Digitalisation, propelled by technology advances in the Internet, big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, is having a profound impact on education reform.  There are great opportunities but also immense challenges for early childhood Chinese language educators wanting to leverage on and integrate new digital technologies into their work. Close to 400 early childhood (EC) educators attended the 6th International Early Childhood Chinese Conference 2023 to gain new insights into how best to harness digital technology for both work and professional development.

KLCII Early Childhood Chinese Conference held at Lifelong Learning Institute

Jointly organised by KLC International Institute (KLCII) and Chinese Testing International Beijing (汉考国际(北京)), the event themed “International Early Childhood Development in the Digital Era” was held on 11 March 2023 at the Lifelong Learning Institute (Singapore). Chinese Testing International (汉考国际(北京)) is a professional international Chinese language education and assessment service organisation which serves more than 30 million Chinese language learners worldwide.

The hybrid event saw close to 400 participants from 50 preschool brands from South-east Asia and China attending the event.

In his welcome address, KLCII”s CEO and Principal, Mr Chua Ying Hwee, highlighted the importance of reimagination, continual adoption of new technologies and upskilling to stay relevant in the rapidly changing education environment. He shared how KLCII had in 2019 taken major steps to digitalise operations and automate processes to successfully transform its business. When the Covid-19 crisis struck in 2020, the Institute was able to move quickly and fully convert all physical classes to be conducted online. This made it possible for teachers and students to continue with their lessons conveniently and safely, ensuring the Institute’s normal operations with minimal disruption.

KLCII CEO/Principal Mr Chua Ying Hwee giving the opening address on stage

Through the pandemic, KLCII has not only maintained its edge in preschool educator training, it has also expanded into providing business transformation consultancy services and training courses.

He said the conference was designed to expose early childhood educators to new ways of thinking and help everyone keep pace with changes in the world, bringing new ideas to improve Chinese language teaching in preschools.

Four keynote speakers and eight workshop presenters, comprising international EC experts and practitioners, were featured in the day-long conference. They offered preschool Chinese language educators fresh insights on how they could embrace digital technologies for their professional growth by integrating them into their pedagogical practice.

The keynote speakers included:

1.Mr Liang Chun Xiao, Former Senior Researcher (Vice President) of Alibaba Group and Director of Ali Research Center, and Executive Director of E-Commerce Committee of China Information Economics Association

Mr Liang shared the transformative impact of the digital age on education and the importance of foresight in shaping its future. It is necessary for educators to leverage new technologies, foster imagination and creativity, and adopt a long-term vision to ensure that education remains relevant and effective in a changing society. Educators too must adapt to these changes and develop new skills and knowledge to stay relevant.

2. Professor Yu Yong Ping, doctoral supervisor at the School of Education Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, and Chairman of the China Preschool Education Research Association

At the event, Professor Yu emphasized the importance of integrating local culture and social environment into the kindergarten curriculum. This approach enhances children’s learning and development, promotes cultural preservation and instils a sense of pride in their heritage. Educators must have broad vision, the ability to innovate, and a deep understanding of the local context to develop curriculum that will meet the needs of young children and create an engaging learning environment.

3. Lee Pei Ze, Chairman and General Manager of Hankao International Education Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd,

In Dr. Li’s speech, he addressed the alignment between Chinese Language education and Early Childhood education, as well as the opportunities and challenges that digitalisation brings to both fields. The digital age offers numerous opportunities, including access to a wide range of educational resources, personalized learning experiences, and the ability to connect and collaborate with learners and educators from around the world. The digital age also offers new opportunities to improve teaching and learning methods, broaden education horizons, and foster global awareness and understanding.

4. Mdm Xiong Hua Li, Director of the English-Chinese Bilingual Programme at the Canadian International School in Singapore

Mdm Xiong’s presentation highlighted the difficulties faced in offering Chinese Language courses in international schools due to students’ coming from diverse language backgrounds and the dominance of the English Language. Despite challenges, she shared on how Canadian International Schools have met these challenges through targeted curriculum development, textbook selection, and effective teacher management strategies.

The eight workshops were conducted by experts from China, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. Out of the 8 workshops, 4 were conducted online and 4 on-site. The topics covered included:

Physical workshops

  • Impact of Digital Platforms on International Preschool Chinese Language Teaching
  • The Use of Digital Technology in Inclusive Education Programme (using UDL) for Children
  • The Impact of Technology on International School Chinese Language Learning
  • Application of Project-based Learning (PBL) in the Chinese Classroom

Clockwise from top left: Ms Tian Qian, Chinese Language teacher at Canadian International School; Mr James Ling, Head Chinese Language Learning; Dr Feng Yu Shan, Head of Mother Tongue Department of United World College of South East Asia; Mr Wang Jian Qiang, IB and IGCSE teacher of Hwa Chong International School

Online workshops

  • Importance of Bilingual Learning in a Multicultural Society
  • Preschool Industry Transformation Opportunities through Big Data
  • The Influence of Modern Technology on Preschool Chinese Learning in Thailand
  • International Skills Standards for Chinese Preschool Language Teaching

Clockwise from left: Ms Zhang Li Hua, Chinese Language Teacher of Brookline High School, Massachusetts, USA; Mr Zhang Hua, Founder of the Childcare Circle Platform; Ms Zhu Jun Ru, Chinese Language Teacher of International School in Thailand; Ms Yu Yan, Director of Curriculum and Pedagogy of Chinese Testing International Co., Ltd., Peking, China; Ms Hou Jing, Assistant Head, KLCII Early Childhood Chinese Programmes; Mr Desmond Seah, VP Business Development, KLC International Institute