Embracing the ‘Learning Through Language’ Approach: Enhancing Education at Shu Ren International School

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Article contributed by Yi Que
Head of School, Berkeley

The Role of Language Learning 
In a language immersion IB school, the roles of language learning are multifaceted, encompassing not only the acquisition of language skills but also the integration of language across various disciplines. Here are the three roles of language learning in such a setting:
1) Learning language: This role focuses on mastering the form of the language, including its structure, grammar, vocabulary, and writing systems.
2) Learning about language: This role involves understanding the contextual use of language as a system, including analyzing language features, literary devices, and historical perspectives.
3) Learning through Language: In this role, language serves as a medium for making meaning, expressing ideas, and acquiring knowledge across various subjects.

Why The Shu Ren Inquiry-Based Chinese Immersion Model?
At Shu Ren, we have embraced a dynamic approach to education that harnesses the power of language as a tool for inquiry-based learning within the IB program. Central to our educational philosophy is the “learning through the language” approach, which goes beyond traditional language instruction by integrating language acquisition seamlessly into the exploration and understanding of academic content.

This model stands out as the pinnacle of language education within an IB school for several reasons. Firstly, it recognizes that language is not simply a subject to be learned in isolation but rather a medium through which students engage with and construct knowledge across various disciplines. By immersing students in an environment where Chinese is utilized as a language tool for inquiry, we empower them to explore complex concepts, express their ideas, and collaborate with others effectively.

Moreover, the “learning through the language” approach aligns perfectly with the IB learner profile attributes of being “knowledgeable” and “balanced.” Through inquiry-based learning in Chinese immersion settings, students not only acquire subject-specific knowledge but also develop a deep understanding of language and culture, fostering global-mindedness and cross-cultural competence. This holistic approach ensures that students not only excel academically but also grow into well-rounded individuals equipped to navigate diverse linguistic and cultural contexts.

Furthermore, the inquiry-based Chinese immersion model promotes active engagement, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, all of which are essential for success in the 21st century. By encouraging students to ask questions, seek answers, and make connections within and beyond the curriculum, we instill in them a lifelong love for learning and a sense of agency over their own education.

In conclusion, the “learning through the language” and inquiry-based Chinese immersion model at Shu Ren represents the epitome of language education within the IB framework. By emphasizing this model, we not only foster linguistic proficiency but also cultivate knowledgeable, balanced, and globally-minded individuals who are equipped to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world.
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