Language Policies

Arendal International School Language Policy

Introduction
This document describes our perspective on language, important principles when learning a language and how these principles influence our teaching of language.
• It provides the school with a framework that will promote consistency in approach between grades and between subjects.
• It provides parents with information about our principles and our practices and assists them in understanding our curriculum.
• It will assist teachers in the planning, presenting and evaluation stages of teaching.
• It will be a tool for teachers to reflect on their language practice and guide professional development and appraisal.

The school in 2008 has the following languages as first languages, although many speak more than one language,:
English
Norwegian

Thai-2
Slovenian - 2
Chinese - 4
Urdu-3
Arabic-2
Dutch-2
French - 2.
Farsi – 1
Hungarian -1
Finnish -2
Polish – 1
German -1
Portugese - 2

Due to the number of the mother tongue languages and the limitation of the resources available, AIS does not support the in-class development of those languages. However, as mother language is an important part of the students’ lives and development, we encourage, organize and promote events that facilitate the use of the students’ mother tongue. These activities include and they are not limited to Mother Tongue Day, United Nations Day, International Literature Day and more.

In the community many parents are learning Norwegian as it is the host language but also because there are legal requirements for them to do so. So many parents are developing Norwegian language.

Our admission policy means we allow a wide range of language learners into our school.

The Primary team has been working on a language continuum scope and sequence so that we are able to include all our learners.

The points in this policy describe what we value and what we want to work towards. Our practices may not reflect all the points described in this policy but we aim to put our principles into practice.

Perspective
Language is used as a tool to communicate needs, feelings, ideas and experiences and to develop an understanding of the world and to construct meaning. It is essential for the development of social, emotional and cognitive skills. Language is used differently in different contexts and for different audiences and changes over time. It has certain conventions that need to be adhered to but it also allows individuals to express themselves creatively. Everyone expresses themselves in a unique way.

Language development is concerned with acquiring and applying a set of skills and attitudes as well as an understanding of the use of language. Language consists of five skills or strands (listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and presenting), which operate interactively. Each of these strands involves different cognitive processes. Language skills can be further developed by challenging people’s level of understanding and providing good models of effective communication. There are different developmental stages as well as learning styles in learning a language. Individual students will progress through the different stages at their own pace. Developing confidence as a communicator is critical in everyone’s language development.

Purpose
Good language skills are required for:
o expressing one’s needs and feelings
o understanding another’s needs and feelings
o constructing meaning, reflecting and making sense of the world, individually or with others
o acquiring and sharing information, knowledge and skills for practical reasons, personal interest, pleasure and scientific development
o expressing creativity through writing, poetry, singing, composing music etcetera
In line with the PYP we aim that students will develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes that will enable them to be:
Inquirers: They inquire into language use and language structures. They use language to acquire information and to make sense of the world around them.
Thinkers: They are able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly.
Communicators: They are competent users of oral and written language forms in a variety of situations. They listen attentively and pay attention to detail. They speak confidently and clearly. They read fluently with good comprehension. They write clearly, concisely, accurately in a style appropriate for the purpose.
Risk takers: They are willing to attempt to read, write or speak in situations where they may not feel totally confident.
Knowledgeable: They have acquired the vocabulary and understanding to discuss language structures, text forms and literary styles.
Principled: They are aware that language is powerful that it can have a profound effect and it must therefore be used responsibly.
Caring: They show care in their use of language and are aware of how the use of language can affect others.
Open minded: They respect differences and similarities between languages, dialects and personal communication styles. They understand that language can be used as an expression of bias.
Well-balanced: They can express themselves orally as well as in writing and find a balance between listening and speaking in communicating with others. They read a variety of written material and are able to write for different purposes and audiences.
Reflective: They reflect on their language development and consciously work at improving their language proficiency.

