Language Learning Philosophy
At OIS, we believe that language is essential to all learning. All teachers are considered to be language teachers, both inside and outside the classroom. Language learning refers not only to the learning of a specific language, but also the culture. We provide a strong, challenging curriculum that is inquiry- based and incorporates all areas relevant to literacy: oral, written and visual. Through language, our students develop not only knowledge, but also social skills and values, as well as the ability to think and learn. Language is used in all subject areas including: mathematics, social studies, science and technology (design), the arts, personal, social and physical education. It is a tool that students use to inquire and communicate what they have learnt. The acquisition of academic language proficiency skills supports and develops interpersonal communicative skills, student identity, and confidence.
English (UK) is the primary language of instruction throughout the curriculum from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 6. Spanish is the second language learnt from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 6. French language classes are also required for students in Grade 6. In our appreciation for the immense diversity of the area of the Caribbean in which we reside, we have reached the conclusion that all students should be exposed to a variety of foreign languages from as early an age as possible.
Principles of Language Learning
• At OIS, ongoing language development is the responsibility of all teachers, parents and students.
• We recognize that our students come from different language backgrounds and will progress at their own individual paces.
• Language is taught in context and new information is related to existing knowledge.
• Language support is provided beyond the classroom.
• Learning different languages promotes open-mindedness.
• Language bridges the gap between people.
• Feedback to each student’s progress is ongoing and is provided in the language of instruction.
• Language is a form of communication that is reflected in various ways.
English as a Second or Other Language
Omololu International School does not currently offer an English as a Second or Other Language Program. Students not fluent in English are informally assessed when entering OIS and are placed in an immersion environment. Support to English Language Learners is provided by the classroom teacher as needed.
Language of Instruction
Our language of instruction is English. Our language curriculum is based on the Anguilla National Language Curriculum and is divided into the following components: Oral Language, Listening, and Speaking; Text Level Reading and Writing; Sentence Level Grammar, Punctuation, and Sentence Structure; Word Level Phonics, Spelling, Vocabulary, and handwriting.
The development of language skills is encouraged mainly through discussions, shared inquiry, presentations, drama, exposure to a variety of literary texts, research, Six Traits of Writing and a variety of reading strategies. Differentiated instruction is provided to accommodate the language needs of students.
Pre-kindergarteners are emergent writers who practice daily writing and participate in group reading activities, discussions and presentations. Students in Kindergarten through Grade 2 participate in literacy centers, shared inquiry, discussions, guided reading, journal writing, and spelling. Students in Grades 3 through 6 focus on writing, spelling and vocabulary tests, journaling, different genres of writing, discussions, shared inquiry, novel study and literary circle, research and presentations, and use the Reading A-Z program to read content-based fiction and non-fiction literature.
All students have their reading levels assessed using the Reading A-Z Reading Program in order to ascertain the appropriate reading level for each child. Students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 4 use the RazKids reading application for the LearnPad tablet, giving them access to a wide variety of digitally-based reading texts. Teachers assign texts individually, based on the reading level of each child.
Elementary students are assessed via the Reading A-Z Reading test twice a year to determine their reading levels. In addition, students in Grades 3, 5, and 6 are assessed on their reading comprehension and language skills at the end of the school year with the Anguilla National Test of Standards. Finally, students in Grade 6 are assessed using the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA), a portfolio-based year long assessment of all core subject matter.
The Learner Profile and Attitudes are an integral part of our everyday instruction in the classroom across all grades at the school. Weekly Omololu Time Meetings are held in which the attributes of the Learner Profile are promoted through skits, poetry, song and presentations. Additionally, students are recognized weekly for displaying one or more of the IB Attitudes and Attributes of the Learner Profile.
Annual Literacy and Cultural Activities additionally promote literacy concepts and ideas. Students participate in Omololu Culture Day, where they are able to share elements of their culture through music, writing, oral presentations, and visual representations. Our Literacy Fair allows classes to focus on individual genres of literature, presenting what they have learned to parents and invited guests. Finally, our Annual Foreign Language Exhibition gives students the chance to prepare presentations in either French or Spanish to share with the rest of the school.
