Q: Is the bilingual program compulsory?
Yes. Abbotsford Primary School is a Designated Bilingual Program (DBP), which requires 100% participation from all students enrolled. If you are in our School Zone, but do not wish your child to undertake bilingual education, you will need to look for another school which can host you as an out-of-school-zone enrolment.
Q: Does my child need to have some proficiency in Chinese before coming to Abbotsford PS?
No. In fact, 95%+ of our students come from a non-Chinese-speaking household and have had very little or no exposure to Chinese before coming to Abbotsford Primary School.
Q: So how do children catch up with their Chinese if they do not start from Foundation?
As the school offers both explicit instruction and immersion in Chinese, students tend to be able to follow and pick up high frequency vocabulary and phrases very quickly. This is especially the case for students joining the school from Foundation to Year 2, where the focus is mainly on oral development.
Students who are interested in joining the school at Year 3 or higher will benefit from some additional support, especially in their first term at Abbotsford Primary School. The school can arrange learning materials for the students, which allows them to have some exposure to:
Once the student enters our school, we also have a buddy system between native and non-native students. This system allows native speakers of Chinese to take on the challenge of supporting their new classmate in the same way they have been supported by native English speakers. This has proven to be a mutually beneficial model for both students' language development, and a great booster on both students' self-efficacy.
At the end of the day, passion is the most important thing you can prepare your child for success in a bilingual school. Like the saying, if there is a will, there is a way. Every year, Abbotsford Primary School has students joining us at all year levels, and it always amazes the adults, staff and parents alike, how quickly children pick up additional languages. Over the years, we have learnt that when students are given the opporunity to be immersed in the language for 50% of the school hours, and have an inclusive, loving and caring environment like Abbotsford Primary School, they will thrive and overcome whatever challenge is presented to them.
Q: Where are your Chinese teachers from? Are they affiliated with the Confucius Institute?
All teachers at Abbotsford Primary School are locally trained and registered with the Victorian Institute of Teaching. The school has no affiliation with the Confucius Institute, the language and culture advocacy arm of the Chinese government.
Our bilingual teachers also come from various parts of the Chinese-speaking world. Most have spent a significant part of their education in Australia and speak English to an advanced or near-native level.
Q: Which character script do you teach? Simplified Chinese or Traditional Chinese?
As per the Victorian Curriculum, the school currently teaches only Simplified Chinese. Nonetheless, students who have a Hong Kong, Macanese or Taiwanese background are encouraged to retain their knowledge of Traditional Chinese by learning to read Simplified Chinese but writing in Traditional Chinese. This flexible approach is also adopted by the Chinese staff team, with teachers encouraged to write in whichever script they are most comfortable with.