When it comes to bilingual schools and bilingual kindergartens in Hong Kong, there are options that cover a wide variety of multicultural languages and education programmes. There is everything from specialist preschools like the Italian International Kindergarten to bilingual all-through schools like Victoria Shanghai Academy (VSA school).
Hong Kong is truly a international location making it an easy place for your child to pick up a new language. From local Cantonese and Mandarin schools and beyond, there’s a variety of schools in Hong Kong making it easy for your child to pick up the language skills needed to make them multinational students of the world. Even if you’re looking for a way for your child to learn your native language here in Hong Kong, there are a variety bilingual, and sometimes even trilingual options, to look into for your child. This is our pick of some of the best bilingual schools in Hong Kong.
Bilinguals Schools In Hong Kong For Mandarin And English
Mandarin is the second most spoken language in the world, just after English so it no surprise that there is an increasing demand to learn it. Hong Kong isn’t short on bilingual options for those that want their kids to learn Mandarin as there is a wide variety of international schools and local schools that offer immersion in both Mandarin and English.
Chinese International School (CIS) – Bilingual kindergarten in Hong Kong right through to bilingual primary and secondary school
The Chinese International School is one of Hong Kong’s most desirable bilingual or dual language schools for Mandarin and English. CIS offers classes from Reception to Year 13. In Primary, the curriculum is taught equally in both languages, with a native speaking teacher in Mandarin and English present in the classroom. At the secondary level, students will be taking subjects in both languages with Chinese mainly being taught as a specialist subject area either as language acquisition or in Chinese literature. A dual-language history programme is also offered through years 7 to 9 as well as a two-week China Experience Programme and a one-year academic and residential programme at CIS’ Hangzhou campus in China in Year 10.
Singapore International School – Bilingual English and Putonghua preschool through to high school with an immersion travel programme
Established in 1991 and following the MOE Singapore curriculum, the Singapore International School offers a bilingual education to kids aged 3 to 12 years. In the preparatory and primary age groups all subjects, except for mathematics and the language classes, are conducted in both English and Chinese. Immersion travel programmes are also available for P6-aged kids in both Singapore and Taiwan. The dual language immersion stops around that age, however, as starting in secondary 3 and 4, the curriculum switches to the UK’s IGCSE and the IBDP in secondary 5 and 6.
Victoria Shanghai Academy (VSA school) – English and Mandarin bilingual school from kindergarten to high school
The Victoria Shanghai Academy (VSA school) has been in Hong Kong since 1965, expanding from a kindergarten to primary and a secondary school. The Victoria Shanghai Academy is a dual language school that places a strong emphasis on Chinese language and heritage with its curriculums based on the three IB Programmes. Children in primary will have classes co-taught by native teachers in both English and Mandarin. Starting from Year 6, classes are mainly taught in English except for Chinese Language and Literature and Chinese as Additional Language classes which all students must take. Additional French and Spanish classes are also available for students who excel in language. By Years 11 and 12, students will be taking two or three languages.
Independent School Foundation (ISF) – Bilingual kindergarten and preschool, bilingual secondary school, Bilingual IB programme
Independent School Foundation (ISF) was established in Hong Kong in 2000 as a registered charitable organisation to fill the demand for more diverse education options in Hong Kong. ISF comes from the belief that all teachers are language teachers and are equipped to teach the specific subject matter as well as language. ISF follows the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum with a focus on bilingual mastery in both English and Mandarin for all of its students. From Foundation to Grade 2, classes are conducted at 70% Putonghua and 30% English and each year this ratio changes ending with 20% Mandarin and 80% English by Grades 11 and 12. ISF also has a bilingual preschool for kids from 2 years 8 months to 5 years. The curriculum in the preschool is drawn from the International Early Years curriculum (IEYC) and that of ISF’s Foundation Curriculum. The language of instruction is predominantly Putonghua.
Po Leung Kuk Choi Kau Yau School (PLKCKY) – Natural bilingual co-teaching environment during the primary school years
With a mission to produce students who are an asset to both Hong Kong and the world, PLKCKY is one of the few independent and not-for-profit schools offering a 12-year bilingual education within the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. PLKCKY claims to have 60% Western teachers and 40% Chinese teachers, offering a natural bilingual co-teaching environment during the primary school years (read more about that here). Students also study themes in both languages and have opportunities for field trips and overseas trips as well.
