Becoming Multiliterate Lifelong Learners
Much has been said, written, researched, and taught about language instruction, acquisition, and practice. The benefits of language learning are well-documented and include a variety of areas of growth – cognitive, socio-emotional, and brain development, to name a few. Language learners are mental jugglers, exercising their ability to multitask and set priorities and connect with their ancestors. Even babies are showing the benefits of exposure to more than one language.
Language acquisition is an intrinsic part of the ISB community and is tied to the school’s mission of providing a multicultural education that connects with the world outside the classroom. ISB’s language immersion program continues its International Baccalaureate (IB) thread from the Primary Years Programme (PYP) to the Middle Years Programme (MYP), ensuring a seamless transition rooted in intercultural awareness and an inherent commitment to learning how to communicate in more than one language.
Language Acquisition in the MYP
As PYP students move into the 6th grade (the first year of the MYP), they will continue their language program of study with additional coursework in what is known as “language B” in the MYP. For students enrolled in the English program, their language B will be either French or Spanish, English/French students will study Spanish, and English/Spanish students will study French. Language B will be taught four times a week and the duration of each class will be 55 minutes. The primary goal of ISB’s language B component is to encourage students to study a subject area in their second or third language within three or four years’ time.
The MYP’s language B piece is designed to ensure that students develop oral, visual, and written literacy while gaining insight into the cultures where the languages are spoken. As MYP students become bilingual or trilingual, their range of experiences and perspectives broaden and multiply – they become critical and skilled communicators.
Building a Second Language Instruction Team
Led by the IB’s language instruction framework, ISB’s second language department aims to further develop and strengthen students’ critical thinking skills, lifelong learning habits, and understanding of cultural identities and perspectives.
MYP teachers are encouraged to use the proven successful approaches below:
- Provide maximum exposure to language: Use the target language as much as possible.
- Use language for communication: Focus on the target language as a means of communication and emphasize fluency over accuracy at the lower levels of acquisition.
- Focus on meaning (not grammar) to develop fluency.
- Pay attention to form: In higher levels of acquisition, attention needs to be paid to grammar in order to move from fluency to accuracy.
- Help students use the target language actively: Provide opportunities for students to practice the language in a productive, receptive, and interactive way.
- Encourage students to interact in the target language: Provide opportunities to observe and participate in language usage so that students feel motivated.
- Ensure that the right level of acquisition is taught: Connect knowledge in ways that make sense to students.
- Pay attention to each student’s individual needs: Make sure that varied teaching techniques are used in the classroom so that every student can develop his/her own potential.
The second language team will ensure that students gain language proficiency, develop an understanding of diverse linguistic and cultural heritages, and create a toolkit of skills that will facilitate future language learning.
I am always happy (and available!) to answer any questions you may have about the Middle School’s academic program and the MYP. Please feel free to contact me directly at email@example.com.