Local to International educational system?

My boy is 3 years old and currently attends an excellent bi-lingual preschool in Taipei. However, in a couple of years, my wife (Taiwanese) and I (BBC) will have to decide whether to send him to a local or international school, and this is where the problem lies. Since we both came through different systems, we have been unable to come to a solid conclusion.

Personally, I want my son to attend an int’l school as I know he will receive a well rounded education, be able to be analytical, to think for himself, ask questions and give constructive feedback, rather than one based on memorization. School hours for the local schools are also unhealthy, secondary school onwards: 7.45am start till 8-9pm (that’s including bu si ban), which most kids are encouraged to attend by their teachers and by not doing so, they will say that your kid will fall behind. (I have heard from many people that many teachers are connected with these operations or receiveing some form of commissions!). However, I do admit that local schools are superior in certain subjects such a mathmatics and science.

My wife’s argument is that our boy, being chinese and based in taiwan for the long term, should have a soild chinese base in reading and writing as well a sense of his cultural background. And China, ever increasing influence in the world, being able to communicate in chinese will be essential. She also says that if our boy were to attends an int’l school, she would not have the confidence to help with his homework. Like a lot of local taiwanese, she also thinks a lot of drugs, alcohol and sex occur at int’l schools…crazy, i know…
To some degree, I do agree with my wife’s view, but the thought of my boy going through those mad hours at school does not sit well. Where will he find the time to play and participate in sport? By the time he reaches adulthood, I’m sure he will be wondering where his childhood had gone to…

With the above in mind, I have been thinking that we could send our boy first to a local school and when he reaches secondary school, by which time he should have a solid chinese base, we could transfer him to an int’l school. I have ask a few people, who sends their kids to int’l school, for their view on this and many have said that, because our boy’s mind has been set to “receive” information only, he would struggle to adapt to a more interactive role. So, that my question to you all. Do you agree with these parents? Any comments would be highly appreciated.

My boy went to Tiawanese kindy, grade school and 1st and 2nd years of middle school and just this year he has transferred to one of the international schools in Taipei. We are delighted with how it is working out.

We never pressured our boy to be at the top of his class in the Taiwanese system, and we never sent him to any buxiban. You can teach him at home through regular interaction and discussion to be inquisitive and to analyse.

We also sent our boy home to my folks in the US each summer.

I think you should send your boy to local school first primarily to get a solid foundation in Chinese. Keep up the English as best you can outside of school, and when he transfers in middle or high school he should be fine with the transition.

Check [url=http://tw.forumosa.com/t/your-kids-what-will-their-language-of-eloquence-be/31321/1 thread[/url] for a very good discussion on language acquisition and bilingual ability, also.

My wife and I are planning to do the same thing (almost). Our daughter, who is almost 2 now, will attend local schools until the age of about 11-12. Basically finishing elementary school (1-6) in Taiwan, at which time we will most likely move back to Canada. I am a little worried about her brain becoming hardwired for memorization only, but as tigerman says, I plan to send some time every evening with her studying in English. Hopefully by giving her a chance to be creative she will be able to learn both ways.

Not too much experience with this, but FWIW… We keep in touch with the family of a kid I tutored from age ~4-9 in Taiwan. I’m pretty sure he went to Fuxing Elementary School. He was never a particularly diligent student, but was bright and creative. They moved to Canada when he hit middle school. He seemed to adapt to the new system fairly well, becomeing more-or-less a straight-A student after the first couple years. He showed me his college application essays–they were well-written and showed good critical thinking skills. With this as my only example, I’d have to say that “hard-wiring” needn’t be much of an issue, at least in the long run.

The important thing to remember is that your child has bicultural roots, so a little of both will be good for him. As a teacher I can tell you that there is only so much we can do for your kid, and most of the important stuff is done in your home. Sage advise has already been given. Since you are in Taiwan, save the money and send your child to a local school to learn to read and write Chinese (afterall learning to read and write English is easy in comparison.) Then when he gets older, you can send him off to an international school or abroad. As long as you work with him at home a little you won’t have to worry about hthe buxiban hours and the other inhumane education practices Taiwnaese parents put upon their children. AS a father myself, I know I plan something simlar when my daughter reaches school age. I plan English pre-school/kindy, Taiwanese public school, and then US middle school, high school, and college. We’ll see how it works out.

Just want to thank you all for your feedback. From what you all have said and suggested, I think it will be good to send my boy first to local school and then from middle school, we’ll transfer him to an int’l school. Just have to convince my wife now!!