Kingston International School (KIS) – Bilingual playgroup and primary school
KIS’ bilingual teaching (more about that here) starts as early as playgroup and continues toward Primary 6. Following the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP), students are co-taught by native Chinese and native English speakers in each class, ensuring that students are immersed in both languages daily. KIS boasts small classroom sizes with options for kids to explore the arts (music, drama, performance, design) well as athletics as well as unique travel and learning opportunities.
Kingston International Kindergarten, 12-14 Cumberland Road, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2337 9049
Kingston International School – Lower Primary, 113 Waterloo Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, 2337 9031
Yew Chung International School (YCIS) – Bilingual all-through school in Hong Kong
Offering a multicultural and bilingual education experience, Yew Ching International School (YCIS) offers education for kids aged six months to 18 years of age. YCIS has a Western and Chinese co-principal for each of its campuses that offers bilingual teaching for IGCSEs and IBDP. Its Early Year classes are co-taught by two native speaking teachers in each language and the Primary stages, students have at least one hour of language study every day. YCIS’ secondary programme follows the National Curriculum for England with an emphasis on the Chinese language.
Yew Chung International School Early Childhood Education, 3 Somerset Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, 2338 0264
Yew Chung International School Primary Section, 2 Kent Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, 2337 2787
Stamford American School Hong Kong – Bilingual programme from Pre-primary up to Grade 4
Graduates of this school will receive an American diploma and the option of the IB diploma. Stamford offers unique options in terms of language, offering both a bilingual programme in Mandarin and English (60% English) or daily language programmes in Mandarin or Spanish. While Stamford offers schooling for kids aged 5 to 18 years, its bilingual programme is offered for Pre-primary up to Grade 4. When it comes to the daily language programme, both Mandarin and Spanish have been chosen because of how widely they are spoken worldwide. These two languages are offered as an integral part of the daily core curriculum from age five. In high school, students can also choose to study a dual language IB diploma.
International Montessori School Hong Kong, IMS – Bilingual kindergarten within Montessori framework
IMS offers a unique blend of the Montessori method with bilingual education. This dual-language school has integrated Chinese culture and language throughout every aspect with Chinese Montessori materials so that children can learn with context and purpose, and experience a “living language”. Every classroom, from Foundation to Upper Elementary, is guided by two teachers – one a Montessori trained teacher who addresses the children in English while the other is a native Mandarin speaker (and often Montessori trained as well). In the early years, the language programme follows the native language experience with rhymes, philosophical stories and songs. Upon entry into the Casa dei Bambini community (3 to 6 years), the younger kids get guided by the older and more experienced classmates. This peer-to-peer learning is an integral part of Montessori education and allows children to learn a language naturally.
Bilinguals Schools In Hong Kong For Cantonese And English
The medium for most public schools in Hong Kong is Cantonese. If your child speaks English at home and you want your child to learn Cantonese, enrolling them in a public school is one way to help them become bilingual. Two public schools, in particular, have catered their programmes specifically for foreigners and expats who want their children to be proficient in both languages and are currently the only government-run schools offering a Chinese-English curriculum that balances and immerses both languages.
Lee Siu Yam Memorial Primary School – Mix of bilingual lessons in English and Cantonese
Noticing a large increase in non-Cantonese families entering the school looking to immerse their child in the local dialect, Lee Siu Yam Memorial Primary School adapted its curriculum to meet this need. The core curriculum at Lee Siu Yam is similar to other public schools in Hong Kong but offered in two different streams. One in which all subjects are taught in Chinese and the other stream, that is Chinese-English, has core subjects like math and computer studies taught in English while the remaining subjects are taught in Cantonese. Extra language assistance is offered to students who don’t come from Cantonese-speaking homes that are project-based, such as drama, sports, debate, and field trips. Lee Siu Yam’s setup ensures that kids are given ample opportunities to interact in Cantonese in all its contexts in both a formal and informal setting.
