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Chinese Language Education in Alberta


Overview of the Chinese Language Education in Elementary Schools and High Schools in Alberta, Canada

Welcome to the official website of Chinese language education of Alberta, Canada! Welcome to Alberta, a piece of caring, lively and beautiful land. “The Earth is our home.” People of different races, different colors and different cultural backgrounds are cultivating this garden of Chinese language teaching and breeding gorgeous flowers with their sweat. Communication between governmental agencies and the civil society, complementation between school education and community training with their respective advantages, and exchanges between Chinese teachers and overseas teachers are the magic keys to the prosperity and day-to-day progress of the Chinese language education in Alberta.

1. Alberta Education:

Alberta Education is located in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta. Alberta Education is responsible for the teaching from kindergarten to grade 12, providing support to students, parents, teachers and administrators. As a country of federal system, Canada does not have a federal ministry of education. The department of education of each province shall be the highest education authority of the province. Alberta Education is the highest education authority in Alberta. The responsibilities of Alberta Education include the development of courses and supporting standards; course assessment; teacher training and qualification certification; support for students with special needs; funding for and support to the municipal education agencies; support for aboriginals and French education; policies and regulation on the supervision over basic education.

Currently, Alberta Education plans and supports the education of 12 foreign languages. The Department works with the International Education Services Office, Strategic Services and Governance sector, to put in place special advisors of different languages, who are responsible for various jobs related to the teaching of the languages and promotion of the cultures across the province. Currently, languages that have special language and culture advisors include Chinese, German, Spanish, Japanese and Ukrainian.

2. Chinese language education in Alberta:

The types of Chinese language education are shown in the following table: 

 

Type of School

Full-time High School and Elementary School Weekend Chinese Language School  Adult Part-time Education Higher Education
 Chinese-English Bilingual CSL  
Number of Schools

 23

 20+

Universities, colleges and Chinese language schools 4 universities
Number of Students

 2,300+

 2,000+

 4,500+

   

Alberta has two major cities, both of which have strong capability of Chinese teaching.

(1) Edmonton:
Edmonton launched its first pilot project of bilingual Chinese and English programs in kindergartens in 1982. This bilingual program turned out to be a great success. Thus, the Chinese and English bilingual program was established in 1983. Thereafter, the Chinese and English bilingual program had one more Grade each year. Please see the following table:

Time 

Grades with the Chinese and English bilingual course     

 1982

 Kindergarten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 1983

 Kindergarten

 Grade 1

 

 

 

 

 

 1984

 Kindergarten

 Grade 1

 Grade 2

 

 

 

 

 1985

 Kindergarten

 Grade 1

 Grade 2

 Grade 3

 

 

 

 1986

 Kindergarten

 Grade 1

 Grade 2

 Grade 3

 Grade 4  

 

 

 1987

 Kindergarten

 Grade 1

 Grade 2

 Grade 3

 Grade 4 

 Grade 5  

 

 1988

 Kindergarten

 Grade 1

 Grade 2

 Grade 3

 Grade 4 

 Grade 5 

 Grade 6   

In January 1989, Edmonton Public School Board opened the Chinese language and culture program from Grade 7 to Grade 9 in junior high schools, where optional courses for the Chinese language as the second language were offered.

In February 1992, Edmonton Public School Board introduced the Mandarin International Baccalaureate standards to students from Grade 10 to Grade 12 in senior high schools. High school graduates participating in the international Chinese test for the first year graduated in 1995.

There were only 33 kindergarten students learning both Chinese and English at the very beginning in 1982. Now, there are over 1,900 students (from kindergartens to Grade 12) learning in 13 public bilingual schools in EPSB.

(1) Calgary:
Calgary is located in the south of Alberta. It is an emerging oil industrial city. Calgary used to be an agricultural area. It rapidly rose to be a world oil center in the 1970s. Its oil industry and chemical industry are quite centralized. The education in Calgary is well developed; the early childhood education system is quite complete; a lot of big companies there provide day care service directly for babies. The Chinese language education in Calgary Board of Education is growing fast recently. There are a large of mount of weekend schools offering Chinese education in Calgary. There are nearly 2,000 students learning Chinese in weekend schools.

