Embark on a voyage of learning


English has a unique position at ISH as it is a subject at the heart of the curriculum and is the language of instruction at the school.

We recognize and celebrate the cultural and linguistic diversity of our student body yet we are aware that proficiency in English is essential for academic success at the school. In order to meet the needs of students who enter the school with limited competence in English we offer a structured programme of EAL support. However, we also encourage students to continue tuition in their Mother Tongue. Advice and guidance can be obtained from the Mother Tongue Co-ordinator.

our programme

In the design of our programme, the selection and presentation of our materials we aim to reflect the ideals of the IB Learner profile.

At all levels we aim to encourage students to express their ideas clearly and precisely, coherently and creatively, experimenting with a variety of styles and forms in both oral and written communication.

The central focus of all courses is the study and enjoyment of literature in all its forms, through time and across cultures. An exciting range of works is offered to inspire students to reflect on literature and to develop skills of critical thinking. Ideally, students will develop an appreciation of the richness and complexity of human experience that literature records, greater self-knowledge and an understanding and respect for perspectives different from their own.

We also invite students to examine textualities beyond the literary as well as visual media in order to develop a discriminating critical awareness of the way language is used in the world around them.

English Projects and Events

  • The Man who Planted Trees – Jean Gino. This was a whole school project to promote the discussion of literature throughout the secondary school. All secondary students (Grades 6-12) read this inspiring world literature novella and worked together on a series of projects and presentations including a play written and performed by the 7th grade under the direction of IB Theatre Arts students.
  • Study visits to The World Press Photography Exhibition, the Museum of Emigration to the New World, Dialogue in the Dark (students experience the world of the blind for an hour)
  • This year we ran both a Poetry and a Short Story Competition and the best writing was professionally published in an anthology entitled "And Their Words Flowed Through Me" (a selection).
  • We organized a Literature Festival which included workshop with visiting poets (Terry McDonagh and Matthew Sweeney) and storyteller (Niall de Burca). This culminated in an evening of readings and music with our guests where students read and performed classic texts and their own work.
  • Creative Writing Workshops – extra–curricular activity. Alternate Wednesdays. 
  • Theatre and Film visits are arranged when the opportunity presents itself.

Creative Writing Competition

We aim to enrich students’ experience in English by providing additional creative opportunities and literary and cultural events.

We organize an annual Creative Writing Competition with a different theme or focus each year. Students impress us every year with the high quality of their creative responses. They also enjoy the opportunity to have their work recognized and published. This activity  forges innovative interdisciplinary links with other departments.  (Link to Creative writing Competition 2016)

The English Department held a Creative Writing Competition to mark the 60th anniversary of the school. We always invite ALL secondary students to enter.

Student Assessments include both formal and creative responses to Literature.

This year ‘Blue and Gold‘, a new student newspaper, was organized, edited and published by the students themselves.

Periodically we also organize literary events – Evenings of Music, Performance and Words where students, teachers and guests read and perform together. At the most recent event we collaborated with the Science and Theatre Arts departments. Our guest was the superlative storyteller Niall de Burca. (link to Student Anthology and Literature Week)

As part of the English Department Curriculum students have the opportunity to participate in an array of local cultural events and exhibitions which extend students’ learning experiences. For example: The Maritime Museum, Dialogue in the Dark, the Ballet at the Hamburg Staatsoper (Othello/ A Streetcar Named Desire), live streaming of National Theatre productions, relevant new films.

Annually in May our grade 10 and Grade 11 IB students visit the World Press Photography Exhibition as part of their work on photojournalism.  This inspires creative writing and is also an important element of the IB Language and Mass Communication unit.

The English Department organizes a Writing Centre run by senior students to provide peer assistance to younger students with their writing. 

One of the four end of year trips for Grade 9 is the English Department's cultural trip to London which has a performance and workshop at Shakespeare's Globe at its heart. In addition there are visits to museums, galleries, backstage tours and contemporary theatre productions. (Link to London porgramme and photos)

samples of Students' Work

Forever Mine

Forever Mine

My flag rising,
my breath quickening,
eyes wide.
This was it.

My exhaustion,
my pain,
all was put aside.

The water looking harmless,
the buzz still ringing in my ears,
thinking of nothing but this race.

A million things crossed my mind,
but only one stayed.
I had won.

The pure gold loosely hanging around my neck.
All the power,
all the hours of training locked into this medal.

Forever captured.

Forever mine.

Charlotte, Grade 7

My Moment

My Moment

Red, white, blue swaying in front of me
My anthem ringing through my ears and into my heart.

My memory flashing,
thinking back at my race,
my moment.
the buzzer still lingering in my head.
The water still gliding past my body.

Eight swimmers,
one winner.
Here I am.

Hand on my heart,
eyes closed.
Clutching the medal.
My medal.

Eline, Grade 7