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COVER STORY: Developing the youth to be International-minded Bilingual Ambassadors
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Developing the youth to be International-minded Bilingual Ambassadors
Interview with Joseph Azmeh
Executive Head of School, Tianjin Campus
Beijing International Bilingual Academy

BT 201905 340X458培养学生成为
具有国际心的双语使者
采访Joseph Azmeh
海嘉国际双语学校天津校区外籍校长

2006年,全球化进程如火如荼,跨越中西方文化的双语人才成为国际竞争的中流砥柱。秉承“聚一帮好人,做一桩好事”的理想,海嘉国际双语学校应运而生,开始了实践双语教育的使命。植根中华文化,海嘉意喻“海纳百川,嘉言懿行”,表达了学校创办者对未来人才的殷切期盼。

十年精粹,海嘉积累了大量的优质资源,沉淀了足够的实践经验,为了让高品质、现代化的国际教育惠及更多地区和人口,海嘉国际双语学校进驻天津中新生态城,开设海嘉国际双语学校天津校区,并于2017年9月开学,天津海嘉与北京海嘉总校理念一致、管理统一、师资共享,并努力结合中新天津生态城的具体实际,为天津市及周边区域提供优质的双语教育。本期《津衛商務》有幸采访到了海嘉国际双语学校天津校区外籍校长Joseph Azmeh先生,让我们一起来了解一下他对于教育有哪些独到的见解。

Q:您在管理国际学校的过程中投入了20多年的经验。是什么持续激励着您?
A:谢谢你提出这个问题。我认为这是一个很好的问题。与年轻人一起工作提供了许多有益的机会。无论是教孩子阅读,骑自行车,还是解决数学问题或辩论问题,都会有一些非常精彩和充实的内容,来构建孩子的智力,社交和情感成长与发展。能够在我的个人生活和作为一名专业教育工作者之间建立联系,这一直是我的骄傲和快乐的源泉。

Q:您曾在许多国家担任校长。您能说说这些不同学校环境中的主要区?
A:出于某种原因,差异化的有关问题总是非常受欢迎,但根据我的经验,相似性总是超过差异,特别是因为它们与儿童和学习有关。所有学生(和家长)都会感谢善良和耐心的老师。所有学生都想在老师和同学那里感受到他们的爱和尊重。所有学生都希望有机会成功学习。

《津衛商務》非常欣赏海嘉国际双语学校的优良设施,优秀的外籍和本地教师以及管理团队。海嘉教育者的愿景是:做双语教育的典范——培养每一个孩子,在变幻的世界中,成为推广多元文化间互相理解、尊重及共融,具有国际心的双语使者。让孩子们在海嘉学校健康快乐地成长,并在未来成为对全球有责任感,对中国社会有贡献的人,是全体海嘉人共同的心愿。

BT 201905 cover 02

Gaining a strong reputation as the fastest-growing IB Word School campus offering unique international and bilingual education for Chinese and foreign students, the Beijing International Bilingual Academy (BIBA) has opened three campuses since its establishment in 2006. Its third campus, BIBA-Guiyang Campus in Guizhou, recently opened in August 2018. 

Tianjin Campus is the second campus of BIBA and it is a vibrant international boarding school, which prides on forming students to become internationally-minded bilingual ambassadors and champions of inter-cultural understanding, respect and integration in a dynamic global community. Business Tianjin is honoured to interview Joseph J. Azmeh, Executive Head of School, Tianjin Campus of BIBA.

You have devoted more than 20 years of your career in managing international schools. What continues to inspire you?

What inspires me today is the very thing which inspired me to become a professional educator almost 25 years ago and that is working with young people. Working with children offers so many rewarding opportunities.

Whether it’s teaching a child to read, or ride a bike, or solve a math problem or debate an issue, there’s something so wonderful and so fulfilling about participating in a child’s intellectual, social and emotional growth and development. I remember being in awe, as I helped my daughter learn to read her first words. There was something magical about seeing my daughter decode symbols (letters) that just a few weeks prior meant little to her, but would, over time, allow her to access some the world’s greatest ideas, stories, histories and would also allow her to eventually record her own personal stories, ideas and history. We are all called on at some point in our lives to serve as teachers, either as parents, or siblings or co-workers or in some other capacity. The ability to serve in a teaching capacity is hardwired in our humanity and being able to connect to that, both in my personal life and as a professional educator, has been the source of great pride and joy for me.
BT 201905 cover 01You have served as principal of schools in China, Nicaragua and Paraguay and you have served in teams that evaluated (accredited) schools in many other countries. What can you say is the main difference in terms of work environment across these different school settings?