3. Setup of Chinese programs

The Chinese and English bilingual program is approved by Alberta Education and implemented upon the choice of the education jurisdictions of Education of each city at their sole discretion. Students participating in the project learn half the course in English and half the course in Chinese. This project is unique in North America because it provides students with a continuum for the bilingual learning of both Chinese and English all the way from kindergarten to G 12.

The bilingual program in kindergartens is aimed at adaptation to the development of the situation of the international community, and the development of the moral, intellectual, physical and language skills for students.

During the elementary school phase (from Grade 1 to Grade 6 of elementary schools), subjects taught in English include: English language art, science and social studies; subjects taught in Chinese include Chinese language art, mathematics, art, health and physical education. Music lessons can be taught in both Chinese and English.

During the junior high school and senior high school phase, the Chinese language art course is offered as an optional course for the purpose of the enhancement of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills and the development of conversation. The contents of learning include various short stories, novels, drams, poems, etc. Meanwhile, art and activities related to the Chinese culture are also included. In terms of computer skills, it is required that the Chinese character entry and relevant processing skills should be practiced. Credits can be granted for Chinese language art courses, just like other optional courses.

Except for the regular courses from kindergarten to high school, public schools in Edmonton also provide International Baccalaureate courses and preparatory courses for college as well as featured courses in art, drama, physical educatioin, music, foreign language, occupational courses, etc. Chinese International Baccalaureate course is also included. Currently, the International Baccalaureate course of public high schools in Edmonton is only provided in over one thousand schools in 100 countries. Top students in the International Baccalaureate can be directly admitted by many internationally renowned universities.

4. Chinese teaching staff in Alberta: 
        
All the elementary and high schools in Alberta have high-quality faculty, advanced teaching equipment, scientific teaching plans and rich extracurricular activities. The schools focus on the exploration of advantages and hobbies of each student, and attach great importance to the exploration and development of special skills of students, so as to enhance the comprehensive quality of students and help them grow in a comprehensive and healthy manner. All the teachers hold the teacher’s license in Alberta, Canada and participate in relevant professional training each year.

Take Edmonton Public School Board for example. EPSB is the leading jurisdiction of all the public schools in language programs in Alberta, Canada. EPSB has over 200 public schools ranging from elementary schools to high schools, including 3 high schools, 4 junior high schools and 6 elementary schools providing Chinese English bilingual program.

Alberta does not have Chinese teachers under government sponsorship but has special language and culture advisor under government sponsorship. The responsibilities of the special language and culture advisor include: (1) advise and provide leadership to professional educators appointed by the Department in the planning and development of Chinese language and cultural programs, including the identification, evaluation and selection of appropriate learning resources; (2) provide consultative services to teachers and school systems on matters related to Chinese language and cultural program; (3) provide assistance to organizers of educational exchanges and school partnerships; (4) provide advice and assistance for departmental missions to China; (5) Be available to school jurisdictions in the development of the English-Chinese bilingual programs; (6) be available for consultative purposes to personnel in private schools and educational institutions that are engaged in Chinese language and cultural activities.

5. Schools in Alberta:

All the schools are day schools. Regardless of elementary schools or high school, students usually choose schools close to their homes. For students who live far away from their homes, the schools have shuttle buses. Each school has advanced education and teaching equipment to help students to receive better education. Resources of schools include advanced computer centers, libraries with a large number of books and disks, science labs, and etc. Over half of the schools have remote multi-media teaching facilities.

The schools also provide students with good sports and entertainment facilities, including gymnasiums, dancing classrooms, gyms, indoor gymnasiums, and etc. Students can have fun from various extracurricular activities and sports, such as soccer, basketball, badminton, ice hockey, cross-country games, skiing, and etc. These activities provide students who want to have social activities but at the same time like sports with more open and freer space. Besides, the creative extracurricular activities organized by the schools such as writing and photography provide students with broader space for the development of hobbies.