curriculum. This means that EGC programs follow the same curriculum in math, science, social studies, etc, with the same outcome expectations of the students in the regular "non-immersion" program.
At all grade levels, the Chinese Immersion teacher instructs math, science, Chinese language arts, thematic activities, cultural activities and social skills. The partner teacher instructs English language arts (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), social studies, thematic activities and social skills, too, but in different activities than the Chinese teacher. This can vary between grade levels.
VIII. PARENT INVOLVEMENT:
Research has shown that parent involvement has been an important aspect of successful immersion programs. Parents should maintain an active role in their children's education by providing experiences that help develop their children's English language skills and enhance their cognitive and affective development. There are many opportunities for parents to become involved at EGC immersion program, from participation in the parent-teacher conferences to giving volunteer time to classroom activities. Here are some other ways to stay involved:
- At all times, be supportive of your child, the program and the teacher. Be actively involved in your child's school.
- Get to know your child's teacher either by a phone call or a personal visit. Take time to get involved in some of the class activities.
- Take advantage of any opportunities to expose your child to the immersion language and culture(s) outside of the school setting such as local restaurants and local Chinese communities, etc.).
- Do not expect your child to start speaking Chinese after the first few days. Children will start to use Chinese on their own at their own individual pace. Encourage, but do not force, your child to speak Chinese at home only when he/she is ready to do so.
- Incorporate some easy and functional Chinese language into your home setting.
- Do not attempt to correct your child if you are uncertain of the correct expression or pronunciation.
- Listen to the songs and nursery rhymes that your child has learned at school, in English or Chinese.Have them teach you some.
- Encourage your children by telling them how proud you are that they are learning Chinese and let your child know that you are pleased with his/her progress.