Second and Third Language
Spanish is the second language taught at OIS beginning at Pre-Kindergarten age. All students receive two (2) hours of instruction per week in Spanish. Pre-K and Kindergarten receive instruction four (4) times per week for 30 minutes per session and students in grades 1-6 receive instruction twice per week for 1 hour a session. Additionally, students in Grade 6 receive instruction in French for one (1) hour per week in order to prepare them for the local secondary school. Emphasis in lower elementary is on the spoken word, while upper elementary includes both oral and written. The primary goal of foreign language instruction is to provide students with a practical foundation in a language other than English. Foreign language instructors must have a bachelor’s degree in education as well as at least 2 years experience teaching that language.
All languages are promoted through Culture Day, activities and an annual showcase.
Communication with parents who are non-native language speakers is done through newsletters and interpreters.
A variety of strategies and tools are used for assessment and evaluation:
• Anecdotal Records
• Reading Running Record
• Teacher Checklists
• Teacher generated tests
• Anguilla Test of Standards
• Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment
• Reading A-Z Leveled Reading Assessments
Feedback is provided through conferences and reports.
Resources to Implement the Language Policy
Teachers are required to complete online IB training and have access to other professional development.
This language policy is reviewed every 3 years (or more often, as necessary) by the staff for continuous improvement. Teachers agree to implement the policy in their classroom and will continue to have an input into its ongoing development.
PYP: Language Aims and Objectives
Teachers provide the environment and the necessary language support to enable students to participate fully in the academic program and in the social life of the school, as well as to develop as individuals. Teachers recognize that language learning plays a major role for students for whom the language of instruction is not the student’s first language. Because language is the major connecting element across the curriculum, students are given many opportunities to focus not only on language for its own sake, but also to apply language within the trans-disciplinary Program of Inquiry and across all subjects in the program. Students have many opportunities to listen and speak in order to develop effective communication skills. Students use language to inquire into central ideas that are relevant, significant, engaging and challenging in units of inquiry that cross subject areas. The Program of Inquiry provides an authentic context for students to develop and use language. Wherever possible, language is taught through the relevant and realistic within the context of the units of inquiry. The teacher plans language instruction that supports students’ inquiries and the sharing of their learning. Units of inquiry focus on key language learning as students read and comprehend a variety of text types and write in various formats for a variety of purposes. They use writing to inquire and to reflect on their learning.
It is understood that learners within the same age group have different proficiency levels and needs; therefore, teachers are encouraged to consider a range of abilities when planning language learning experiences for a class of learners. Each learner is a unique individual with different experiences and perceptions, so no two learners progress at the same rate, or along the same developmental pathways.
The IB phases of learning (as articulated in the IBO’s Language Scope and Sequence document for the PYP) attempt to describe the language learning processes through which learners progress. It is acknowledged that there are earlier and later phases that have not been described in these continuums. Learners within the same age group will have different proficiency levels and needs—therefore teachers consider a range of phases when planning language learning experiences for a class of learners. Each learner is a unique individual with different experiences and perceptions, so no two learners progress at the same rate, or along the same developmental pathways. A learner may exhibit a range of learning outcomes from various phases at any one time. Learners seldom progress in a neat and predictable manner; instead they may remain in one phase for some length of time and move rapidly through other phases.
Overall Expectations for Listening and Speaking
Learners show an understanding of the value of speaking and listening to communicate. They recognize that sounds are associated with objects, or with symbolic representations of them. They are using language to name their environment, to get to know each other, to initiate and explore relationships, to question and inquire.
Learners show an understanding that sounds are associated with objects, events and ideas, or with symbolic representations of them. They are aware that an object or symbol may have different sounds or words associated with it in different languages. They are beginning to be cognizant about the high degree of variability of language and its uses.
