Please give me your advice on my kids' education in Taiwan

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Re: Please give me your advice on my kids' education in Taiwan

Postby larryher » 30 Jul 2012, 10:20

Petrichor wrote:
Hi larryher and sorry for the late reply.

It wasn't so much that we didn't choose the mountain school as they didn't choose us! When my husband went back to talk to them further they were full for next year and didn't have a place for our son. The mountain schools do have roughly a normal school curriculum anyway, though.



Thanks so much Petrichor!

I've read your post: "Enrolling Older Foreign Children in Local Schools". Your story made a deep impression on me because I have similar worries than you had and also because once you were living there you and your son did a great effort. I hope everything was finally solved and that you and your son are feeling great right now :bravo:

I am visiting Taipei this week (2nd August till 19th August) and I want to visit some schools, like you did... We will go to live there in February 2013 and if things go well we will be living there for at least 4 years but depends on things we could be living there much more. So I have to think like if we are going to live there for a long time. At the moment I am not thinking about where to live because we will go to live near the school.

As I said in my previos post my daughter Eva is 4 years-old and she will be 5 in february 2013. Of course I know that we don't have the same problem as Petrichor, Laguy and many others of you had with older kids but because English is not our language we have other problems...

Eva has already been attending school for 2 years in a trilingual school, Spanish-English-Basque (local language in the Basque Country in the north of Spain). I can imagine it sounds crazy but where we live the other alternative we had was studying only in Basque and I think we did well because at least Eva can understand some English right now and of course she speaks Spanish fluently.

The fact is that I am confused and I don't know what to do and I would appreciate very much your advices.

On one hand I would love Eva to learn Chinese but on the other hand I want her to improve her English and of course the most important thing is that I don't want Eva to live a bad experience but the opposite.

I was thinking to go to a bilingual school but when I read about the "mountain" schools I loved it, kaipakati's story is such a nice story that I just wanted to have the same experience. I loved the idea of few kids in the same classroom, loads of attention for every child, the environment, nature, learning Chinese. So I thought that It could be a great idea for Eva to attend that kind of school for 2-3 years (attending English lesson at home with a native English teacher) till her Chinese is good enough to go to a bilingual/international school with English too.

My questions are:

1.- Petrichor would you advice me to go to a "mountain" school for 2-3 years and later go to a bilingual school? (of course if the have place for Eva). Do you know if there are many problems to get in? Do you have any other suggestion for me?

2.- Does anyone have more information of "mountain" school? Names, directions, webs... I only have the website for Datun Guoxiao:
http://www.dtps.tp.edu.tw/ Are there other "mountain" shcools even if they are private schools?

3.- I have also hear about "alternative" private schools. Does anyone have any information about this kind of schools?

4.- I have also been checking aleegulotty's bilingual/international schools list but most of the websites English versions are really bad and I cannot get any information and also most of the schools are religious schools and I would prefer a non-religious school. Can anyone give me advice about bilingual / international schools?

I am sorry for the long post... I haven't been able to make it shorter :oops:

Thanks so much for reading me and for your advice!!!!
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Re: Please give me your advice on my kids' education in Taiwan

Postby Petrichor » 31 Jul 2012, 14:07

larryher wrote:
Petrichor wrote:
Hi larryher and sorry for the late reply.

It wasn't so much that we didn't choose the mountain school as they didn't choose us! When my husband went back to talk to them further they were full for next year and didn't have a place for our son. The mountain schools do have roughly a normal school curriculum anyway, though.



Thanks so much Petrichor!

I've read your post: "Enrolling Older Foreign Children in Local Schools". Your story made a deep impression on me because I have similar worries than you had and also because once you were living there you and your son did a great effort. I hope everything was finally solved and that you and your son are feeling great right now :bravo:

I am visiting Taipei this week (2nd August till 19th August) and I want to visit some schools, like you did... We will go to live there in February 2013 and if things go well we will be living there for at least 4 years but depends on things we could be living there much more. So I have to think like if we are going to live there for a long time. At the moment I am not thinking about where to live because we will go to live near the school.

As I said in my previos post my daughter Eva is 4 years-old and she will be 5 in february 2013. Of course I know that we don't have the same problem as Petrichor, Laguy and many others of you had with older kids but because English is not our language we have other problems...

Eva has already been attending school for 2 years in a trilingual school, Spanish-English-Basque (local language in the Basque Country in the north of Spain). I can imagine it sounds crazy but where we live the other alternative we had was studying only in Basque and I think we did well because at least Eva can understand some English right now and of course she speaks Spanish fluently.

The fact is that I am confused and I don't know what to do and I would appreciate very much your advices.

On one hand I would love Eva to learn Chinese but on the other hand I want her to improve her English and of course the most important thing is that I don't want Eva to live a bad experience but the opposite.

