2nd or 3rd grade? (Returning to Taiwan)

We’ve been out of Taiwan for a year. A year back we’d had our kids (who were born and grew up in Taiwan) in 1st grade and they did “well” in local school (not getting 100%s, which is the local ideal, but really learning the material and keeping up with classmates / never at the absolute bottom of the class). This was mostly because of good teachers and the after school program. Neither parent is a native speaker.

We had the chance to come back to the States for a year and it has been great. They’ve done 2nd grade here. The kids are “caught up” in English reading and writing (they had almost none when we came) and it was good for the older sibling, who did several years in bilingual school and is moving to an international school. He’s caught up on math, where he’d really struggled before.

We’re now returning to Taiwan and trying to decide between:
-repeat 2nd grade, but in Chinese (so no missed material), realizing our kids will be gigantic and won’t know classmates
-3rd grade in Chinese, realizing they may be behind. Could perhaps have them do tutoring or buxiban some this summer?
-try to do one of the CSL programs at a public school, probably 3rd grade (but this would be farther from our home)

Here are some more thoughts:
-we want our kids to have good spoken Chinese and this only seems to happen with immersion, but immersion in Taiwanese schools can be pretty intense
-we likely will only have them in local school for another year or two
-they’ve done some Chinese while we were in the States and we will have the summer to catch up at least on spoken
-a lot in Taiwan depends on the teachers, which is kind of luck of the draw

Any thoughts? Anyone had kids move back and forth between local and foreign schools?

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As a teacher with more than two decades of experience, I recommend that you keep them going and avoid repetition as children catch up speedily and learn different skills knowledge etc etc along the way.

In this century it’s diversity and basic schooling has evolved into personalised education. Some would argue that it’s better to strike a balance but as I’m pro individuality due to genetics it’s most important to develop the person first in order to adapt and contribute to our ever changing planet.

For language acquisition children when in immersion will absorb at light speed so no worries on this.

Could you teach me what this means? :laughing:


I did a similar thing. My daughter was in Taiwan for first grade, US for second, and back to Taiwan for third. I would recommend NOT repeating a grade. Find a buxiban/private teacher this summer, find a teacher who understands and sympathizes with the situation, and work from there.

The main obstacles will be the “core classes” of English, math, and Chinese. Math at that level is pretty easy, so it shouldn’t be a problem. English will be WAY too easy for your kid, so giving them strategies to cope with the extreme boredom they will face is key. Chinese will be a challenge, but with good preparation during the summer they should be able to pass muster.

I’m sitting here with the 3rd grade Chinese textbooks open in front of me (I work in a public school). Each unit introduces 16 characters per lesson, with 14 lessons in all (not counting additional material). Repeat for second semester. Every story/poem has an attached grammar exercise, but the grammar at that level isn’t that hard. Add to this the weekly workbook assignments and it shouldn’t be too overwhelming.

Speaking from my personal experience, my older daughter struggled a bit at the outset, but by the end of the year she was fine. Just make sure you articulate your situation clearly to the homeroom teacher beforehand.


Thank you all! This was really helpful–especially TimesThree’s comment. Hoping for understanding teachers :slight_smile:

Each student is genetically unique so he or she can choose what to learn or study. Education can be tailor made for each individual starting from life and social skills to diverse subjects to critical thinking skills. Schooling no longer needs to serve the purposes of society and capitalism.

Self-actualisation is the ultimate aim/goal or epitome of education.

Some schools will allow your kids to sit out the English class, since they are way ahead, and attend a remedial Chinese class to catch up instead. Ask about it.

Thanks SuiGeneris, that’s helpful. We know a Taiwanese American girl who had gone to read in the library then, and that might be an option too. One thing that surprised us was that public schools often have parents who volunteer to help struggling children, whereas the bilingual schools don’t do that at all.

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I know people who work in some of the bilingual schools (not TAS or TES–lower-tier), and from what I hear, they’re best avoided.

Good to know about volunteering in public schools.

When I move to KHH to improve my Mandarin, I would like to volunteer my time with teaching experience.

God if only Taiwan would take this onboard. Conveyor belt education that produces a nation of drones.

If only humans can live in reality of 21st century…too many sheep that can’t think outside the box!