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Mastering the Balance: How the Lower School Perfects its Mandarin Program

Mastering the Balance: How the Lower School Perfects its Mandarin Program

By Lindsey Kundel, Director of Communications and Marketing

In preparation for this year's Lower School Open House, TAS is shining the spotlight on our incredible early childhood program. Every Wednesday for the next month, we will publish a new article about our early childhood program, with information to help any prospective family as they consider becoming a Tiger family. 

At the heart of Taipei American School (TAS) lies an unwavering commitment: to provide an American-based education imbued with a global perspective. While the primary medium of instruction is English, reflecting the American ethos, the profound legacy of 74 years rooted in Taipei ensures that Mandarin holds a special place, especially in our Lower School. 

Michael O’Neill, Director of Admissions, encapsulates this vision: "TAS isn’t about binaries. Our students don't have to choose between an American education and embracing local heritage. Here, they receive the best of both worlds." 

From Grade K in our Lower School, TAS introduces students to the nuanced beauty of the Mandarin language. Caroline Hsu, K-5 Mandarin Coordinator, elucidates, “Every child’s linguistic journey is different. Our daily Mandarin sessions are not 'one size fits all.' They are tailored, ensuring that whether a student is taking their first steps in Mandarin or building upon a strong foundation, they are both challenged and supported." 

In fact, did you know that our Chinese Library is the only one of its kind in the entire world? We are so proud to host this incredible repository of knowledge on our campus, as a way for all of our students – regardless of age or linguistic ability – to grow in their love of and literacy in the Chinese language. 

Our Mandarin curriculum, a beacon of innovation, has garnered international attention, leading global institutions to our methods. Amanda Jacob, Dean of Teaching and Learning, who hosts TAS’s annual Chinese Literacy Symposium, notes, "Our Mandarin curriculum's impact extends beyond TAS. Through the Symposium, we're championing a collaborative approach to Mandarin education globally." 

Yet, the synthesis of the American educational model with Mandarin instruction extends beyond just textbooks. Caroline shares, "Our Chinese Library is not just a repository of books; it's a living testament to the rich tapestry of Chinese literature and culture. As students immerse themselves in these resources, they forge a deeper connection with the language and its heritage." 

The presentation space at the Chinese Library at TAS

E-chieh Lin, Director of Inclusion & Wellbeing, adds a broader perspective: " Language is more than words; it’s a bridge to understanding, empathy, and inclusion. Our emphasis on choosing a language that is inclusive whether it is in Mandarin or English reflects our dedication to fostering global citizens who value different perspectives and inclusive practices. " 

In essence, TAS's Lower School offers an unparalleled Mandarin experience. It’s not about being a bilingual school; it’s about creating bilingual, globally-minded individuals, nurtured in an American educational framework, and blossoming with the linguistic grace of Mandarin. 

Want to find out more about our incredible lower school program? Be sure to mark your calendar for the upcoming Lower School Open House, held this fall on Saturday, November 18, 2023.  

We hope to see you there, Future Tigers!