Education advice for 5year old bilingual child in MiaoLi/Toufen/Hsinchu area

Hi all,

Looking for advice as stated in the title of this thread.


Mother (me):

  • SAHM and thus primary carer.

  • I can speak/understand mandarin but can’t read/write.

  • I have been speaking exclusively to kiddo in English since birth.


  • Taiwanese.

  • Speaks exclusively to kiddo in Chinese.


  • Speaks both English and mandarin though his English is much stronger. He is still able to interact in mandarin with his cousins and his grandparents etc.

  • He can recognise 50ish Chinese words.

  • Can read English (has been reading since two and a bit. He was an early talker, late walker). Is learning to spell longer words (he’s mastered three letter words). Has worked out long addition/subtraction.

  • Hates rote learning but can do it but really really really hates it. Loves to ask questions ie. why is the moon orange? Why doesn’t this float? Etc. Very curious about everything. Has not attended any form of schooling so far ie. daycare, preschool etc.

Family Situation:

Another baby due soon. Financially can afford international schools but money will be tight. We do not believe in corporal punishment. Kiddo and little one due soon has not been nor will be exposed to such from us.

What we are looking for:

Husband wants kiddo to be able to read and write in mandarin. Something I can’t help with I admit.

I don’t want kiddo’s curiosity to be stifled by the rote learning system in Taiwan. I want him to remain curious, not be afraid to ask questions etc. (We have always emphasised that adults can get things wrong too, and am quite happy to admit when we make mistakes etc.). We don’t use the “because I said so” phrase.

Ultimately would like kiddo to attend high school or university overseas.

Current situation/dilemma:

I was pushing for Hsinchu Holland International School. But apparently their Chinese class isn’t enough for kids to be fluent? Also school fees are phenomenal. We can afford it…but budget will be tight.

Husband was thinking of Stanford American language school. But I’ve been reading so many horror stories regarding how they treat their teachers etc. I don’t think a place that treats their staff abominably is one where I’d entrust my child to. This also goes for any other private bilingual school too.

Open to advice and or other options. Thanks!!

I can’t help with the school situation, but maybe I can make a few suggestions about having the kid learn mandarin at home if he goes to an international school.

If you want to stay away from rote learning, I’m a firm believer in the environment playing a big role in learning the language. That’s how my mandarin was taken to the next level.

If he spends 8-9 hours at an intl school in an English environment, try and make home a mandarin only policy. When he watches TV or plays games, have him watch/play in mandarin. He might pick up some things here and there. It also helps to give him some material to look over after he’s done with his intl school homework. If he’s as curious as you say he is, he might pick up something!

If he picks up an interest, give him a chance to accelerate it. Sign him up for extra curricular activities, but with locals. He may hate it at first because some of the kids may be speaking in slang phrases he doesn’t understand, but I’m sure he’ll pick it up soon.

I know you might be on a tight budget if he goes to one of the major intl schools, so you could consider looking into sports center programs? Usually those are government funded, so they aren’t too expensive.

Hope the above was helpful.

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Thankyou for the great advice but wouldn’t this only improve his spoken Chinese? He does watch some programmes in Chinese and talks to everyone else in mandarin (except me) so I’m not too worried about his speech. It’s the reading and writing that’s of concern…and which I can’t help with at all. I guess my husband could do it, but he gets home late enough as it is.

Ideally I’d like to send him to a school where the structure is more “western” orientated (learn through play, lots of experiments, questions encouraged etc) but where he can also learn to read/write Chinese.

Anyone know of a school like that? :slight_smile:

Deet have you looked at IBSH? Its another school set up specifically for Science Park workers.

Oh yes, we’ve been and applied to IBHS but it’s a lottery system and we didn’t get in.

Is the system in IBHS similar to a more western education by the way? I was under the impression it wasn’t (and consequently wasn’t too upset about not getting in).

Thanks though!

Based on what you say here I would not be so quick to write off all of the private / bilingual schools. I think it is safe to assume that they will generally be good for Chinese literacy, and in addition some of them will also be good for the student centered learning. I work at one in Taipei. Chinese is taught in Chinese, includes full literacy, and everything else is in English and based on western style and curriculum. There is student centered learning, as well as aspects of the traditional teacher centered exam orientated style too. It is pretty well balanced. Also I would not automatically assume that they all treat staff badly. Hope that helps!

Apologies Liam for the inflammatory post earlier.

I was offended that you seemed to be implying that I was against all private bilingual schools, however as one of the admins pointed out I did write,

I can now see why you had made that assumption and am dearly sorry for writing such an offensive reply.

Now I would like to clarify here that I meant in my first post, I would not like to send my child to any school which treats there staff horribly.

I do not mean to discount every private bilingual school as the case.

If anyone knows of any schools which treat their staff fairly, has a western orientated style of learning but also provides adequate exposure to Chinese, please let me know!

Other suggestions are welcome too.

Thanks to everyone again (yes including you Liam! :slight_smile: )