Tigerman:

With our family, I’m basically the only one that communicate in english to my son, while the rest of the time it all chinese. So, as you can imagine, his chinese is much better than his english, and to the point that he will often tell me to speak in chinese as he does not understand what I’m saying. I’m sure this will be the case in the near future, as my son has little exposure to english apart from when I speak to him and during his english lessons at preschool, and eventually, elementary school. With this in mind, I’m a little worried that when time comes to transfer him to the int’l school, his english will be far behind the rest of the kids, and as you will know, kids can be very hash when they see someone speaking “broken” english or english not as fluent as themselves. This can certainly have an ill effect to my boy and may even dampen his confidence. I believe you are in a similar situation to myself, so did you face the situation I’d mentioned above? If so, how did you over come it or what suggestions do you have.

Another question: I’ve read that there are very limited places at these int’l schools and at times, long waiting lists. Is this true? Did you have any problems getting a place for your boy?

Geordie can’t you invite your foreign friends over? Do any of them have kids he could play with? How often does your son visit the UK? Do relatives ever come out? Do you read together every day? Watch films in English?

I have heard of fathers in your situation who work very long hours, and sometimes go a whole day without seeing their child. I guess you’re not in this category.

[quote=“Geordie Boy”]Tigerman:

With our family, I’m basically the only one that communicate in English to my son, while the rest of the time it all chinese. So, as you can imagine, his chinese is much better than his English, and to the point that he will often tell me to speak in chinese as he does not understand what I’m saying. I’m sure this will be the case in the near future, as my son has little exposure to English apart from when I speak to him and during his English lessons at preschool, and eventually, elementary school. With this in mind, I’m a little worried that when time comes to transfer him to the int’l school, his English will be far behind the rest of the kids, and as you will know, kids can be very hash when they see someone speaking “broken” English or English not as fluent as themselves. This can certainly have an ill effect to my boy and may even dampen his confidence. I believe you are in a similar situation to myself, so did you face the situation I’d mentioned above? If so, how did you over come it or what suggestions do you have.[/quote]

I am the only one at home who speaks with my boy in English. However, I often took him out with me to places where doing so was appropriate (such as hanging out at the Post Home with Comrade Stalin :sunglasses: ) and he has spent lots of time interacting with many different Forumosans here in Taiwan. That has exposed him to quite a few different accents (to say nothing of various characters!). More importantly, I sent my boy home every summer to live with my parents in the US. That was a very big help in improving his English.

Nonetheless, his Chinese is currently better than his English. But, that is what I expected and wanted, at this stage. He has just entered a new school (an intenational school here in Taipei) and is having very little difficulty with the English. Well, sure, its quite a change going from classes where the language of instruction was Chinese to classes using English for teaching. But, aside from a very few native English speakers, most of his classmates are Taiwanese or Korean or Hong Kongese, and the levels of English proficiency, while much higher than at a local school, are still not as high as they would be at a school back in the US. Anyway, he seems to like using English very much and is writing up a storm doing his homework each night. He really seems to be enjoying the creative allowance and the fact that his teachers want to know what he thinks…

Yes, we were on a waiting list for at least two years, and finally a place opened this year. My boy had to take and pass a reading comprehension test to be eligible for acceptance, and we were a bit worried. But, we did some preparation, using tests available on-line for measuring reading comprehension at different grade levels and he did just fine.

So, I would advise getting on a waiting list at least several years prior to your target year for transfer. Of course, it also depends on where you want to send your child. I believe TAS, for instance, is currently seeking students for its grade school classes, while I think its middle and high school classes are probably filled.

[quote=“Tigerman”]
I am the only one at home who speaks with my boy in English. However, I often took him out with me to places where doing so was appropriate (such as hanging out at the Post Home with Comrade Stalin :sunglasses: ) [/quote]

I’ll bet that has done wonders for both his vocabulary and accent. :wink: :laughing:

Tigerman:

Your advised that I should put my boy’s name on the waiting list approx. 2 years prior target year, but what happens if a place comes available before intended year? How does this work, do you know?

You also mentioned that you did some preparation for the reading test through use of on-line material. Is this on-line material provided by the school that you applied to?

Lastly, I mentioned in my earlier post that, due to my wife’s english proficiency, she’s worried about not being able to help much with my boy’s homework. Does your wife have the same hesitations? So far, how difficult has your boy’s homework been and is your wife able to help…not incl. maths…or, will you be responsible for his homework?

[quote=“Geordie Boy”]Tigerman:

You advised that I should put my boy’s name on the waiting list approx. 2 years prior target year, but what happens if a place comes available before intended year? How does this work, do you know?[/quote]

I guess this is difficult… Of course you don’t need to enter as soon as a space opens… and if there are others on the list the school would simply give the space to the next child “in line”. I guess you’d have to inquire as to whether a school would hold your child’s place in line for the next year. Who knows, however, whether in x years from now the school you select will even have a waiting list… ??

