Keystone Magazine - Page 17

B ritish intellectual and writer, Aldous Huxley, said, “Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.” This is exactly how Mary Jew has lived her life – transforming her life experience positively. Migrating to the U.S. as a young girl was not easy for Mary with no bilingual immersion or any other form of language support. But that very same experience is her motivation for being an expert in the field of bilingual immersion. Since bilingual immersion is one of the keystones of the school, Mary makes an ideal Head of Primary School. She will ensure that students have a strong foundation in both Chinese and English from their primary years. Mary elaborates here on some of the nuances of bilingual immersion and its key elements as applicable to Keystone. Q: Before joining the Keystone Team, you were Vice Principal of the primary school and Director of the Bilingual Immersion Program at the ISF Academy in Hong Kong. You have also taught language, worked for the public school districts and county offices of education and developed and managed numerous language immersion programs. What inspired you to dedicate your career to working in bilingual education? What made you decide to come to Beijing to join the Keystone team? A: When I migrated to the U.S., there wasn’t bilingual education. I did not have English as a second language (ESL) programs for support. It was sink or swim! It was difficult learning English or anything for that matter. I basically sat in the classroom all day without understanding anything. So early on I was inspired to go into education because many new immigrants, like me, did not have quality education due to the language difference. When I went into education, I was with a government fellowship program, which required teachers to work with lowincome, underachieving students. So the whole movement of bilingual education in the U.S., during my career, has been pushing for equity and quality education for all students. When I was approached with the concept of starting a brand new immersion program in China, especially in Beijing, I immediately became interested because I know that it does not exist. Out of all of the schools that I have visited previously in China, I have not seen a true bilingual model, especially for local students. I was attracted by the opportunity to use my experiences in starting many immersion, and startup programs, to build a model here in Beijing. I imagine that if we are successful in building our Bilingual Immersion Program then schools will emulate our model. From my many years of experience in education, I truly believe that the best way for students to learn is within a bilingual setting. Q: We know that there are many different bilingual language program models. Can you elaborate on the differences and similarities between Keystone’s Bilingual Immersion Program and these other models? A: Within bilingual education there are many models. There is the transitional model for non-native speakers learning English, which is the minority language in our case, where the students are taug [