Chinese in ESF Secondary Schools

Chinese is a core subject in all ESF secondary schools. Every student will have the opportunity to learn and excel in Chinese regardless of their nationality, linguistic background or career interests.

West Island School joyful learningA three-pathway programme

A three-pathway programme is in place to cater for students with varying levels of Chinese proficiency or language background: Chinese as an Additional Language, Chinese as a Second Language, and Chinese at Near Native Level. Students will be assigned to the suitable International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) Chinese language class from Year 7, and the IGCSE Chinese language class for Years 10 and 11 (except the two IB all-through schools Renaissance College and Discovery College).

Chinese as an Additional Language (CAL)

CAL is for those who add Chinese as a new language to their existing language profile. Most CAL students will follow the MYP Chinese Language Acquisition Phase 1-3 programme, and take the IGCSE Chinese as a Foreign Language examination in Year 11. For IB Diploma, typical CAL students will study Chinese Language B at Standard Level, whereas others may start ab initio (beginners’) courses of different languages. Ab initio Chinese is also offered at some schools to cater for new comers or change of interest.

Chinese as a Second Language (CSL)

CSL caters for students who are capable of everyday communication in Chinese and who are more likely to continue to use it after secondary school. Home environment encourages language use but level of competency may vary. CSL students usually study Chinese at MYP Language Acquisition at Phase 3-5 level, and sit the IGCSE Chinese as a Second Language examination in Year 11. For IB Diploma, most CSL students will be able to study Chinese B at Higher Level, and some may study at the Chinese B Standard Level.

Chinese at Near Native Level (CNN)

CNN is designed for those who use Chinese extensively both in and out of school to communicate, pursue knowledge and enjoy the richness of Chinese literature. Most CNN students will follow the MYP Chinese Language Acquisition Phase 5-6 or MYP Chinese Language and Literature curriculum, and will aim to take the IGCSE First Language Chinese examination. They are most likely to continue to study Chinese Language A (Literature or Language and Literature course) for the IB Diploma, while some may find Chinese B Higher Level more appropriate for them.

For more information of IB MYP and DP language programme, please visit:

Chinese and English bilingual diploma

Students who successfully complete two languages selected from the IB Diploma course studies in language and literature will receive a bilingual diploma. In ESF schools, there is an increasing number of students pursuing a Chinese and English bilingual diploma, demonstrating students’ proficiency in Chinese and English and the success of the ESF Chinese programme.

Chinese benchmark tests

All ESF primary students sit the ESF Year 6-7 Transitional Chinese Assessment Tests towards the end of Year 6. Each student is recommended a pathway group in secondary schools according to the test results and their teachers’ advice. ESF Chinese curriculum aims to maximise students’ learning potential. Students are encouraged to take a Chinese language course that is meaningful and appropriately challenging. Throughout secondary years, students are assessed from time to time and may change their grouping according to their progress. Students take two Chinese benchmark tests in Years 9 and 11 to measure the level of achievement for students. The Year 11 test also provides information for placement in the suitable course for the IB Diploma.

Chinese cultural activities

Besides classroom learning, ESF schools endeavour to provide quality and interesting learning experiences to enrich the Chinese curriculum, so that students will also gain an in-depth understanding on Chinese culture. Chinese cultural celebrations, Chinese speech festivals and many other activities are organised during the year.