At ISH we embrace the diversity languages and cultures bring to our community. Often our students speak one, two, or three languages at home. Although most of the classes are taught in English there are endless opportunities for students to learn and excel in both their native tongue and new languages.
- English as our language of communication at school
- English as an Additional Language EAL
- Modern Foreign Language Programme
- Mother Tongue
English as our language of communication at school
English is our main language of teaching and learning. While the majority of our students speak a different language at home, English is the language of communication at school.
We therefore offer a complete programme at all levels, starting from P3 in the Early Childhood Centre and Junior School to the stimulating, challenging courses of language and literature in Secondary School, leading to external examinations in the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme.
Students who would benefit from English language support in order to be successful in the curriculum join the English as an Additional Language programme (EAL).
English as an Additional Language EAL
For many of our students, English is another language and not their native language. Therefore we place a strong emphasis on our EAL (English as an Additional Language) programme throughout the grade levels, addressing the needs of non-native English speakers in accordance with their social, emotional and academic development.
At all levels, the programme aims to provide continuity of instruction and develop communicative competence. Every effort is made to coordinate with classroom teachers and to integrate class content areas into the EAL programme. To adequately address the different needs of Junior and Secondary School students, an EAL department exists in both sections of the school. The departments work closely together to ensure continuity and progression from P3 up to Grade 10.
EAL Junior School
As language forms the basis of all learning, we understand the important role the EAL department plays in helping the school to achieve its mission and vision so that our students can understand each other and learn together in a welcoming and inclusive environment.
The Junior School supports native speakers of languages other than English to develop English language skills, succeed academically and thrive socially in our international school context. In order to achieve those goals, we use widely accepted standards of content and skill materials within a responsive, mixed push-in and pull-out instruction delivery model.
Junior School EAL Services Overview
Students enrolled in the Junior School EAL programme receive a combination of pull-out classes and push-in classroom support depending on their individual level and needs.
Group A Beginner English Language Learners typically receive 7 pull out classes plus 2-3 periods of push-in classroom support each week. These classes have a stronger focus on survival and social language, vocabulary, speaking and listening. These classes also support students with academic language and vocabulary such as Math language and International Primary Curriculum (IPC) topics (e.g human body, volcanoes, art and toys) when they are ready and the content is relevant.
Group B Intermediate English Language Learners typically receive 4 pull out classes plus 2-3 periods of push-in classroom support each week. These classes have a stronger focus on reading and writing. These classes also support students with academic language and vocabulary such as Math language and IPC topics.
Advanced English Language Learners in our monitor group receive in-classroom support. EAL Teachers and Classroom Teachers work together to monitor students and assist if and when needed.
Methodology & Curriculum
The Junior School EAL curriculum, based on the WIDA standards of content and skills, also reflects the developmental needs, academic expectations and social context of the International School of Hamburg (ISH). The standards encompass five general areas of content, which dictate both vocabulary and also language forms and conventions to be taught. Underpinning our entire curriculum is the promotion and development of a culture of “can-do” amongst teachers and students alike. All teachers should maintain high content expectations for students, while scaffolding language skills and knowledge. Students should develop an attitude and approach of self-advocacy, where they ask for clarification and support where they see that students need extra help.
Social and instructional language is the interdisciplinary vocabulary and language of functioning as a member of the community. This language occurs in every context and encompasses uses such as morning greetings, joining and exiting groups, giving and following directions and agreeing and disagreeing. Explicit teaching of social and instructional language becomes critical in the upper grades, as students are expected to comprehend and respond to this language in increasingly complex situations.
Language Arts content corresponds to the literacy program at the ISH. Students entering P3 to grade two are considered to be learning a new language while also developing basic literacy skills for the first time. Students beginning to learn English at our school from grades three and above are expected to already have command of basic literacy skills in their mother tongue, so that the focus of teaching and learning shifts to the transference and practice of those skills into English.
However, language differences and learning gaps require EAL teachers to be attentive to new or underdeveloped skills that may need to be taught even in the upper grades.
The language of math at ISH is closely related to the Junior School’s Math In Focus program, which is used across grade levels in the regular classroom. The EAL department has developed, and continues to develop, revise and update, math tests that are linguistically accessible. Students are also explicitly taught math vocabulary and reading comprehension skills associated with activities and assessments.
The language of science and the language of social studies are both taught in relation to the IPC units of study in the Junior School. Students study tiered vocabulary associated with each unit, along with trans-disciplinary academic language, text features and discourse formats associated with each unit.
Our World, Second Edition, a seven-level series by National Geographic Learning is used to guide teaching and learning in the EAL classroom. The textbook series provides content that motivates learners to use English, including surprising photography, meaningful stories and readings and immersive video. It covers cross-curricular topics that challenge learners and deepens their understanding of the world in English.The series helps learners achieve more through collaborative projects, extensive critical thinking and visual literacy work, and activities that inspire meaningful thinking and sharing.
