2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Developing Bilingual Curriculum for Chinese-Speaking Preschoolers

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Chiu Chi-Yuan, President of Geda, with Professor Hill and TC administrators

Chiu Chi-Yuan, President of Geda, with Professor Hill and TC administrators

Chiu Chi-Yuan, President of Geda, and Dean Darlyne Bailey sign agreement.

Chiu Chi-Yuan, President of Geda, and Dean Darlyne Bailey sign agreement.

Members of Taiwanese delegation and TC representatives at the signing ceremony

Members of Taiwanese delegation and TC representatives at the signing ceremony

On January 16, 2004, a delegation came from Taiwan to sign an agreement between Teachers College and the Geda Bilingual Education Company: Geda is contributing $2,500,000 to support the development of a preschool bilingual curriculum.

The delegation was headed by Chiu Chi-Yuan, who was representing Geda's initial founders, including Yuan Teng-Man, Yu Hui-Ling, Lin Chi-Jung, and the Lin Foundation, a prestigious foundation that has provided major support for students to attend colleges and universities throughout Taiwan. With this new venture the Lin Foundation will provide support for students to attend Teachers College, where they will join a team developing a curriculum to be used in Taiwan and Mainland China as well as in other parts of the world where there is a demand for Chinese-English bilingual education. It is noteworthy that this scholarship program will bring students from both Taiwan and the Mainland to work together at Teachers College.

The research and development team will be headed by Clifford Hill, the Arthur I. Gates Professor of Language and Education Emeritus, who has worked on educational projects built around digital technologies in various parts of the world. According to Professor Hill, the curriculum will use these technologies to stimulate children's learning: for example, for three-year-old children, speech-recognition and animation technologies will be used to help them explore the generative relations between oral language and image without the mediation of print.

Professor Hill also pointed out that the curriculum can be best understood as bicultural rather than merely bilingual, for one of its major goals is to encourage Chinese-speaking children to learn about western culture while maintaining the values that are important in their own culture. This new curriculum will seek to keep alive the educational thinking of John Dewey in the Chinese-speaking world. More than 80 years ago, Chen Hequin, who worked closely with Dewey at Teachers College, founded the famous Drum Tower kindergarten, which remains committed to the notion that children learn best by doing. The new curriculum will use digital technologies to stimulate active learning while at the same time respecting that children need to manipulate actual objects as well as virtual ones. Children's work with both the actual and the virtual will be digitally documented and stored in individual portfolios on a web site for use by the children, their teachers, and their parents.

This bilingual education project will be supported by the Center for Chinese Education and the Program in Bilingual Education and will be housed in the Institute of Urban and Minority Education. The new project is part of IUME's expansion as it moves to Teachers College's new site in Harlem.previous page