No. These were tests that are available on-line. Also, we just did a lot of reading and I asked my boy to answer each of the “who, what, where, when, why and how” of the story or article. Here are some sites… smell the glove sent some or all of these to me and they were perfect for our purposes:

Tests

Tests

Tests

Tests

My wife was responsible for homework help from 1st through 8th grade. Now, homework help is my responsibility.

Maths has been easy for my boy, coming from the local schools. In each of his other classes they have him writing a fair amount. But, it isn’t that difficult and he seems to like it quite a bit. They keep asking him for his opinion… something none of his teachers at the local schools ever did.

He spends about two hours per night on homework… but, again, he seems to actually enjoy it. The kids who have been going there longer spend a bit less time, I imagine. Also, they get out of school much earlier than the local schools and the teachers stay at the school for 1.5 hours after school ends and help any of the kids with the homework.

Both of you are correct but I would choose for studying in international school because it can provide better learning environment and can learn better English. Since both of you are Chinese so I don’t think you can’t teach Chinese to your sun by yourself. Besides, you live in Taiwan it can easy for your sun to get to learn Chinese by himself either.

You can provide a good learning environment at home. You can teach English at home naturally, by speaking and reading.

Not sure who you are addressing, but I am not Chinese.

I disagree. How many people live in Taiwan and yet do not speak Taiwanese?

Tigerman:

Thank you so much for your help. Your information, as well as others who had replied, has removed much of mine and my wife’s anxiety and I’m now more confident that the educational path we have chosen for our boy is the correct one.

All the best to you and your family…

Sorry for joining the debate here so late. I’m from the US, and my wife is Taiwanese and spent seven years in the US doing graduate school. We have a 4 year old boy and have been debating this question for a long time. Originally we thought that it would be wonderful if we could send him first to a local school, then switch around sixth or seventh grades to TAS. But then a few things happened…

It turns out that our boy shows some very slight autistic tendencies–nothing really serious, mind you–but this has made his language and social skills acquisition and development rather slow. We did have him in a local Chinese nursery school that we thought was quite good, but I don’t think he really was doing well there, even though I’m usually the only one at home to use English with him. If in the future he has more difficulties, however, I would rather have him in an English-language system (either American or British), since the schools and teachers, I think, do better with providing individual attention when needed. Last summer, when we traveled back to the US and put him in American nursery schools (three different ones, as we spent time in various places), he loved it immediately–suddenly showed a lot of enthusiasm about going to school in the morning. This indicated something to us, so this fall we have switched him to an English preschool, and it has been working out much better.

Also, he seems to have inherited more of my genes, so that he looks…well, a lot like what I did when I was four. And he must have gotten all of my Dutch genes for height, because he’s already chest-high on me, and I’m 6’0". Most people think he’s already eight–he’s practically off the charts for height. We’re afraid he’ll just stick out like a sore thumb if we were to send him to a local school.

And early last summer, we learned about what happened to acquaintances who are in a similar situation as ours (American husband, Taiwanese wife, but two older kids) and who had the same plan that we had originally. However, once their kids reached sixth grade and they wanted to switch into TAS, they couldn’t pass any of the language proficiency tests, and were denied admission. They’re now attending Taiwanese junior high.

Finally, we recalled some acquaintances and classmates that both of us had while we were still graduate students in the US. Some of these were boys whose parents shuffled them off to live with American relatives in their early teenage years in order to avoid the draft in Taiwan, some were kids who had switched to American high schools after receiving Taiwanese elementary and junior high training, and so on. There was nothing wrong with their ability to converse in English–some were, in fact, extremely refined socially. But to put it bluntly, almost none of them (there were only one or two exceptions) could write their way out of a paper bag. Their “weak spot” would show up whenever they had to write something. This certainly would place limits around what they would do in their later careers.

Conclusion: we’re going the American school route. It will strain the budget, but we’ll manage.

BB:

It’s good to hear another parents perpective. The more information I can gather, the better.

Like I mentioned on my initial post, my boy currently attends a Bi-lingual kindy, where morning classes are taught in english and chinese classes in the afternoon. When he eventually goes to local elementary, our plan now is for him to also attend an english program after school. From the infomation that I have gathered, this program runs from Mon-Fri (Excl. Tues.), 1.30pm-4.30pm. So hopefully, by attending this program, plus home tutoring by me and occassional overseas english summer camps, this will enough for my boy to pass the entry language proficiency test?