Learners show an understanding of the wide range of purposes of spoken language: that it instructs, informs, entertains, reassures; that each listener’s perception of what they hear is unique. They are compiling rules about the use of different aspects of language.
Learners show an understanding of the conventions associated with speaking and listening and the value of adhering to those conventions. They are aware that language is a vehicle for becoming knowledgeable; for negotiating understanding; and for negotiating the social dimension.
Learners are able to understand the difference between literal and figurative language; how to use language differently for different purposes. They are aware that they are building on their previous experiences and using language to construct new meaning
Overall Expectations for Visual Language – Viewing and Presenting
Learners show an understanding that the world around them is full of visual language that conveys meaning. They are able to interpret and respond to visual texts. Although much of their own visual language is spontaneous, they are extending and using visual language in more purposeful ways.
Learners identify, interpret and respond to a range of visual text prompts and show an understanding that different types of visual texts serve different purposes. They use this knowledge to create their own visual texts for particular purposes.
Learners show an understanding that visual text may represent reality or fantasy. They recognize that visual text resources can provide factual information and increase understanding. They use visual text in a reflective way to enrich their storytelling or presentations, and to organize and represent information.
Learners show open-mindedness about the use of a range of visual text resources to access information.
They think critically, and are articulate about the use of visual text to influence the viewer. They are able to use visual imagery to present factual information, or to tell a story.
Through inquiry, learners engage with an increasing range of visual text resources. As well as exploring the viewing and presenting strategies that are a part of the planned learning environment, they select and use strategies that suit their learning styles. They are able to make connections between visual imagery and social commentary. They show more discernment in selecting information they consider reliable. They are able to use visual imagery to support a position.
Overall Expectations for Written Language – Reading
Learners show an understanding that print represents the real or the imagined world. They know that reading gives them knowledge and pleasure; that it can be a social activity or an individual activity. They have a concept of a “book”, and an awareness of some of its structural elements. They use visual cues to recall sounds and the words they are “reading” to construct meaning.
Learners show an understanding that language can be represented visually through codes and symbols.
They are extending their data bank of printed codes and symbols and are able to recognize them in new contexts. They understand that reading is a vehicle for learning, and that the combination of codes conveys meaning.
Learners show an understanding that text is used to convey meaning in different ways and for different purposes—they are developing an awareness of context. They use strategies, based on what they know, to read for understanding. They recognize that the structure and organization of text conveys meaning.
Learners show an understanding of the relationship between reading, thinking and reflection. They know that reading is extending their world, both real and imagined, and that there is a reciprocal relationship between the two. Most importantly, they have established reading routines and relish the process of reading.
Learners show an understanding of the strategies authors use to engage them. They have their favourite authors and can articulate reasons for their choices. Reading provides a sense of accomplishment, not only in the process, but in the access it provides them to further knowledge about, and understanding of, the world.
Overall Expectations for Written Language – Writing
Learners show an understanding that writing is a form of expression to be enjoyed. They know that how you write and what you write conveys meaning; that writing is a purposeful act, with both individual and collaborative aspects.
Learners show an understanding that writing is a means of recording, remembering and communicating.
They know that writing involves the use of codes and symbols to convey meaning to others; that writing and reading uses the same codes and symbols. They know that writing can describe the factual or the imagined world.
Learners show an understanding that writing can be structured in different ways to express different purposes. They use imagery in their stories to enhance the meaning and to make it more enjoyable to write and read. They understand that writing can produce a variety of responses from readers. They can tell a story and create characters in their writing.
Learners show an understanding of the role of the author and are able to take on the responsibilities of authorship. They demonstrate an understanding of story structure and are able to make critical judgments about their writing, and the writing of others. They are able to rewrite to improve the quality of their writing.
Learners show an understanding of the conventions pertaining to writing, in its different forms, that are widely accepted. In addition, they demonstrate a high level of integration of the strands of language in order to create meaning in a manner that suits their learning styles. They can analyze the writing of others and identify common or recurring themes or issues. They accept feedback from others.