I was thinking to go to a bilingual school but when I read about the "mountain" schools I loved it, kaipakati's story is such a nice story that I just wanted to have the same experience. I loved the idea of few kids in the same classroom, loads of attention for every child, the environment, nature, learning Chinese. So I thought that It could be a great idea for Eva to attend that kind of school for 2-3 years (attending English lesson at home with a native English teacher) till her Chinese is good enough to go to a bilingual/international school with English too.

My questions are:

1.- Petrichor would you advice me to go to a "mountain" school for 2-3 years and later go to a bilingual school? (of course if the have place for Eva). Do you know if there are many problems to get in? Do you have any other suggestion for me?

2.- Does anyone have more information of "mountain" school? Names, directions, webs... I only have the website for Datun Guoxiao:
http://www.dtps.tp.edu.tw/ Are there other "mountain" shcools even if they are private schools?

3.- I have also hear about "alternative" private schools. Does anyone have any information about this kind of schools?

4.- I have also been checking aleegulotty's bilingual/international schools list but most of the websites English versions are really bad and I cannot get any information and also most of the schools are religious schools and I would prefer a non-religious school. Can anyone give me advice about bilingual / international schools?

I am sorry for the long post... I haven't been able to make it shorter :oops:

Thanks so much for reading me and for your advice!!!!


Hi larryher

Yes, we did end up resolving most of the problems we had last year and my son is now pretty happy and comfortable in his school. We're currently in the UK and he's very proud of his Chinese ability. He still hasn't reached the same level as his peers but he has made up a lot of ground and will hopefully continue to do so next year.

I'll try to answer some of your questions as best I can. I can't answer all of them but hopefully others will or will pm you.

1. It's difficult to advise another parent on their child's language education, and especially so for me as I don't have the long term experience that many other posters on this board have. Your idea of a Chinese followed by a bilingual environment could well work. With the mountain schools I think if you live close enough they have to take your child. They do seem to be becoming more and more popular. I don't think there's any particular problem with getting into a private bilingual school as long as you're prepared to pay the fees. The English-only international schools do have English language tests, though.

2. I will look to see if I have the contact details of another school that was recommended to me but again I think this was oversubscribed.

4. For international schools in Taipei there are only three I know of. That's TAS, TES and Dominican Academy. As you know, the last is a Christian school and you've said you'd prefer a non-religious school. The other two seem very good but are very expensive for parents on local wages.

Generally speaking, I would caution against sending Eva to an international school if you want her to maintain her Chinese. Chinese instruction at these schools is minimal. Also, whereas in other countries you might expect children to play out together and for that to be a way for them to learn/maintain a language, this is less the case in Taipei (assuming this is where you plan to live). You don't tend to see children playing outside so much because of the traffic situation and also because they're either in care or classes. And of course Eva wouldn't learn literacy in Chinese. To become functionally literate in Chinese I'd say she'd have to attend a bilingual school at least. It takes a long time and much more work to learn to read and write Chinese than a more phonetically-based language. There are opportunities for additional English language exposure and classes in Taipei, if you decide to go the route of a bilingual or local school.

I can see the difficulty of your situation and sympathise. There's very little English-language information available on this subject, which is one reason that I started the thread you mentioned. Please feel free to ask more questions as they arise.
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Re: Please give me your advice on my kids' education in Taiwan

Postby tsukinodeynatsu » 01 Aug 2012, 17:09

Petrichor wrote:
sandman wrote:
tsukinodeynatsu wrote:
sandman wrote:
tsukinodeynatsu wrote:I know to stay away from Dominican Academy... its pretty ...shocking? It's very much like a cram school, apparently.

I know one poster who sent his kid there and one poster who went to school there. Their experiences don't match yours.


I helped out a person who used to work there. Apparently the curriculum's quite behind what it should be for grade levels and whatnot.

Again, their experiences don't match yours. True, only one parent and one alumni. One's kid is on the fast track at a good US university now, the other has her degree from a good Canadian uni. The kid got into uni a year early, too. So that doesn't seem to jibe with your experience, either.


Are you two talking about the same place? I think tsukinodeynatsu might be talking about the one in Kaohsiung and Sandman about the one in Taipei.