Objectives of Junior School EAL
to help students use English to meet personal, social and academic needs in the school environment.
to promote and encourage individual and natural acquisition of language through the school environment.
to help students gradually integrate into their classrooms as they acquire the English skills needed to ensure school success based on each student’s stage of English and cognitive development as well as learning styles.
to help students become independent learners in an English language classroom.
EAL Secondary School
The English as an Additional Language (EAL) department of the Secondary School supports secondary school students whose primary language is not English so that they may develop a level of linguistic competence that they need to become successful learners in their mainstream classes. New students who may need EAL support are tested when they first join ISH.
Provide an enjoyable and successful learning environment in which students feel secure and confident to develop their language skills.
Provide a welcoming and supportive environment for students with limited English proficiency especially when they are new to the ISH community.
Provide support to allow students to progress as rapidly as possible and acquire essential linguistic skills for them to function independently and successfully in mainstream classes.
Enabling students to acquire the social language that they need to be able to participate fully in all aspects of school life.
Recognise and respect the cultural and linguistic diversity that EAL students bring to their classes and to the school.
Provide the students with the necessary skills to allow them to move from one EAL level to the next until they are ready to be fully mainstreamed.
EAL classes are designed to help students develop their skills in listening, speaking, reading, writing and media literacy, which are required to communicate and study effectively.
Secondary School EAL students attend two different types of EAL classes:
English Language Acquisition (ELA) classes which follow the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and centre on the development of linguistic competence in Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking skills. These classes are offered at Emergent, Capable and Proficient level and students are assessed according to the MYP Language Acquisition Criteria.
Extra EAL support classes for those students who require additional language support in specific areas. These classes aim to reinforce the content of their mainstream classes, especially social studies, maths and science and support with academic writing is given. Additional in-class push-in language support is provided for selected students in order to help them access the taught curriculum.
Modern Foreign Language Programme
Our Modern Foreign Languages programme aims, to the greatest extent possible, to support all ISH students to become proficient users of more than one language. In the world of the 21st Century, speaking multiple languages and understanding other cultures are vital tools that allow our students to contribute to building greater intercultural understanding across the world. We believe that students learn language predominantly by using language to achieve meaningful purposes in real contexts and so our language programmes support students to use language in context wherever possible. At present we offer German, French and Spanish.
In addition to the above languages, ISH is offering an expanded range of languages as part of our mother tongue language programme after school. The mother tongue language programme is designed to support students in maintaining the language and culture of their home country. Each year the languages on offer change based on the demand and possibilities.
The Benefits of Mother Tongue Education
There are several advantages related to an education that takes into consideration children’s native language:
- First children learn more efficiently and quicker in their native language. This prevents delays in learning.
- Furthermore pupils enjoy learning more and feel more comfortable.
- Moreover pupils' self-esteem will increase when it is allowed to speak in their native language.
- In addition to that, parents can participate more. For example, they can help their children with their homework and can take part in school activities more easily.
- Studies have shown that children who take advantage of their multilingualism are most likely to enjoy a higher socioeconomic status.
- On average schools that allow pupils to use their mother tongue report that they need less repetition in class.
- Last but not least, it is reported that children stay in schools without a language barrier longer.
ISH helps organise Mother Tongue classes outside the school curriculum using school facilities at the end of a regular school day and within the school curriculum for MYP and DP students. The lessons are taught by experienced private teachers with whom the parents enter into an agreement about participation and payment. The Mother Tongue Coordinators also assist in finding suitable teachers for these courses. Some programmes, such as Swedish and Dutch, follow the national curriculum of their country.
In the Junior School, we offer mother tongue classes after school to students based on request and need. We currently offer Dutch, French, Spanish and extra German lessons after school. We are always looking to expand our program and offerings and if there is a specific mother tongue language that a Junior School student is looking for, we will coordinate finding an experienced private teacher and offering classroom space.
When students reach IB level, they can choose their first language as an A subject. There are two options. Provided there is a qualified teacher available, students can study at higher or standard level. This option is funded privately by the parents of the student. Alternatively, students can choose what is called the “school-supported” programme which means students can study their mother tongue at standard level and without a teacher.
The students should ideally study the language and literature of their first language prior to entering grade 11. To facilitate and encourage students to choose the above options, the Mother Tongue Programme is offered to both junior school and secondary school students.
ISH recognises that it takes a lot of time and dedication on the student's part to participate in these courses. In order to support and recognise this, the Mother Tongue course is included on MYP and DP students official school report and transcripts for grades 6 to 10.
How parents can help
- Actively encourage the use of the Mother Tongue in the home. It is not useful to speak English to your child in the home if it is not your first language
- Promote knowledge and interest in your child’s first language by reading or telling stories in their mother tongue.
- Encourage your child to read novels and textbooks in their mother tongue. Many students retain their fluency in their first language but fail to develop their literacy skills fully.
- Ensure that your child has a good bilingual dictionary for school.