Languages @ ISS
At ISS we view literacy and language acquisition as an integrated and developmental process. Our focus is not on learning language for its own sake, but on promoting and supporting the effective use of language as a communication tool across all areas of the curriculum, and in life.
“My child has had fantastic language teachers. They have really brought the language (and cultures) to life.” ISS Family Survey 2015
In-line with our beliefs about language learning, we aim that students will:
- develop a love and appreciation of the richness of all languages and literacies
- develop the language skills and structures to communicate effectively
- value, maintain and use their languages, including their mother-tongue
- have and use language for thought, creativity, reflection, learning and self-expression
- comprehend more clearly aspects of their own culture and be empathetic to those of others
- feel safe, within a positive environment, to experiment with, and to reflect on, their use of language
Languages are at the heart of international education! In the Middle Years, ISS offers German, French, Spanish and English as additional languages (Language B.) Students are placed into classes according to their phase of language development. Those who are fluent in English, study German and a choice of French or Spanish. The classes emphasize cultural understanding, oral communication, and comprehension of visual and written texts as well as written communication. Students who reach a high proficiency can continue to study the language as Language A.
In the Middle Years, ISS offers English and German as first languages (Language A). Language A equips students with linguistic, analytical and communicative skills. Students study literary, non-literary and visual texts, develop their skills for creative and expository writing and present their viewpoints.
In the Diploma Program, students study at least two languages, either one Language A and one Language B (a choice of German, French, Spanish or English) or two Languages A.
The purpose of the Degerloch Campus EAL program is to enable curriculum access and to support children who do not have English as a Language A to succeed in the mainstream classroom program. EAL specialists teach the language skills that English learners need to become proficient in English to access the ISS curriculum. EAL supports the child in developing linguistic communicative academic competence and generates a positive attitude and awareness of international-mindedness. EAL classes provide opportunities for students to adjust to the new environment and develop the social skills needed for an easy transition into the mainstream.
In grades EY- 5 the EAL program provides two options of instruction. Pull-out EAL (beginners) and in-class support (intermediates). Students are supported in small groups.
In grades 6-10, English is taught through the subjects in collaboration with the mainstream staff. This leads students to develop native-like levels of proficiency in English, and addresses the development of the cognitive, expressive and cultural skills of the student.
The purpose of the Mother Tongue Support Program is to support as many students as possible in maintaining, developing, and using their mother tongue to access the ISS curriculum. While clearly the exposure cannot match what the students would be having in their own national system, the school acknowledges the importance of mother-tongue maintenance and aims to support the students in developing their home language skills as much as possible.
The ISS Sindelfingen Campus offers a dual language (English/German) learning environment. This dual-language teaching approach provides additional language learning opportunities for all students as well as providing mother-tongue teaching of the core concepts and skills (in numeracy, reading and writing for example) with English and German teachers working as a team in the classroom.
Increased pedagogical awareness of the importance of valuing the mother-tongue to support conceptual development as well as language acquisition, is the basis of our approach. Our innovative, dual language model provides additional language learning opportunities for all students as well as providing mother-tongue teaching of the core concepts to English and German speakers.
“... We aim for full proficiency in 2 languages, understanding and appreciation of the cultures associated with these languages and high levels of achievement in all core academic domains.“ Cloud et.al. 2000
How does this model facilitate additional language learning in the Primary School? (EY to Gr 5)
The definition of our dual language model encompasses the following critical components:
- Whenever possible, the child’s conceptual development takes place in their mother tongue (if this is English or German).
- In the classroom their additional language is supported through team-teaching in an authentic language-learning context.
- The program essentially involves the integration of main and second language learners for instruction in and through two languages. The mother tongue (if this is English or German) is used for a significant portion of the students’ instructional day.
- The program involves periods of instruction during which only one language is used.
- The students are integrated for most content instruction, with some small-group, mini lessons.
- Students who speak neither English nor German choose a main language and are encouraged to use their mother tongue whenever relevant to help their cognitive development. (Inter-lingual classrooms. Eithne Gallagher)
How is this done in the Primary School?
Rather than withdrawing small groups of children in ability-based groups, our 1st to 5th grade students are team-taught by the class teacher in English, with a German team teacher for up to 10 hours each week. Specialist subjects (Art, PE, Music and Drama) may be taught in either English or German. Early Years are taught by an English-speaking class teacher and German-speaking Learning Assistant. Drama and Music are taught in English, Physical Education and Art in German.
The grade level class teachers and German support teachers plan intensively together, to determine the learning needs of the spectrum of language learners, from beginners through to mother tongue learners in each language. An 8-phase additional language-learning continuum sets out the learning journey for each child, helping to assess, monitor and record student progress and plan goals for their next stage of language-learning development. Research suggests that it takes 5 to 8 years to become truly bilingual and bi-literate, so the support of concept-acquisition in the mother tongue or main language is very important, to avoid conceptual gaps.
Where possible, the learning of new concepts in maths and language are supported in the mother tongue. Whilst working in their additional language is also encouraged, we usually teach the child to read, write and calculate in their mother tongue.
Once competent in these skills in their mother tongue, we encourage the children to apply them in their additional language too. The valuable role that the children play in supporting each other’s learning, in addition to teacher instruction of additional language, should not be underestimated. A mother-tongue or advanced language learner may be teamed up with a beginner or less experienced additional language learner, to write a story, report or science observation in their additional language for example. Learning rhymes and songs, going through the calendar each day and being provided with plenty of repetition and visual clues in the classroom, all help to support the children’s additional language learning.
How does the model facilitate additional language learning in the Middle School?
The Middle school students are supported in English and German lessons (MYP Language and Literature and Language Acquisition) by language teachers who sometimes work with level-ability groups, sometimes with the whole class, team teaching and team learning. The focus on acquiring language continues, with increased support in understanding the structure and grammar of the main language and the additional language. There is an expectation that students begin to learn in some subjects exclusively in English, in preparation for the path towards the International Baccalaureate Diploma or ISS Diploma programmes that most students will aim for in the 11th grade. Nevertheless, some dual language support is still offered in Maths and inter-disciplinary projects and project presentations (see the ISS Sindelfingen magazines) support dual language contributions.