For some reason, questions on what makes different groups different or different places different are always very popular and yet, in my experience, the similarities always outweigh the differences, especially as they relate to children and to learning.

Do all students (and parents) appreciate kind and patient teachers? Yes. Do all students want to feel love and respect at school by their teachers and classmates? Yes. Do all students want opportunities to be successful in their learning? Of course.

While human nature draws us to focus on differences, brain-based research on teaching and learning indicates that there are many factors relevant to the learning process that are common to all people. Investing in these fundamentally shared practices benefits all students and the process of educating our youth becomes a unifying force in the world.
BT 201905 cover 03Over the recent years, there’s a significant rise of Chinese families preferring international schools in China for their children. What are some reasons for this trend?

Private international schools have a level of freedom and autonomy that public schools typically do not enjoy.

This allows (some) international schools to deliver educational programs that are far more progressive and relevant to the learning needs of today’s youth. In addition, since private, international schools are typically governed by boards, their ability to commit to a continuous cycle of self-review and improvement, and their capacity to respond to the needs and expectations of their stakeholders is much greater than systems with multi-layered levels of bureaucratic governance.

Around the world, one finds public school systems struggling to reform. Their content-heavy programs can’t easily adjust to the different learning styles. Coursework is compartmentalized, which hinders teachers to take advantage of the natural connections across disciplines. Uncontrolled class sizes make learning environment dysfunctional and students rarely get personalized attention and/or recognition for their achievements. Overwhelming homework prevents students from pursuing other valuable learning opportunities.

Fortunately, many of these challenges are absent in high quality international schools, where learning is student-driven. Class sizes are small. Skill development is prioritized. Family and personal time are respected. Teachers are trained to work with students with different learning styles and all members of the school community have opportunities to give input on important school decisions.
BT 201905 cover 04What is your vision for the Beijing International Bilingual Academy - Tianjin campus in your first years? What will be your focus?

As I begin my service to this new and exciting campus, I am energized and optimistic in helping honour BIBA’s vision to serve as a model for developing internationally-minded bilingual ambassadors, who promote understanding, respect and peace.

From a practical standpoint, we will be focused on introducing our mission and vision to more families in the Tianjin community; launching our international university preparation programs, including IGCSE and A-Level courses; opening our dormitories and welcoming our first group of residential students; and completing work on a number of new learning facilities, including a new science lab, IT lab, Music and Arts classrooms, and a multipurpose auditorium.
BT 201905 cover 07How do you keep your school teachers in high spirits?

The first step has to be in the hiring process, as we aim to find the right fit, not just finding the most highly trained/experienced educators. BIBA-Tianjin actively seeks out the best educators, who inspire students and who are also passionate about living and working in China.

Next, teachers should be given the opportunity to contribute both at the classroom and institutional level. BIBA teachers are empowered to participate on important institutional decisions and are confident to do so, because we invest in above-standard training for them to grow as professionals. And finally, we allow them work-life balance and due recognition of the important contributions they make to the student learning process.
BT 201905 cover 05Why is BIBA committed to an educational program rooted in Chinese culture and heritage?

Throughout history, China pioneered innovations in the arts, education, science, and exploration. Today, modern Chinese are leading the world in renewable energy applications (look no further than BIBA-Tianjin’s home here in the Eco City), reaching never-before explored areas of outer space, and setting a pace of economic expansion and prosperity that is unmatched in human history.

BIBA’s educational philosophy aims to provide students with opportunities to deeply understand and appreciate China’s important role both past and present.
BT 201905 cover 06What kind of qualities and competencies do BIBA faculty members possess?

We are fortunate to have a teaching faculty comprised of outstanding international educators from around the world, each with his or her own story, educational foundation, and passion for learning. These capable international educators working in partnership with BIBA’s highly experienced and deeply-driven Chinese teachers create a diverse learning community for our students.

