Beijing Chinese School was founded in October 1997 by Wendy Liang, the niece of world-renounced literary theorist and educator Liang Shiqiu. In hopes of using her family legacy to further facilitate intercultural communication and educational exchange between China and the United States, Liang established Beijing Chinese School, now with a history of almost 20 years, as a state-registered non-profit educational institution in New York.
The mission of Beijing Chinese School is to train Chinese students born in the United States to become fully bilingual. The school seeks to provide students with an advantage when applying to top-tier US colleges and future job opportunities in order to build a foundation for US-China cultural exchange. It is the hope that, in the future, students will facilitate communication between the two countries through their study of Chinese language, history, geography and culture.
During its 20-year history, the school has undergone its foundational establishment from 1997 - 2002, rapid development and growth from 2003 - 2012, and a refocus on education from 2012 - 2017. Since 1997, the school has continued to evolve and improve, as seen by developments in the school’s teaching curriculum, student enrollment, and local recognition. Currently, Beijing Chinese School operates weekend Chinese and art classes in its three branches for about 100 students.
Beijing Chinese School’s main program has always been weekend Chinese programs. The curricular textbook, Zhongwen, is a set of integrative Chinese language textbooks. We operate on a trimester system that allows for a comparatively intensive class schedule, and currently offer classes for different levels of the Zhongwen textbook, a preschool class, middle school class, and one-on-one tutoring sessions to meet the individual needs of students.Our teachers are experienced, responsible and passionate, and our curriculum emphasizes increasing students’ proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing Chinese. Every March and November, our students participate in the SATII Chinese and HSK tests, with the school admitting the most students with the highest scores on the HSK test. Our students are accomplished and have pursued exciting opportunities: studying in China sponsored by the Chinese government, matriculating at Harvard and Yale due to their excellency in Chinese, and qualifying to be bilingual volunteers in the Beijing Olympics.
In the past five years, we have refocused our resources on our greatest strengths: educating bilingual students, and developing students’ writing skills in particular. Beginning in 2012, many Chinese schools have emerged in the New York area, resulting in lower demand for some of our extracurricular programs. In response to this, we have revamped our educational mission, and our school has been awarded a number of distinctions in tri-state Chinese writing competitions.
Students graduate from the elementary level of Beijing Chinese School after finishing all twelve textbooks of Zhongwen, and we have four strict criteria for graduation: 1) completion of all twelve books of Zhongwen and all level tests; 2) score of over 700 in a SATII Chinese mock test; 3) score of over 240 in the HSK test, and 4) publication of at least five articles in Chinese magazines and/or newspapers, primarily the World Journal and China Press.
Our current weekend art program includes classes in painting, dancing, Chinese calligraphy, musical instruments and martial arts. All classes are taught entirely in Chinese and serve as an important supplement to students’ Chinese language education, allowing participants to learn about culture and art while practicing their listening and speaking skills. Our past program also included weekday after-school programs, weekend English and math programs, a summer bilingual school and a summer camp in China as extensions of our regular language curriculum.
Beijing Chinese School also offers a community service program that aims to develop students’ leadership skills and volunteer experience. Program members serve as assistants to the principal and are responsible for assignments such as translating documents and materials, assisting in school management, aiding teachers, and increasing the school’s publicity. All volunteers become officially certified at the end of one semester, and outstanding volunteers can take certain classes for free, or even receive a free trip to China. The school also hosts an art troupe made up of students and faculty members that participate in community showcases. The work of the troupe is consistently well received and focuses on community service and engagement.
The school has been working to further facilitate student language and cultural interaction between the United States and China in a number of ways. Current projects include international school exchange programs, teacher exchange and training programs, and building dialogue through artistic and cultural exchange.