For parents seeking the best bilingual education for their child in Hong Kong, this guide is for you! While most of Hong Kong international schools offer Putonghua as an additional language with English as the language of instruction, there are now in total 13 schools that place a huge emphasis on teaching 50% of the time in Putonghua. Anne Murphy, Head of the School Advisory Services, ITS Education Asia, has rounded up all the details on these schools in Hong Kong.
The school follows the local curriculum and uses Putonghua as the main medium of instruction, with traditional Chinese characters and English is also taught daily. The school has a kindergarten section and children receive priority in the admissions process for Primary One entry. About 70% of the student population are from Hong Kong. It’s not uncommon for students to transfer to the international section from the local stream. All three sections (Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary) are housed in the same buildings in North Point. Classes are large – similar to other local schools. Although the secondary school offers the UK National Curriculum and students in Year 11 complete their IGCSEs and then move on to the two year program of the IB Diploma, it is more like a local school due to student composition and facilities.
Kiangsu Chekiang Primary School & College, www.kcis.edu.hk
CIS is one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious and popular private schools. The school offers a bilingual education for children from Reception to Year 13 and is a through-train IB world school. CIS was the first school in Hong Kong to deliver an international curriculum using English and Putonghua. Classes are conducted in 50% English and 50% Putonghua; one native English speaking teacher and one native Chinese speaking teacher are in all classes at Primary level. English is the medium of instruction at the secondary level and additional classes are offered in Putonghua. Students at the secondary level also have the opportunity to study French or Spanish. A unique programme which CIS offers is the boarding opportunity for Year 10 students at their sister school in Mainland China, Hangzhou. This is not mandatory for all students but by 2023, all students will be required to spend Year 10 in Hangzhou.
Chinese International School, www.cis.edu.hk
This school primarily caters to Singapore citizens and is run by the Singaporean Ministry of Education, thus ensuring a good selection of teachers from Singapore. Whilst the Putonghua is strong, the majority of classes are delivered in English and written Chinese is in simplified characters, with a strict focus on the Singapore Chinese syllabus. The standard of mathematics and science is just as strong as the Chinese programme.
Singapore International School (SIS), www.singapore.edu.hk
SA is part of the Victoria Educational Organisation – children who attend the kindergartens operated by the organization have priority for Primary One interview at VSA. Applications for Primary One are not accepted from non-existing students or debenture holders. The primary section offers a bilingual education while the secondary curriculum is delivered in English and supplemented by a strong Putonghua programme. As a Private Independent School, at least 70% of students must be HK Permanent Residents. VSA offers language support for non-native English speaking students. Additional language classes are offered in Mandarin, French and Spanish.
Victoria Shanghai Academy, www.vsa.edu.hk
The Independent Schools Foundation Academy (The ISF Academy) is a non-profit private independent school providing a unique inquiry-based Putonghua and English bilingual immersion education. Classes are conducted at 70% Putonghua / 30% English from Foundation Grade to Grade 5 and then 50%/50% till upper high school with 30% English/70% Putonghua. As a Private Independent School, at least 70% of students must be HK Permanent Residents. It is a traditionally Chinese-focused school with a global perspective. The Academy is an accredited International Baccalaureate (IB) World school. Its Diploma results place it in the top tier of Hong Kong IB schools; more than two-thirds of its graduates achieve the coveted Bilingual Diploma, twice the global average.
Independent Schools Foundation Academy (ISF), www.isf.edu.hk
Po Leung Kuk Choi Kai Yau School is a through-train private independent school for students aged 7–18 years old. CKY is a school with approximately 1,300 students. CKY is neither an international school nor a traditional local school, as it strives to offer the best of Chinese and Western education practices. The teacher-student ratio is 1:10 with approximately 60% native English speakers and 40% native Putonghua speakers. The school offers a number of scholarships and fee assistance schemes. At the primary level, there is a co-teaching system to provide a truly bilingual (English and Putonghua, supplemented with Cantonese) environment. The curriculum follows the standard first ten years of primary and secondary education with the final two years spent on the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. In years 6-10, students learn through the UK national curriculum and complete IGCSEs exams at Year 11.
Po Leung Kuk Choi Kau Yau, cky.edu.hk
Kingston International School is a private co-educational primary school set up in 2002; it is affiliated with Kingston International Kindergarten. KIS is a family-friendly school with a 70% local student population. It accommodates up to 305 students with 22 students in each class. The Primary School has been authorized to offer the IBPYP since 2004 with classes conducted bilingually in English and Putonghua. Each class is led by 1 fully qualified native English teacher and 1 fully qualified native Putonghua teacher for a full immersive bilingual education. Teaching children how to relate what they learn in the classroom to the world outside. KIS feeds into International College Hong Kong (ICHK) for Secondary, which is not bilingual.