HKTA Yuen Yuen Institute No 3 Secondary School – Bilingual education taught in English, Mandarin and Cantonese
Finding itself in a similar situation as Lee Siu Yam with demand from non-Cantonese families, HKTA also adapted its curriculum. Many students from Lee Siu Yam go on to HKTA for its continuation of this adapted language learning curriculum. AT HKTA, math, liberal studies, integrated science and computer science are taught in English, with the exception of Chinese word processing which is taught to non-Cantonese students. HKTA also decided to substitute its Chinese history class for a “living Chinese” class that is taught in Mandarin. The remainder of the subjects, such as music, religious education, PE etc. are taught in both English and Cantonese. Further, non-Cantonese speaking students are placed in a peer-reading scheme with native Chinese students in either Cantonese or Mandarin. The programme also works to benefit Chinese students looking to improve their English as well as they are given a chance to interact with a native English speaker.
Bilinguals Schools In Hong Kong For Other Languages
If your native language is something other than English, Mandarin or Cantonese and you’re hoping to have your child educated in it, chances are you’re in luck. Hong Kong is such a multicultural city that there are a variety of international schools offering language immersion in other European languages as well as in English and or Mandarin.
French International School of Hong Kong (FIS) – French and English bilingual school in Hong Kong
Opened in 1963, FIS continues to be Hong Kong’s only French school, it was also Hong Kong’s first international school to offer Mandarin classes starting in 1973. FIS now has four campuses in Hong Kong offering schooling from Early Years kids to Secondary, in both the International stream and the French stream. As a partner institution of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE), the French stream follows the French National Education programmes leading to the National Diploma of the Brevet (DNB) and the French Baccalaureate. For the international stream, students follow a programme based on the English national curriculum, ending with the IB diploma at the end of secondary school. Education is provided in English, and learning French is compulsory.
German Swiss International School (GSIS) – German International Stream as well as an English International Stream
The German Swiss International School (GSIS) offers two curriculums, the German International Stream as well as an English International Stream. The German stream offers kindergarten, primary and secondary education with the opportunity to graduate with German International Abitur (GIA). Within the German stream, most of its classes are instructed by native German teachers with the bilingual classes having a native speaker for both languages. Children will also have an opportunity to take Mandarin lessons as well. In general, kids (and parents) do not need to know how to speak German to enter the German stream and are provided resources they’ll need to learn German and become bilingual giving them opportunities in Hong Kong as well as in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
German Swiss International School Kindergarten and Lower Primary Campus, 162 Pok Fu Lam Road, Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong, 2849 6217
Spanish Primary School (SPIS) – Trilingual education in English, Spanish and Mandarin, with immersive language learning
Spanish Primary School (SPIS) offers not just bilingual education, it offers trilingual education in English, Spanish and Mandarin, covering the top three most spoken languages in the world. With an emphasis on multilingualism, SPIS’ core subjects are English, Spanish, Chinese, Math, and Science. While following the British National Curriculum, Spanish, English, and Chinese are mandatory for years 1 to 6, embracing what many European cultures do in creating a trilingual environment. SPIS’ teaching method is immersive, meaning the languages are not taught in and of themselves but are used in teaching other foundation subjects.
Italian International Nursery & Kindergarten (IIKG) – Trilingual education in Italian, English and Chinese
Italian International Nursery And Kindergarten (IIKG) is the first Italian school in Hong Kong. After founding an accredited school in Beijing, IIKG opened here in cooperation with Reggio Children, the well-known and reputable Italian educational institution. IIKG offers two streams (both with whole and half-day options) – Italian-English with the addition of Chinese language and culture, as well as a Chinese-English stream with additional of Italian language and culture.
Korean International School (KIS) – Learn Korean in Hong Kong at this bilingual Korean and English school
Korean International School (KIS) originated back in 1988 to meet the needs of the growing Korean community in Hong Kong. Since then the KIS has grown and now offers an English International stream as well as a bilingual Korean International stream. The Korean stream is based on the Korean curriculum and is fully supported and recognised by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and all of KIS’ teachers are registered and certified teachers in Korea. Within the Korean stream, classes are instructed on a split 50/50 in English and Korean, with specialist classes in Mandarin also available.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2020 by Danielle Roberts and updated in July 2022 by Alex Purcell Garcia.