Different levels and types of additional English language support are available at the ISH. The main aim of these classes is to help the students develop language skills needed for their other subjects. Students are also encouraged to focus on grammar and vocabulary development as well as structural aspects of writing and speaking.
There are two main programmes provided by EAL (English as an Additional Language) teachers within the EAL department.
The English Language Acquisition students in phases 1-3 in Years 7 – 9 receive 3 additional English support lessons per week. These lessons focus on academic language and the aim is to develop language skills needed for the other subjects, especially humanities and science. Additional support may be tailor-made to meet students' needs that cannot be covered within the 3 ALP lessons, in particular for students new to English and the ISH.
Additional (academic) language support is also provided for students in Years 10 – 13, where ALP is not offered, and is open to students across the English Language & Literature – English Language Acquisition divide. Year 10 & 11 students in phases 2-3 of the English Language Acquisition course have 2 EAL lessons a week; other students needing additional language support (e.g. English Language Acquisition students in phase 4, English Language & Literature students, students transitioning from the Language Acquisition course to the Language & Literature course, English B DP students) may be recommended by subject teachers or mentors.
- MYP EAL students in phases 1-3 : All have the right to 25% additional time in all assignments. They are also allowed to use a simple translation dictionary.
- New MYP EAL students : Modified Service and Action (S&A) expectations. New EAL students need to complete 1 long term activity and 1 short term activity in their first year at the school.
Children are not sponges – they don’t just soak up new languages effortlessly. It may seem that this is the case because of the naturalistic way in which they acquire a new language (no vocabulary lists and verb conjugations!) but it’s actually a lot of work for a school-aged child to not only learn a new language, but learn school content at the same time.
The more support they get, the more progress they will make. Support from the school, but also at home. Parents need to ensure their understanding of school content while their children are learning the new language.
They need support for a long time. Conversational language skills (BICS) take 1-2 years to master (to the same level as a native-speaker child) but academic language proficiency (CALP) takes from 3-7 years to fully develop. That means that for up to seven years EAL students will not be processing content learning the same way as a fluent speaker. They will need support to ensure the understanding of conceptual knowledge, especially.
The stronger their home language is, the better they will learn the school language. Research has proven this relationship clearly; children who are strong users of their own language (their dominant language) and continue to grow in this language, especially through literacy, are better able to learn a new language at school, and ultimately do better academically than peers who stop using their own language. Parents, don’t stop speaking your own language to your children – it will do more harm than good!
Be empathetic. Think for a moment about what it would be like to go to work tomorrow in a completely new language – what feelings would you have? All of those feelings; insecurities, fears of failing, nervousness - your children will likely be experiencing all of these, at different levels, depending upon their ages. But it will not always be smooth, they will struggle and they won’t perform in the same ways you might expect them to (see point 3) for quite some time. They need your support, your understanding, and for you to work with their school and teachers to bridge the gaps in their learning.