I'm talking about KH, definitely. No idea about the Taipei one, but I'd be surprised if they share any more than a common name.
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Re: Please give me your advice on my kids' education in Taiwan

Postby Feiren » 01 Aug 2012, 19:42

I believe that Xinsheng Elementary School has been designated as a bilingual school. It's also one of Taipei's best elementary schools in a very wealthy area.

http://www.snes.tp.edu.tw/

Nangang Elementary School has a special bilingual section for the children of people working in the Neihu Software park or Academia Sinica. I've heard very good things about this from parents with kids there. Lots of Indian and Russian expats send their kids here.

http://nkpsen.tw.class.uschoolnet.com/

Gongguan Elementary school also has an alternative curriculum. Again, I know parents who are very happy with the education there.

http://wweb.gges.tp.edu.tw/index.php

Wanfang Elementary School is in a nice leafy part of Taipei. It's just an ordinary Taipei elementary school. A friend's daughter goes there. They are relatively happy with the school but less so about the forced napping, too much rote learning, and too much homework and tests even for first graders.

http://www.wfes.tp.edu.tw/

Here's the Humanities Elementary and Jr. High School out in Yilan. I visited this once. It seemed like a happy place with dedicated teachers and parents interested in an alternative to the mainstream Taiwanese educational system. Well worth considering but in an inconvenient location.

http://www.jwps.ilc.edu.tw/

Good luck!!
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Re: Please give me your advice on my kids' education in Taiwan

Postby asiababy » 01 Aug 2012, 19:58

I think we can lessen confusion when talking about smaller or rural schools by referring to them by their correct labels. There are "mountain area" schools, like the one my kids go to; public schools that follow the public school curriculum and may or may not have something special about them apart from being rural or in the mountains. (Actually their location usually makes them naturally different from city schools, but they follow the same system for academics.) Then, there are "forest schools", that are officially registered as such and have their own curriculum and goals, which can be quite different from the general public school curriculum.
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Re: Please give me your advice on my kids' education in Taiwan

Postby Petrichor » 04 Aug 2012, 01:34

A little more information on Xinsheng as I visited that school twice.

The school is required by the Government to take children from the Taipei City area who have poor skills in Chinese. Such children can't enrol directly at the school. They have to enrol at the school closest to their home then ask to be transferred to Xinsheng, where they will stay for one or two years while their Chinese skills improve, then they're transferred back to the original school.

The children have to sit a test before they are accepted (to demonstrate their poor Chinese presumably).

The school follows the standard public school curriculum and the non-Chinese-speaking children attend a basic Chinese class in place of another class for - from memory - just one class a day. The rest of the day they attend the normal classes with their classmates.
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Re: Please give me your advice on my kids' education in Taiw

Postby SandpaperTongue » 19 Oct 2012, 23:53

nohobobo wrote:Based on my own experience, a kid coming in to grade 1 here with zero Chinese could probably pull it off. A kid coming into grade 2 who could speak Chinese already but couldn't read or write would have a very, very difficult year but could probably get caught up if they worked very hard. It might even be possible (but extremely difficult) for a very bright kid to come into grade 3 here from the U.S. if (1) they already spoke Chinese when they arrived, and (2) had also been cramming Chinese reading & writing for at least a year in anticipation. After that I just can't imagine how it would be possible. The education system moves too fast here. Even normal kids struggle at times.

I know the American Schools here are expensive, but I think there are other international schools that are a bit more reasonably-priced and still offer a good quality of education. I don't really know that much about them (especially the schools in Kaohsiung) but maybe some other Forumosans have a better idea.....


Just wanted to add, this was my personal experience exactly. My parents were both Chinese professors in Taiwan, but I grew up in the US. When I was 7, they brought me back here for school, and it was hell. Even though my parents are obviously super fluent and could help me with my homework, it was really tough for me. The school work was relentless, my classmates mocked me for having an accent. The strictness was tough to take. I was regularly hit by the teacher for getting sub-par grades. I was a well behaved child and a good student, but it was beyond tough to deal with school here. I was pretty outgoing and friendly, but I lost a lot of my joy during the next two years.

Please, please, don't do this to your kids!
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Re: Please give me your advice on my kids' education in Taiw

Postby Petrichor » 20 Oct 2012, 07:11

SandpaperTongue wrote:
nohobobo wrote:Based on my own experience, a kid coming in to grade 1 here with zero Chinese could probably pull it off. A kid coming into grade 2 who could speak Chinese already but couldn't read or write would have a very, very difficult year but could probably get caught up if they worked very hard. It might even be possible (but extremely difficult) for a very bright kid to come into grade 3 here from the U.S. if (1) they already spoke Chinese when they arrived, and (2) had also been cramming Chinese reading & writing for at least a year in anticipation. After that I just can't imagine how it would be possible. The education system moves too fast here. Even normal kids struggle at times.

I know the American Schools here are expensive, but I think there are other international schools that are a bit more reasonably-priced and still offer a good quality of education. I don't really know that much about them (especially the schools in Kaohsiung) but maybe some other Forumosans have a better idea.....