Kingston International School, www.kingston.edu.hk
IMS is the only accredited Montessori Primary School in Hong Kong. With multiple campuses on Hong Kong island each catering to children of different ages. In the Montessori Primary Years Programme, the Chinese Language Programme offers a Montessori approach to learning in Chinese, in two streams. Children in Stream 1 are primarily native and ‘near-native’ Putonghua speakers, most of whom have attended the full 3-year Casa dei Bambini Programme at IMS. Stream 2 consists mainly of non-native Putonghua speakers who are interested in learning Chinese with an emphasis on the development of oral fluency. Stream 2 also includes classes that accommodate beginner language learners with no previous experience in Chinese. Additionally, IMS has developed its own specially tailored materials, such as levelled readers, which enable IMS to execute its Chinese language curriculum in alignment authentic Montessori scope and sequence. Traditional characters are taught in both for reading and writing.
International Montessori School, www.ims.edu.hk
YCIS provides a bilingual education for children aged 6 months to 18 years with a local student population of 55%. YCIS’s International Primary school curriculum is based on the framework of the National Curriculum for England with the added benefit of an extensive Chinese Language and Culture Programme, as well as the school’s Character Education Programme. YCIS Hong Kong offers CFL (Chinese and a First Language) and CAL (Chinese as an Additional Language) classes, each with multiple levels, to ensure that students receive an appropriately challenging Chinese-language course. The school also offers an EAL (English as an Additional Language), in Primary, there is in- or out-of-class support and in the Secondary section, there is parallel classes, providing the English Intensive Programme from Year 7 to 11.
Yew Chung International School, www.ycis-hk.com
St. Stephen’s College Preparatory School is an extremely popular, Christian school, which has been opened for over 112 years. More than 1,000 children on average compete for about 100 Primary One seats every year. English is the major medium of instruction and Putonghua as the medium of instruction for Chinese classes. Classes are no more than 30 students (ratio of teacher to pupils 1:18). The School has put great efforts on nurturing students, training them to develop a strong passion for learning and a proactive attitude so a strong foundation is laid before they advance to the secondary level (St Stephen’s College). Since the Prep School is a direct feeder school to St. Stephen’s College, 96% of the Grade 6 students are allocated placements directly to the College. One of the unique features is the one year compulsory boarding programme, which helps students to become very independent and confident. This 'home-away-from-home', gives them an opportunity to develop their interpersonal and intra-personal skills along with some useful life skills.
St. Stephen’s College Preparatory School, www.sscps.edu.hk
Dalton School Hong Kong, opened in August 2017 for Year 1 and Year 2 students. It offers a child-centered programme based on the world-renowned Dalton plan. DSHK integrates eastern and western educational disciplines. The academic program emphasizes exploration, collaboration, and self-learning, encouraging students to develop community networks in harmony and building a noble character. It has partnered with Tsinghua University Primary School to provide a strong emphasis on Chinese language, culture, and values.
Dalton School Hong Kong, www.dshk.edu.hk
Han Academy opened in September 2017 with an enrolment of 50 students. The school offers Year 1 priority to Kowloon Nobel Kindergarten students. It is founded by Happy Life Education Foundation Limited. Primary students from Year 1 study the Cambridge English program with ESL programs also on offer. However, the main teaching language is Putonghua (80%) with English (20%) with a strong emphasis on STEM (science and maths). As students’ progress to Cambridge secondary level, English will be the main language for lesson instruction. The school offers Cambridge IGCSE and IB Diploma Program.
Han Academy, www.hanacademy.edu.hk
A new bilingual school which is planned to open in 2019 for primary level students with the initial capacity for 84 students. This school is jointly established by the Confucius Hall of Hong Kong and the International Chinese Academy Education Foundation (ICAEF). The secondary school is expected to be ready for the 2021-2022 academic year. CAPS will offer a curriculum that aims to fuse traditional Chinese principles and Western culture, with 60 percent of its teaching time in English and the remainder in Putonghua (traditional Chinese writing). Classes will incorporate teachings of Chinese philosopher Confucius but also adopt British education traditions.
Chinese Academy Primary School, www.caps.edu.hk