Language plays an essential role in all learning areas.
Language is a medium of inquiry and central to each student’s intellectual, social, and emotional development.
In a school environment where different languages could be spoken, we believe that the use of a common language is essential to ensure inclusion for all and to enhance understanding of the many cultures represented.
Language of Instruction
Our goal at EAR is to produce positive, contributing and academically capable students with ongoing language development. In relation to language acquisition, we recognize these basic principles:
- Language has purpose and function and is acquired through meaningful use and interaction.
- Language and culture are interrelated; to learn a language is to learn a culture.
- Language varies and changes according to the person, situation, purpose, and needs of language users.
- Mother-tongue language proficiency contributes to social and academic second language acquisition.
Language development and use is a complex process, with shared responsibility among school faculty, students, and parents. We understand that the mother tongue of a child serves as the foundation on which English proficiency is built. We are committed to enabling students to continue to increase literacy and proficiency in their mother-tongue language.
English is used as students’ primary means of academic communication in English classrooms and encouraged in social communication at school and during school events. In Brazilian Studies Program classes, Portuguese is used as students’ primary means of academic communication, and in language classes, the language of instruction is determined by the language course (French or Spanish). As English is the primary language of instruction at EAR, we provide extensive opportunities for students’ meaningful social and academic interaction in English.
Language of Inclusion
There are students from different countries who attend our school. We promote the opportunity to code-switch from one language to another, according to the situation or need. Outside of the buildings and in recreational areas, students are expected to model inclusion and use English to communicate when the group of speakers includes more than one language. Thoughtful and reflective language usage also includes:
- Using a mother-tongue in any class where the teacher gives permission so that the student may better understand instructions or a concept.
- Speaking and practicing a world language when it directly relates to academic world language instruction or study programs.
Support for Language of Instruction
The school community strives to provide a nurturing environment for each individual student. The language profile of each student is determined by a variety of assessments upon admission. The faculty chooses effective strategies to ensure that each child continues to make progress in the achievement of English proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and viewing.
An English Language Learning (ELL) specialist uses a range of methods in the elementary and secondary school divisions to assist students in the acquisition of the skills they need to access the curriculum and to be socially involved in all the school’s programs.
In the Elementary School, the ELL specialist collaborates with classroom teachers to support students in the classroom and sometimes, if needed, out of the classroom for more intensive support dependent on needs determined in collaboration planning.
ELL students are also tested on the WIDA MODEL twice per school year. Parents are informed of their child’s progress through parent/teacher conferences, and school grading reports. The elementary and secondary libraries are keys to the success of our language learners. The Library has sections dedicated to fiction and nonfiction in a variety of languages and at different reading levels. The school subscribes to a variety of databases and software which enables the students at any grade level to research information written at a comprehensible level at school and at home. Literacy in the language of instruction is supported through the emphasis on individual reading habits. Learning Labs are required to devote substantial time to independent reading and reflection.
Developing English Proficiency
Second language acquisition research suggests that language learners develop basic interpersonal communication skills in one to two years, depending upon the learner’s use of English in social environments. However, reaching “native-like proficiency” in academics requires from five to nine years with appropriate motivation and support. Without appropriate support, an English Language Learner (ELL) is unlikely ever to achieve competency in the academic English skills necessary to succeed.
Language Across the Curriculum
Language across the curriculum is supported by all teachers using a common approach. This is further enhanced through the development of interdisciplinary units, as well as the inclusion of a ‘communication’ criteria in all subjects. Through our grade level and interdepartmental collaborations, all teachers, regardless of the content area, take on the responsibility of helping students to improve their oral and written language skills.
The majority of students will study an additional language. Students with low levels of English language proficiency (the language of instruction) will receive specific instruction that will enable them to study English as their Language Acquisition course and Portuguese (or mother-tongue where possible) as their Language and Literature course.
EAR encourages an English-speaking environment while at the same time fostering additive bilingualism through the promotion of awareness of one’s environment and the use of the language that is most inclusive and appropriate for any given situation. To be successful participants and contributors, students will be required to use English or the language of instruction for Language Acquisition courses with their teachers and peers in the classroom.
The rationale for a Language Use Policy
- To help students prepare for college and university in English and Portuguese speaking countries
- To reinforce the language of instruction
- To ensure clear communication and understanding with and by students in the classroom
- To promote and celebrate multilingual communication
- To encourage inclusiveness of all students with common social languages
- To provide an environment where appropriate language and behavior is reflected and a safe and healthy community is maintained.