Just wanted to add, this was my personal experience exactly. My parents were both Chinese professors in Taiwan, but I grew up in the US. When I was 7, they brought me back here for school, and it was hell. Even though my parents are obviously super fluent and could help me with my homework, it was really tough for me. The school work was relentless, my classmates mocked me for having an accent. The strictness was tough to take. I was regularly hit by the teacher for getting sub-par grades. I was a well behaved child and a good student, but it was beyond tough to deal with school here. I was pretty outgoing and friendly, but I lost a lot of my joy during the next two years.

Please, please, don't do this to your kids!


I'm sorry for your experience. Taiwanese education has moved on somewhat since your time, I think. The teachers are no longer allowed to hit the children and many teachers are good, kind and compassionate. Speaking as the parent of a child who came here with zero Chinese just over a year ago, I'd like to say that our experience has been very different from yours and my son is happy and thriving at a Taiwanese public school.
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Re: Please give me your advice on my kids' education in Taiwan

Postby headhonchoII » 20 Oct 2012, 10:25

I see Petrichor they you put a lot of effort into helping your child in this situation. Glad to hear its working out for you. I fear that in many schools, and without parental help; it will not be an easy task in Taiwan. It also depends on if the child wants to become part of the local education system long term.
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Re: Please give me your advice on my kids' education in Taiwan

Postby Petrichor » 22 Oct 2012, 23:08

headhonchoII wrote:I see Petrichor they you put a lot of effort into helping your child in this situation. Glad to hear its working out for you. I fear that in many schools, and without parental help; it will not be an easy task in Taiwan. It also depends on if the child wants to become part of the local education system long term.


I'm not sure that I put any more than a reasonable and necessary effort into helping my son. I think if you move your school age children to another country you'd be naive to think you could just put them into any school and expect the school to completely deal with the child's adjustment. I know from speaking to Taiwanese friends who had a similar experience in reverse that their parents arranged private tuition to help them catch up. Isn't it normal to monitor and help your child in these circumstances?

It's a complex subject. I think many foreigners here have an extremely jaundiced view of Taiwanese education, and think it compares unfavourably with any Western education. The two systems I know most about (and I can safely say I have a close experience of both now) are those in UK and Taiwan. Of the two, at the moment my son is having a much better experience in the latter. The school he attended in the UK was mediocre and typical. The kids were fairly badly-behaved, many of their parents had low expectations of them (several letters came home asking parents to please do the tiny amount of reading homework that was set), some children still could not read aged 8, and so on.

Here, my son has learned a lot more about self-discipline, respect for others (and himself), loyalty and comradeship, hard work, responsibility and attention to detail than he ever learned in a British classroom. Of course, there are other differences in educational theory that I would say need addressing but education in the Taiwanese system does have a lot to offer in many, important, ways.

The assumption seems to be that in Taiwan they will be thrown in the deep end and ignored, whereas in the West schools would do all that was necessary to help them. That simply isn't the case. In the UK there's a little ESL provision in a few areas with extremely high immigrant populations, but that's it. Schools are not required to provide ESL support for children. At my son's UK school a little boy came there at aged 5 with no English and was completely left to it. And he did struggle to adjust for a few terms, despite the fact that he'd actually grown up in England. The idea that Taiwanese schooling is so much inferior to the West in this way is just wrong.

My experience has been that my son received far more support here than an equivalent child in the UK. When he first started school, the school and parents bent over backwards to support us. Unfortunately the first teacher he had wasn't so helpful, but his two subsequent teachers have been extremely kind. understanding and proactive. I will admit we have been lucky, but you make your own luck. I sought and received excellent advice on this forum from some very kind contributors, and when he moved schools I went to speak to his new teacher to find the lay of the land. Is that really anything other than common sense? Wouldn't/shouldn't parents moving from Taiwan to the West do the same? If they don't, they may be in for a rude awakening.

This is a general ramble, HH, and not particularly directed at you, but to address another part of your post about long term plans, well, you're right, we don't intend to keep our son in the Taiwanese system throughout his schooling. Our intention in coming here is that he learns about living in another culture and picks up another language, and those ambitions should be fulfilled by the end of Elementary school. If he were to stay in Taiwanese education it's possible that his late start might mean his Chinese literacy would still be weaker than his classmates when it comes to entrance exam time. That should be a consideration for parents intending to make the move.

Another consideration should be the personality of the child. In some ways my son is probably overly-sensitive, but in other ways he's extremely tough. As his mother I know him very well. I guessed he would rise to the challenge, and he has. Other parents know their children equally well and may well decide, quite rightly, that their child might not thrive in the same circumstances. That isn't saying anything about the Taiwanese versus the Western education system, though.
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This post was recommended by 2 Forumosans: headhonchoII (23 Oct 2012, 10:35), piwackit (23 Oct 2012, 00:11)
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