In terms of qualities and competencies, BIBA-Tianjin teachers are passionate about working with young people, experts at engaging students in the learning process, and able to design instruction, which prioritizes the teaching of relevant and transferable skills. BIBA-Tianjin teachers see the performance of authentic tasks as the true demonstration of learning and understand that different students have different learning strengths and styles. Finally, BIBA-Tianjin teachers understand that their role extends beyond that of a classroom practitioner. Our teachers are role models, counsellors, advisors and coaches, who recognize that learning happens daily and in many settings, and that the social and emotional learning that goes on in school is as important or more than the academic learning.
BT 201905 cover 08What are, in your opinion, the main factors to convince parents to enrol their children in BIBA?

Beijing International Bilingual Academy is committed to offering the highest quality bilingual education program deeply rooted in Chinese culture and heritage, while preparing students for success at top universities around the world. This vision has proven enormously successful for our Beijing campus with that school growing from less than 50 students in 2006 to more than 1,500 students today. For those of us working on behalf of the Tianjin campus, we fully expect to achieve the same level of success as our founding campus because of the commitment and passion our parents, teachers and students have for BIBA’s long-term vision of developing internationally-minded bilingual ambassadors, who promote understanding, respect, and cooperation between east and west.

BIBA-Tianjin offers its community members an educational program guided by the BIBA mission and vision. On a daily basis, our students are motivated to gain a deeper understanding and greater appreciation for Chinese language and culture. At the same time, BIBA-Tianjin students are receiving the highest quality English language instruction, as they develop the critical and transferable skills they will need to be successful. As BIBA-Tianjin is committed to a whole child teaching approach, our students also are provided with learning opportunities to develop their social and emotional skills as well.

Most importantly, BIBA-Tianjin follows a successful tradition of helping students pursue their goals and ambitions at top international universities around the world. BIBA-Tianjin families can expect outstanding support in this area, not only in a student’s final year, but throughout their middle school and high school years.
BT 201905 cover 04How is a bilingual learning model beneficial to student learning?

Over the past two decades, compelling research has shown that bilingualism shapes the brain in very positive ways. Bilingual children have a better understanding of how language works and this becomes evident on students’ reading, writing and overall communication abilities. Bilingual education has also been linked with improved attention and focus, since student’s language of instruction shifts at different times during the school day. On a more practical note, being bilingual (especially in Chinese and English) obviously opens up many opportunities across a wide range of areas, including academic study, professional opportunities, and social connections.
0196At BIBA-Tianjin, our commitment and success at developing bilingual ambassadors is our greatest strength and greatest source of pride.
How do you support EAL students (English as an additional language)?

As a bilingual school, BIBA-Tianjin is committed to ensuring that our students are receiving the highest quality instruction across all areas but especially as they relate to English language development. Perhaps the best way to answer the question is to share some of our institutional belief statements that underpin BIBA-Tianjin policies and practices as they relate to working with ELLs. Those beliefs include:

1. Language learners need a low stress environment where motivation and confidence-building can be nurtured and where academic risk-taking is encouraged.

2. Students learn language best in meaningful settings requiring authentic interactive communication with others at a language level just slightly above their current competency.

3. Language learners construct meaning by connecting new information to existing knowledge, and this existing knowledge can vary from student to student.

4. Students without first language literacy may require a different time frame and set of strategies to achieve/acquire competence when compared to students with first language literacy.

5. Language teachers must consider his/her students’ diverse background knowledge, learning preferences, and educational goals in order to successfully facilitate learning.

6. Curricula for ELLs must be age and grade level appropriate, and use math, science, social studies and language arts content as the vehicle for language learning.

7. To achieve the best outcomes, all teachers must create essential connections with parents and harness their enthusiasm, support and capabilities to strengthen learning.

01995Thanks Joseph. It was a pleasure talking to you and learning the noble spirit behind BIBA and your passion as an educator.
We laud BIBA and Tianjin Campus’ excellent facilities, fantastic team of foreign and local teachers & administrative staff and this great opportunity to enrol our kids in your unique international and bilingual learning environment.

LOGOBIBA
Beijing International Bilingual School
Tianjin Campus
海嘉国际双语学校天津校区

A: No. 226, Mingsheng Rd.,
Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City, Tianjin
天津市滨海新区中新生态城明盛路226号

T: +86 22 6713 9298 - 185 2609 1709BIBA

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