Multilingual education is booming in China, and the sector’s growth prospect for international languages is absolutely stunning. Thanks to Jacqueline Plessis and Wanling Liang, the educational team of the French Embassy in Beijing, I had several interesting exchanges with two Chinese experts on language education whom agreed to be interviewed for my podcast Révolution bilingue: – Mr. Yu Zhonggen, Professor of English at Tsinghua University whose domain of research is English as a second language; – Mrs. Zhu Yanhua, Professor in Human Sciences at Beijing Language and Culture University, whose domain of research is the Sino-Tibetan family, and the situation of cross-border languages, particularly the comparison between Chinese and Tibetan.
As a former school director and education researcher I often think about what we need to teach our children. To me, the 4 C’s that are Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity are essential skills to equip our children with for today’s and even tomorrow’s world too. But we need to go even further than that by teaching our children a fifth C: Compassion.
This point culminated during my recent visit to China to an art education project in a school for migrant workers’ children in one of Beijing’s outer rings, Beijing Shijingshan Cement Factory Elementary School, through a program called “Enlightenment of Love.” The project received support from Sun Future Art Education Foundation which bases itself on the belief that “Art Education Makes Good People,” and aims to help children grow both heart and mind. I was impressed by the teachers’ focus on exploration and innovation through aesthetics and photography, particularly as a way to build identity and encourage love and compassion among their students who predominantly came from disadvantaged families.
During my trip to China I was offered the opportunity to visit Beijing’s Children Discovery Museum, a 0-to-7-year-old early childhood education project jointly developed by Lao Niu Brother & Sister Foundation together with China National Children’s Center, China Philanthropy Research Institute, and Beijing Normal University. By creating this museum in Beijing, and a similar one in Inner Mongolia, Lao Niu Foundation sought to introduce innovative and interactive exploration to Chinese children, through advanced design concepts and practice models commonly found in children’s museums in the United States and Europe, while combining Chinese traditional culture in the model. Since opening on June 1, 2005, Lao Niu Children’s Discover Museum is the first large-scale children’s museum in Beijing.
I am thrilled to keynote during DC’s upcoming Multilingual Education Fair on January 26. Co-sponsored by the key education institutions of the District, the fair features 100 exhibitors covering 12 languages to allow you to explore and deepen your linguistic and cultural skills, and learn about careers where language skills are crucial. The Fair will be located on the Gallaudet University campus at the I. King Jordan Student Academic Center (800 Florida Ave NE, Washington DC 20002).
I was delighted to take part in a school tour of PS1 in Chinatown with NYC Chancellor Richard Carranza who announced the opening of 48 new bilingual programs in Italian, Spanish, French, Chinese, Russian, Urdu, Bengali, Polish, Arabic, Korean and, for the first time, Albanian. Also a great program in German at PS18, and a new initiative with Greek. Thank you, NYC.
I was interviewed earlier this Month by Elizabeth Rose Daly for her blog, Liz daly’s Culture Digest. I spoke about my new book The Bilingual Revolution, the development of dual-language programs in New York City public schools, and the various models applied by the different linguistic communities I worked with (Polish, German, Japanese, etc.). Continue reading →