The English as a Second Language Programme at KIS
The English as a Second Language (ESL) department at KIS has the task of developing the language skills of students for whom English is not a mother tongue so that they can participate fully in lessons across the school curriculum. Traditionally, ESL teaching involved the withdrawal of students from many of their lessons for intensive language work focusing on the grammar and vocabulary of English. Although some intensive language work of this kind still plays a role in helping students with ESL develop the skills they need, the approach we adopt at KIS focuses more on supporting students in mainstream classrooms and helping them to participate in lessons with other students. This approach is the most appropriate for two important reasons: First, research has shown that although a learner can become conversationally fluent relatively quickly, it takes them many years to develop the language they need to complete academic tasks successfully. Second, for students to succeed in school, they need to learn what is often called academic language. This is the kind of language that students encounter when they read text books, and also the language they need to produce when completing examination papers or even answering questions in class. To learn academic language, students need to be in classrooms, participating in the kind of learning activities where this kind of “school language” is used.
At KIS, new students are assessed and may be placed on the ESL register if it is thought that they would benefit from ESL support. The ESL department uses a system of assessment scales which help us to accurately identify a student’s level of English proficiency and to tailor support accordingly. The main objective of ESL support is to enable learners to participate in mainstream lessons with their peers. However, in some cases, extra, intensive ESL work involving withdrawal from some lessons may form part of the support package. In Primary, students that are considered beginners are usually withdrawn for some intensive English work, and similarly, some of the students on the ESL register in Secondary may be withdrawn from their modern foreign language classes in order to receive intensive ESL work in a small group, focusing on academic language and skills that will support their learning in other subject areas. Some students on the ESL register may be supported in their mainstream English lessons rather than being withdrawn from any lessons. This approach involves collaboration between the mainstream English teacher and the ESL teacher so that the programme of study is adjusted to meet the needs of the ESL learners. The ESL teacher may come into class for some or all of the English lessons and work with the students on the ESL register. Students on the ESL register are assessed on an ongoing basis, and when it is decided that ESL support is no longer necessary, students are taken off the register.
The overall approach to ESL at KIS is flexible and designed to meet the needs of ESL students in an international school. The objective is that students with ESL will participate as fully as possible in learning activities with their peers and in doing so, will acquire the language they need to achieve their potential. The ESL department’s role in this process is to provide specialist tuition where necessary, to work with other teachers so that ESL students are able to access learning in various subjects whilst developing their language skills, and to monitor learning by careful and regular assessment.