Like Tree3Likes
  • 2 Post By dede
  • 1 Post By howardcoombs

Dear ISF Parents - Your Advice Please

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Hong Kong

    Dear ISF Parents - Your Advice Please

    Our daughter has been accepted by ISF for Foundation Year. We are thrilled by the good news, but also need some input to help us make the final decision.

    Background: We are a native-Mandarin speaking family who've spent many years in the States. We mostly speak Mandarin with our daughter at home. She goes to an international pre-school. Currently her Mandarin is stronger than her English.

    We like many things about ISF. The only remaining question we have is the amount of English exposure. 30% roughly translates into 1-1.5 hours a day. Is it enough? How do the students' English speaking, reading and writing compare to their peers at other international schools? In the event that we need to move back to the States in a few years, will she have difficulty adjusting to the American system?

    Would love to hear your perspective ...

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    hong kong

    You're gonna start off a thread full of strong opinions about ISF.

    I will pose the question(s); if your daughter's Mandarin is her primary language, is it not English you want to develop and does it not make more sense to go a an 100% English medium of instruction school as opposed to just 30%?

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    ISF Question

    A highly regarded blog by a woman who calls herself Gweipo -- has been a well worn source of well thought out information about ISF for the two years. Every time this site gets a ton of angry or questioning comments, many tell prospective parents to turn to this very intelligent blog. If you just use ISF as a search term you can follow her thoughts easily. You will note though, as willing as she was to accept her lot with ISF, if you look at one of her last posts -- March 1 (How Do You Know When to Jump) you will see a person who has now become extremely disalusioned and ready to pull the cord. This more than many sources of information, is something not to be taken lightly.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Apr 2010

    i mentioned this in another post,but i will add it again.
    ISF seems to be very impressive with it's mandarin programme.
    this is unfortunately at the expense of english.
    if your concern is mandarin and not english,then this is your school.
    if english is your priority,then ISF is seriously lacking in commitment or energy.
    they are determined to attract mainland chinese students,and for this reason they give priority.
    interestingly though some teachers are not from china but from Hk,so,the accent is an issue when it comes for mandarin..!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    South District

    no system can promise to do well in BOTH languages...children are only at school for 8 hours and unless you divide the time 50/50 students will ALWAYS be exposed to one language more than another.

    as a family you need to think what is important for you since everyone's situation is different. if you want more english (because Chinese is already fluent for your child) than I'd go to a school with more english...if however you want the focus to be on chinese (even though your child is fluent) then stick with a school that has a lot of exposure to chinese. being in the States though could possibly make learning English easy because you are exposed to it on a daily level EVERYWHERE - whereas with Chinese you'd only be exposed to it at home and the amount of exposure is negligible in comparison...

    if your kid stays till middle school age (where they start using the IB system) then he/she should have no problem adjusting back to the school system in the States (as many are changing to the IB now).

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Aug 2009

    Mandarin at the expense of English?

    Not sure whether you are familiar with the ACER test, a test designed for international schools and conducted by Australian Council for Educational Research (Home | ACER). A number of international schools in HK take part in the test (including Chinese International School and Canadian International School). The results for the 2010/2011 round of tests were out about a month ago. In mathematics, ISF students' scores are statistically significantly above HK average. In reading and narrative writing (English), the ISF students are above average (but not statistically significant). In expository writing (English), ISF students are again statistically significantly above average. Chinese is not a test subject in ACER test. It it were, I'm quite certain that ISF students would far far exceed average in the Chinese department.

    The immersion mode is working. The lower primary kids who are taught Chinese math do well in the ACER math test, which is conducted in English. Obviously the students are transferring the concepts and knowledge learned in one language for use in the other.

    Some say ISF is not international enough. Not sure what it means. If you look at the kids in the primary section, about 1/3 of them are native English speakers from all over the world, 1/3 of them native Mandarin speakers from China/Taiwan/Singapore..., and 1/3 of them from local families. Is this not more international than a 100% English speaking school where some of the kids and their parents are simply ignorant and disrespectful of Chinese/Asian cultures? Show me another international school whose students can do like "River Cultures vs. Ocean Cultures", "Roman Latin vs Ancient Chinese" in both English and Chinese languages.

    Last edited by dede; 13-05-2011 at 11:33 AM. Reason: correcting typo
    shri and howardcoombs like this.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Happy Valley
    Quote Originally Posted by dede
    Some say ISF is not international enough. Not sure what it means. If you look at the kids in the primary section, about 1/3 of them are native English speakers from all over the world, 1/3 of them native Mandarin speakers from China/Taiwan/Singapore..., and 1/3 of them from local families.
    Note: I'm not disagreeing with you, just trying to show what they mean as I've had this discussion with more than a few parents. I have 1 kid in ISF.

    1) Its not international enough as it doesnt follow US/UK/Aus/Can/etc etc curriculum but rather the HK curriculum. This matters to some who are looking to go back home at some point in the future. BTW: I'm really glad that ISF doesnt like take kids in who are relatively transient with parents who will only be here short term.

    2) If you look at the secondary school faces, you will only see 3-4 non-chinese faces; the rest is look completely Chinese. The complainers need to be reminded not to judge a book by its cover. The primary schools has a lot more non-chinese faces but still relatively few compared to most other international schools which are usually full of western kids.

    dede likes this.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Aug 2009

    Hi Howard,

    True that you don't see a lot of non-Chinese faces at ISF, especially at the secondary school. I just don't take it for granted that a school with more non-Chinese faces is per se a school with a more global perspective.

    As for the curriculum, I can understand why a Brit may prefer IGCSE or an Aussie may prefer High School Cert. Exam. But, the IB DP/MYP is as international and widely accepted as other national curricula.