Utahloy international school Guangzhou_IB_Primary

 

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I would like my child to develop his/her English skills at a faster rate.     What can I/UISG do??

Research indicates that the 'average' time that a child will need to develop their English language skills to a relatively fluent standard is around seven years (Cummins, 1996). Adolescents tend to learn English more rapidly than younger learners but will still continue to exhibit EAL language features and will benefit from appropriate and ongoing EAL support (Yates, de Courcy and Nicholas 2007).

Parents need to be aware that:
  • English language development does take time
  • Each child will learn at their own rate; it is unwise to compare with other children, even your own
  • Ongoing EAL support is usually required even after a child appears to display oral fluency. This is why UISG has an extensive EAL teacher support network, offered from K - Year 12.

Many schools develop their programmes around the needs of native English speakers, without sufficient EAL support. In this environment, an EAL learner will usually be disadvantaged and is likely to learn across all subjects at a reduced rate.


Can the school ensure that my child only uses English while at school?

As a school, we encourage the use of English inside and outside the classroom, as appropriate. However, UISG has one of the most extensive mother tongue programmes because we believe/know that learning in the mother tongue language can profoundly accelerate the development of language ability in the additional language (English)..

This is ture because:
  • language skills transfer from mother tongue to the additional language
  • learning within mother tongue provides knowledge of the world that makes additional language texts more comprehensible and fosters cultural identity
  • the pleasure of the reading habit itself transfers to the additional language (Krashen 2004)

Senior students departing UISG, with a bi-lingual Diploma, are highly sought after by universities in their home countries. Our evidence indicates that students returning to Korea and Japan perform exceptionally well in national university entrance examinations because the IB programmes equip them with the skills to complete assessments with varied requirements. In 2015, six students have been offered scholarships to national universities in Korea and Japan.


Why do students learning the local curriculum appear to be developing     their mother tongue language skills more rapidly than my child??

UISG students are immersed in an English language learning environment.

Children learn their mother tongue language during timetabled lessons only and the time allocation increases as they progress from PYP to MYP and then into the DP. Therefore, children are not learning subject-specific vocabulary and concepts in their mother tongue. However, as stated previously, UISG students consistently achieve outstanding results in the IB Diploma language subjects and successfully enroll in the best universities, including in their home countries, every year.

Our students are equipped with the language skills that allow them to compete very successfully with students completing the local curriculum.

Our IB DP students have additional skills that the universities desire and pursue when reviewing university applications.


The mother tongue programme assigns 3 teaching hours each week. Is     this enough?

UISG is continually reviewing its approach to all programmes, including mother tongue languages. As an IB World School, offering PYP, MYP and the DP, it is important to approach language learning within the specified curriculum framework. A real strength our programme is the  collaboration between our homerooms and language classes, where the same ideas are explored in both. Our language teachers understand the need to balance learning that addresses the unit of inquiry with the important language features and cultural elements that are special to their specific language.

Based on the current scheduling arrangement, an increase in mother tongue lessons would require a corresponding decrease in the English medium learning. An area we aim to improve in the short term is how to minimise interruptions to the current language scheduling.

Our evidence indicates that students moving through the school to complete the IB Diploma achieve exceptionally well, enabling them to enroll in national universities. This is because the skills developed progressively from the PYP to the MYP and finally the DP are carefully sequenced to ensure students reach the appropriate levels in order to pursue their language at university.


Apart from classroom learning, what other resources does the school     provide to support a good mother tongue programme. Is the qualification     of the mother tongue teachers appropriate?

The priority across the whole school is to provide a balanced learning programme, using English as the language of instruction. We know that families choose UISG due to the broad range of experiences on offer. Our mother tongue programme enables students to develop into emotionally secure individuals, connected to their family's culture and with a firm sense of their identity. We believe that the preservation of a child's cultural identity is the key to his/her success. We are aware that some families choose to pursue additional learning opportunities outside of school hours. As a school, we would support them to make appropriate choices.

Our language teachers are qualified and extremely experienced teachers. All UISG teachers receive extensive professional development opportunities that support general teaching approaches and specific language learning styles. As a result of this exposure to a wide variety of educational ideas, teaching techniques and strategies, our teachers are highly skilled when compared to their peers in their national education systems.


If I wish my child to attend a university in the US or UK, should I place my     child in a US or British curriculum school.

Universities all around the world, including the US, UK and Hong Kong (where many UISG students apply), prefer IB Diploma students, which means students attending UISG have a distinct advantage.

Universities have found that IB students:
  • develop a greater range of skills; the extended essay equips students with the ability to write a university standard research paper. Consequently, many IB Diploma graduates receive credits and are offered second year subjects when enrolling
  • have greater independent learning skills; universities expect students to be independent in order to find solutions for themselves
  • embrace campus life and contribute more to campus programmes. Consequently, they gain more life skills through varied experiences
  • have greater perseverance. More IB students, compared to students completing other curriculum programmes, remain at university to complete their chosen course

Additionally, British/IGCSE/A Level and US curricula tend to be far more content-oriented and can be quite restrictive or limited in the subject offerings for students. IB students are required to complete a BALANCED programme:

SIX subjects ensure BREADTH of study, including:
  1. Mother tongue language
  2. Additional language
  3. At least one Science (option of two)
  4. At least one Humanities (option of two)
  5. Mathematics
  6. Option of Art, Music, Drama, third language, second Science/Humanities
Three Higher Level (university level) and three Standard Level subjects ensure DEPTH:
Extended Essay (4,000 words) RESEARCH SKILLS
Creativity, Activity, Service PERSONAL GROWTH
Theory of Knowledge KNOWLEDGE ISSUES

Students entering Year 11 are often uncertain of the direction they wish to take when enrolling in universities. The broad subject base of the IB Diploma means that students have many options. IB DP graduates also enroll in universities with a broader skill base that results in a greater success rate.



References:

Cummins, J. (1996). Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a diverse society. Ontario, CA : California Association for Bilingual Education.

Yates, L., de Courcy, M. and Nicholas, H. (2007, April) The complex mix of social and cognitive influences in the course of English language development among three age groups of Iraqi refugees. Paper presented at the conference, 'Social and Cognitive Aspects of Second Language Learning and Teaching', hosted by the University of Auckland, April 11-14, 2007.

Krashen, S. (2004) The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research. Heinemann. Portsmouth.