Principles and Practices of Teaching Language
We believe that students become good communicators when:
1. Students are engaged in a wide variety of activities in which they are actively involved in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
In practice this means that we offer a wide variety of teaching and assessment tasks in which students actively generate meaningful language rather, then producing isolated language structures. Students are actively involved in selecting their own reading materials for pleasure and research purposes, in addition to the books they read to support their reading development.
2. The language curriculum is embedded in the whole school curriculum and language activities are meaningful and relevant.
In practice this means that our teaching is generated from the units of inquiry. The teaching of elements of language such as text structure, grammar, spelling and vocabulary are taught as much as possible in the context of the Unit of Inquiry and have relevance within that context. We aim to support our English Language Learners in the classroom with vocabulary support and work differentiated to meet their needs but get them involved in the inquiry units. Ideally a teaching assistant or EAL specialist will be available to help these learners in the classroom and there should be collaboration and planning between the people working with our language learners.
3. The learning environment
a. is positive, comfortable and supportive and encourages verbal expression
In practice this means that we want to develop the student’s confidence through:
• positive feedback
• working in small groups / pairs
• offer ample opportunity for oral reading /oral presentation/role play/songs
• offer ample opportunity for discussions/different viewpoints/debate
• providing opportunities for students to choose what they’re comfortable with and to improve through practice
b. contains a variety of resources and is text and print-rich
In practice this means that:
• we work towards a well stocked school library as well as classroom libraries that contain reading schemes as well as real books that represent our multi cultural setting and include a variety of text forms
• we use technology in language learning
• we use a range of teaching resources including audio and video tapes, games and artifacts
• student produced materials, such as books and projects are displayed and labeled
• records of student discussions and student and teacher questions are displayed
2. Students are involved in assessing themselves and receive continuous feedback.
In practice this means that:
• we use portfolios, rubrics, self reflections and mini conferences to encourage self assessment
• we use the writing process, including drafting, editing and sharing work with others as a means to reflect and improve upon our ideas
• whenever possible, students are involved in designing assessment criteria to analyse their work
3. Different linguistic backgrounds are recognized and appreciated.
In practice this means that we work towards:
• displaying posters and labels that reflect the different languages in our school
• having books, tapes and videos in different languages, including bilingual versions of well-known stories
• read stories in different languages to value the variety of languages spoken
• make connections between languages (both in foreign language classes as well as the homeroom classes)
• use UN day and international celebrations to recognize and learn about different languages
• teachers develop consistent teaching practices in Norwegian and English
4. Mother tongue development is valued and supported.
In practice this means that we:
• encourage and support the organization of afternoon classes in mother tongue
• acquire resources in the mother tongues spoken at the school
• show respect and interest towards mother tongue
• encourage parents to keep using mother tongue at home
5. Students and teachers reflect on language as a system with patterns and structures and as a tool for communication in different situations.
In practice this means that we:
• give the opportunity to study different text forms and look at how they address audience, purpose and context
• reflect on the patterns and structures of language at text level, sentence level and word level
• discover rules that govern patterns when studying different text forms
• reflect on what is the most appropriate form of communication for the purpose
6. The five different language strands are taught in an integrated fashion.
In practice this means that we use:
• writing activities and oral language activities as a follow up of reading activities or vice versa
• integrate the different language strands in the unit of inquiry
7. Differences in developmental stage and learning styles are acknowledged and suitably catered for.
In practice this means that:
• we differentiate in the tasks we set, which includes specific goals for individual students
• we differentiate in the support we provide and the type and amount of feedback we give
• we use different grouping strategies to suit different abilities and learning styles
COMMENT: The reality of AIS differentiation demands the full time employment of a language specialist (ESL and Norsk 2) to deliver support lessons across the levels and curricula.
It is possible that within the Arendal School System a language specialist could be shared amongst the schools to cater for the needs of all the schools, not just AIS.
8. The teacher models effective communication strategies.
In practice this means that we:
• model different reading and writing strategies
• demonstrate how to speak and listen effectively in various situations

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