I must admit, I would be totally “gutted” if my boy did not reach the english entry requirement and end up going to local middle/high school.

Do you or anyone know what this english proficiency test involves? How difficult is is?

I’d like to jump in too, if I can. I’m also an American and my wife is Taiwanese. My two daughters (5 and 7) are going to one of the international schools as well. There was some big worrying going on for a year or two prior to their enrollment. Everybody seems to have the same worries so to make a long story short I’ll just say what we decided and why. We went international because we figured that our children would more than likely be going to university in the west, so it was more important to focus on the English. My children’s first language is Chinese, and they speak it exclusively with my wife while they speak English exclusively with me. My wife and a Chinese/math tutor have been filling in the elementary school stuff quite easily. The English they are getting in school is pretty easy, so my wife can help with a lot of it (and my wife’s English is pretty bad.) If she finds something she doesn’t understand, she just asks me. Homework is about 15 minutes a night. When they get older, more of the English will be shifted to me, but by that time, I think they’ll be able to handle a lot of it on their own. I think if I knew I was going to go back to America when my kids hit junior high, I would just put them in a local school, but because I’m going to be here for a LONG time, I wanted to make sure they got the English. My nephew (also half American, half Taiwanese) was born and raised in Taiwan until 13 years old. They moved to America and he had ZERO English. A year later he came back for a visit and he spoke English just like any other American junior high school kid. (Kids are incredible.)

I think the point is that there are all kinds of different ways to do it. No one way is perfect.

Nicya - You’re right, there is no perfect way, just good intensions.

It’s interesting to hear you say that, if you knew you were going back to the US when your kids reach high school, you would send to local school and vice-versa. I would think most parents would do the opposite? But, I guess it all comes down where your kids decide to live/work once their studies are over. If they choose to come back to Taiwan, I would imagine having a strong chinese base would certainly be advantages.

Having read “BB” post, I’m certainly more concerned and worried, in a way, pressure. From what I know, there are only a couple of Int’l schools…that also offer high school… to choose from, if my boy does not meet their entry requirements, and we do not want him to go local, there’s basically one option left, abroad…my wife will not be too pleased !

To the OP, it’s really a matter of priorities and how far you are willing to go.We were in the same delimma a couple of years back when my elder son reached school age and i thought I’d share our experience.
Here’s our background:I’m a foreign borned Chinese married to a Taiwanese husband (also of chinese descend, of course).I want proficiency in both Chinese and English, as well as a healthy, inquisitive and creative mind for both my children.My husband was adamant about the ‘root’ thing, which I agreed is important but I was also terribly worried about the spartan styled eduacation here. So we did some homework…
We ended up sending my son ,then my daugther this year, to a very good local primary school.Our plan is to stick with the local system for a couple of years, then move on to TAS when the time comes for high school.
Like I said, there really is no right or wrong decision in situations like that; a lot really depends on where your priorities are. If all you want is proficiency in the conversational Chinese, then a private tutor is all that is needed. However, in our case, we wanted the whole package, inclusive of the ancient ‘four books and five thesis’ (which by the way, my son is now doing in grade 3).I knew I could not teach my kids that, so ,local it has to be. There are some local grade schools that are basically quite liberal in their approach.There is never any memorising, not even the times-table.But now that they are doing the ‘Wen Yen Wen’,there’s bound to be recitals and hard memory work.That’s the only exception, honest.
Their school hours are from 7:40 to 12:00, with exception of one day when they have to stay till four. Lots of field trips, lots of science and art projects, a lot of parental interactions.
So all in all, the local scenario isn’t as bad as I’d imagined. But of course, there are the ‘traditional’
schools that drill and spoon feed.What I’m saying is you’d have to hunt deligently for the right ‘fit’.
Sports is one problem though, the school doesn’t offer a lot there. But with a half day program, we are free for tennis, blade skating, swimming , ball games, cycling everyday.
As for English, well, I homeschool, sort of. It’s very time consuming,but worth it.It was quite daunting initially, then I found some homeschooling sites, and slowly, it gets easier and easier. No bushiban for me, not at all cost effective, in my opinion.
You mentioned that your wife is worried about the drug, attitude problems that may come from international schools, no worries there. My niece (foreigner of chinese descend) was in the TAS up till last year before she went back home with her mom.According to my cousin, they have very strict code of conduct in school, also moral education is emphsized, well at least in the lower grades. Of course, you hear about kids doing drugs etc,well it happens alot in local schools too. Parents play a big part in this sort of things you know.
Sorry it got this long,hope it helped.

Asianmom which is this primary school? It sounds like every Western parent’s dream come true!