At Satit Bilingual School of Rangsit University our students are actually learning their own language at home. For some it will be Chinese or Thai, for example. The process is natural.
However, when they enter SBS Chiangmai English will be everywhere – in their classrooms and in the display areas of the library. They are, in fact, learning two languages simultaneously. Our ‘toddler’ (pre-kindergarten) students, of course, already have begun learning their own language at home. They can understand and speak their family language – but, at a beginners level. The task of our teachers is to introduce them to the sounds and symbols of English. Of course some parents will want their child to begin formal study of their own language.
Our teachers know how important it is to create just the right kind of learning environment for second-language learning. No threats, warm and trusting. Children feel comfortable, happy, and even excited. The aim is to simulate a home-like environment with one big exception: the surround sounds and visuals will now include English. For many children the introduction to English as a second language learning at SBS Chiangmai is achieved almost imperceptibly. It is a process that approximates their learning of their first language. Young children are only incidentally aware of the fact that they are acquiring the international language, English.
We are proud that our teachers in the early years are chosen not only because of their experience and training but because of their personalities. They exude friendliness as exemplified by their smiles and bright eyes; and, they love young children.
In the pre-kindergarten section, we try to have a balance, too, in the age of our teachers. Many are of an age similar to the parents of the children; some, though, are older, perhaps like uncles or aunties. And, of course, we try to have a balance between genders, some are women, some are men. Again, these teacher selection criteria reflect the real world in which children live.
Older children entering SBS for the first time but who have not had the benefit of learning Basic English in their early years, are able to enter a special ‘catch-up’ programme. When their English skills have developed sufficiently they will be permitted to join the regular programme.
Although acquiring competence in English as a second language is of fundamental importance at SBS, it is not at the expense of high levels of academic achievement in foundation subjects. We know and understand that many parents look for schools that are able to produce high achievement levels in both mathematics and the sciences, as well as in international social studies. SBS already has an enviable record of producing high achievement levels in these academic areas.
Dr. Apiramon Ourairat, Chief Executive Officer
Satit Bilingual School of Rangsit University