Brent International School Baguio Language Policy (revised August 22, 2013)

Purpose

The Brent International School Baguio (BISB) Language Policy states our philosophy on language learning and teaching as well as our core beliefs on how we view language and its use in our school community.

General Guidelines:

Brent International School Baguio values the cultures of our student body, promotes self-esteem and respect for countries of origin, and recognizes the contributions each can make in our diverse community.

BISB believes that diversity in language is a positive aspect of our school community and that students should be encouraged to value and explore their native language. Mother-tongue usage is important to each student’s cultural identity and in establishing a foundation for linguistic understanding upon which second language learning can take place.

BISB believes it is important to make every student proficient in at least two languages, and encourage each student to reach the highest possible level of literacy in both. We believe that language is central to the development of global mindedness, allowing students to access a variety of experiences. Language acquisition should aim towards additive bilingualism: the second language learned shall be in addition to, and not replacing, the first language.

English is the common language of our school community and it must be spoken on campus as a matter of courtesy, empathy and respect.

Language Use in Classrooms and School Activities

(Applies to all classrooms with the exception of Modern Language classes and specific language clubs and activities)

English is the language of instruction and the medium for the delivery of the BISB curriculum. Other languages may be used for various purposes in the classroom and during instructional activities. However it must be remembered that gaining proficiency in English is a priority, one that allows students to perform to the best of their ability in accessing the Brent curriculum.

The use of another language other than English to aid classroom instruction or instructional activities should require above all the teacher’s permission for a student to do so and should be guided by the following guidelines:

  1. On occasion, it may be helpful for student understanding to talk through unfamiliar concepts in a student’s first language before learning the vocabulary necessary to communicate about these concepts in English. If this is needed, the teacher may initiate this with the students or allow a request by a student to do so. The teacher must first expressly allow a student to use another language before it may be spoken in the classroom. If a student speaks a language other than English, a warning should be given in the first instance and an Orange Slip issued for any subsequent instances.
  2. When whole class discussions or mixed language group discussions are taking place English must be used in order to ensure understanding by all participants and to avoid the exclusion of some group members. If a student speaks a language other than English, a warning should be given in the first instance and an Orange Slip issued for any subsequent instances.
  3. Teachers should consider language use in their planning and instruction to facilitate student understanding in the language and the concepts embedded in the curriculum.

Outside the classroom, including recess time, on the playground, in breaks between classes and after school and weekend activities:

  1. Any language may be spoken in these situations as long as the volume is confined to the circle of students/parents who speak the same language and provided that the conversation does not exclude someone within hearing distance due to the use of an unfamiliar language. If a situation of this latter kind arises, a warning should be given in the first instance and an Orange Slip issued for any subsequent instances.

Teachers:

At BISB, all teachers value language and are language teachers, and must be capable of native-like fluency in reading, writing, listening and speaking in their language of instruction. In addition, language teaching at BISB will follow the unified curriculum being developed for all Brent campuses. Assessment of language learning will follow guidelines from the Student-Parent Handbook and Faculty Manual (both are reviewed and revised annually).

Special Assistance:

To achieve bilingualism for non-native English speakers, a special help program will exist to assist learners with English, the “lingua franca” of our community. BISB will have an accurate idea at the outset of the language profile of each student through testing and interviews that take place as part of the school’s admissions process. Extraction from ESL classes will be followed by integration into mainstream classes with accurate assessment of the students’ progress. In some cases, BISB recommends tutorial help to assist in the maintenance of the Mother Tongue, if this is not formally taught at BISB. Subsequently, the IB Diploma Program provides the same support for students studying self-taught languages.

General Language Instruction

In addition to providing language assistance for low achievers, BISB will provide instruction for all learners by using several methods. Teachers will connect language use with the ‘real world’, and by stimulating multiple senses, rather than by simply explaining words by using other words. Also, teachers will use age-appropriate vocabulary, taking into account the varying stages reached by all class members, and they will lead students to grasp not only the primary meanings of words, but also the secondary meanings, so students build an appreciation for nuances in language. A universal look at language will be stressed to avoid confusion. BISB teachers will use the following strategies:

  1. Discourage slang or jargon in writing, aiming instead for universally understood simplicity and clarity, especially with younger students. For example, some usage typical of a text message, blog or instant message is entirely out of place in a scholarly essay or formal letter.
  1. Avoid circumlocutions and verbosity in communications.
  1. Reach an understanding that language is a remarkably rich and complex phenomenon, and it can include the non-spoken and non-written.
  1. Appreciate the differences between descriptive and persuasive use of language, avoiding misleading terms in the latter.
  1. Understand that the form of language used will vary with the nature of the intended audience.
  1. Realize that some language is offensive on religious, racial or cultural grounds, and to seek terms that promote harmony, tolerance, co-operation and understanding between peoples.
  1. Eliminate emotive or abusive language, using balanced and well-thought-out terms instead.
  1. Comprehend the subtleties of metaphor and irony, without confusing the latter with sarcasm.
  1. See through the misuse of language in propaganda and certain advertising, by thinking critically about the sources and deeper meaning of language they encounter.
  1. Accept that every language has non-translatable special words which contribute to the richness of that language.
  1. Grasp the meanings of idioms.
  1. Encourage interpretation skills to achieve accuracy, while recognizing that something is lost in many literal translations.
  1. Promote confident public speaking and debate.
  1. Understand that language and culture are reciprocally connected.
  1. Introduce cursive handwriting in Grade 3 onward, but other forms of handwriting are acceptable provided there is clarity and legibility.
  1. Recognize the links between language, experience and identity.
  1. Appreciate the beauty of language as used in poetry, fiction and song.
  1. Avoid cultural stereotyping and prejudice, but to instead use language in a fair, balanced and individualized way that is evidence-based.

Conclusion

The Language Policy of BISB agrees with the Mission Statement of Brent Schools, Brent ESLRs as published school-wide, the Mission Statement of the International Baccalaureate Organization and the International Baccalaureate Language Policy.