My daughter is about to start school soon and I was hoping for some advice from more experienced people here on how to pick between the different options available in Taiwan.
Some background information first. I am American and my wife is Taiwanese. My Chinese is better than her English so we speak Chinese at home. My daughter was born in Taiwan and will be starting preschool soon. We hope to raise her in as bilingual and bi-cultural a way as possible and for her to go back to the US for college.
To begin with, I respect the local culture here and understand how important it is to my wife that our daughter doesn’t grow up a stranger in her own country, but at the same time I’m worried that doing a true 50/50 split may end up being neither here nor there. We’re each in favor of having a main focus coupled with a strong supplementary one. The problem is that we can’t decide which language/culture should be the main so now we’re back to the 50/50 compromise.
Here’s the pros and cons of the different schooling options as I see them. We aren’t considering public schools because we don’t believe in their teaching methods and exam culture. We also don’t plan for our daughter to attend college here so preparing for the college entrance exam isn’t a concern for us.
American and International Schools
My preferred option. Pretty straightforward. American-style education from K-12 and then off to college in the US. No problems on my part. They have Chinese classes every day and most of the students are Taiwanese anyway so there’ll be adequate exposure to the local language and culture. My wife, however, feels that their Chinese language ability is only at a conversational level and that they don’t learn enough about Chinese history and culture to create a national identity. She’s also worried that attending an American or international school will confine our daughter to an expat bubble in her own country. Going with this option means my wife will have to do a lot of work supplementing the Chinese side of things at home and even then our daughter might not be receptive to it since everything at school is American.
My wife’s preferred option. Our daughter will study a Taiwanese curriculum but also have a strong focus on English. While this will no doubt allow her to understand more about Taiwan and fit in better, I’m afraid that all that ends up happening is my daughter will have better English than the average Taiwanese person but be neither good enough to survive in Taiwan nor good enough to survive abroad. With this option, I would have to work hard to supplement my daughter’s English abilities at home and I’m concerned that results will be limited because it’s me fighting an entire system. Not to be selfish about who carries the burden of giving our daughter extra help at home, but I honestly feel that it’s much easier for my wife to bring up my daughter’s Chinese since she has the support of the general environment behind her whereas I would be fighting a one-man war against the establishment. The fact that we speak Chinese at home further complicates the matter.
Mixing and Matching
Perhaps a compromise that we can both settle on is attending bilingual school for elementary school and then transferring to an American or international school for middle school and beyond. This way my daughter will be able to establish a solid Chinese foundation early on and still be able to catch up with English in her later years to make a successful transition to college abroad. It seems some Taiwanese as well as expat families have taken this route but I have no information as to how well the results are.
Anyways, these are the options we’ve thought of at the moment as well as our concerns with each. Any thoughts, insights, or advice would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps there are other options that we didn’t think of or maybe our fears are unfounded. Simply hearing stories from people who share the same predicament would be a great help. Thanks in advance!