Teaching in English is a common feature of most Cognita schools worldwide. In 2016, our schools in Chile will be introducing English World, a bilingual stream, to their Early Years programmes. The move to a bilingual approach, using the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) programme, will mean children are immersed in English from the start of their school years, enabling them to absorb it as native speakers do. “English has always been central to our teaching but is even more important now with the expansion in communication technologies,” says Tatiana Bustos Vega, Bilingual Projects Coordinator for Cognita in Chile and co-leader of the project with Claudia Lüer Mas, English Coordinator. “To use Skype, social media or any other communication technology properly, our students need to be able to speak English fluently so they can connect with the rest of the world.”
The IPC is a holistic programme which teaches English through project work, adds Claudia. “We believe it’s a very good methodology for bilingual education as it integrates the subjects. Children have opportunity to speak, produce and present in English and generally use the language in a more real way.” The bilingual stream will run alongside a rich extra-curricular programme in English also offered by Cognita’s Chile schools. It includes Living English, a workshop led by a native speaker that teaches communication skills, and a British camp with two weeks of outdoor and indoor activities in English. Older students can also participate in ExPro, Cognita’s exchange programme which provides immersion in the daily life of a student in another country.
Excellence in EAL teaching is a hallmark of the International School Ho Chi Minh City-American Academy. The school uses the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) standards, a framework to assess and monitor student progress in EAL. “Our approach to EAL is intensive, carefully monitoring the progress of individual students so we can quickly identify where extra support is needed,” says Heather Carreiro, Curriculum Coordinator. For those whose weaker area is reading and writing, there are intensive classes where students focus primarily on reading and writing techniques and also develop the vocabulary and skills needed for reasoning, finding information within text and grammar. They receive detailed feedback and consolidate what they have learned through active writing and reflection.
Those who need to improve their speaking and listening skills attend small classes where they practise intensively and are taught by specialist teachers trained in WIDA methodology. Subject teachers also build in language objectives to their lesson. “Our goal is that every student will leave here with the skills and confidence to undertake higher level education in English, and be prepared to use the knowledge they have gained through second language learning. It is a tribute to our teachers that many of our students go on to study and work in the US with great success, thanks to the standard of English they learned here.”
The Australian International School Singapore is one of a number of Cognita schools that offer Mandarin. This video follows an AIS Mandarin teacher as she goes about a typical day in school.
Language learning is at the heart of Cognita’s four schools in Spain. Students are taught mainly in English but study many other languages, too. El Limonar International School Villamartin in Alicante hosts students of some 33 nationalities aged 3-18. They are taught predominantly in English and also learn Spanish language and culture with a third language option of French, German or Chinese from year 5 (age 8-9). For some there is the chance to add a fourth, such as Russian, in the shape of an i-GCSE, the international form of the English GCSE qualification for 16-year-olds.
For older children who join the school without a grounding in English, the school takes an immersive approach, explains the Principal, Justine Brown. “For example, if they come to us at 6 or 7, they follow a one-year intensive course studying English and maths. They work in small groups and they return to the mainstream when they no longer need the extra support. It helps the children build up confidence and enables the teacher to focus on individual children.” Language learning is not confined to the classroom, Justine adds. “We see every moment that the children are with us as a language opportunity. Whether it is trips out, time in the playground or a conversation as you are walking in the door, every single moment for the children is a chance for them to be learning something else and to be engaging in English.”
Daily foreign language learning is part of the curriculum at Stamford American International. This video looks at how the school teaches languages in keeping with its international ethos.