Simplified or Traditional Chinese characters? This is a question we get asked regularly during our open houses and tours. Within the school we struggled with this question, and that struggle can be seen on our website where we used to have some words written in traditional characters while some words are simplified. Our students are from many backgrounds, from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, United States, etc… Our teachers are also from diverse backgrounds. We have a large selection of story books in Chinese but the collection contains a mix of both simplified and traditional characters.
Ultimately, we decided that we will teach simplified Chinese characters. The main reason for this is when we looked at public schools that offer Chinese as an option for their foreign language requirement, the majority of these teach simplified Chinese. For example, Ridge High School in Basking Ridge is planning to teach Mandarin in simplified Chinese. Also Chinese taught in colleges tend to be simplified as well.
For the parents that are concerned about learning traditional written Chinese, let’s not forget our goal is to build a foundation of speaking and learning Chinese for our kids, and that can be accomplished whether it is in simplified or traditional characters. If it is any consolation, at the age of our students (2.5 to 6), we expect a lot of the characters we teach would be the same in both simplified and traditional Chinese.