Language Learning at JIS
At JIS, language is central to all learning. As well as our focus on learning and development through English, we reflect our I.B. heritage by reinforcing the importance of learning other languages. At JIS, students can learn Mandarin or Japanese and we also respect other languages known to our community but not actively taught within our school.
Language requires context for true meaning and function to be understood, therefore, at JIS we are committed to providing a range of purposes, situations and audiences for its development. At JIS, as an integral part of our commitment to the PYP, we plan for speaking, listening, reading, writing, viewing and presenting (media literacy) activities within our language programme.
At JIS we believe that development in language is best achieved by; learning language, learning through language and learning about language.
Our language teaching is supported by our Scope and Sequence document which gives a developmental framework of conceptual understandings and learning objectives in reading, writing, speaking and listening and viewing and presenting.
Where possible, language is integrated into our Programme of Inquiry, but it is also taught as ‘stand-alone’. Purposeful inquiry is at the core of all our language teaching. Students analyse language though authentic literature, they read for meaning and develop independence in the writing process.
We use Reading Recovery Guidelines and a range of differentiated texts to support reading. Groupings are flexible, accounting for different reading needs to be addressed. We use Get Reading Right as a resource for the introduction of phonics and pre-reading skills. A multi-sensory approach is used and phonics instruction is differentiated according to the children’s needs. Phonics instruction is applied to authentic reading situations. Letter formation skills are taught starting in Reception and are then further developed in other classes. Students are encouraged to develop a legible, cursive style of handwriting in English as they progress through the school. The writing of characters is taught in Mandarin and Japanese lessons starting in P1 and P2. Spelling is taught through individualised and group programmes in all years, supported by word study inquiry and a variety of materials including ‘Words Their Way.’ The application of spelling into everyday writing and the understanding of how language works is the ultimate goal. For writing activities, we encourage a range of approaches and use ‘First Steps’ (Aus) as a framework from which to structure inquiries into purposes of writing and associated skills, comprehension and grammar.
Additional Languages at JIS
Language learning at JIS is an integral part of everything we do. As an international school, many of our students are familiar with several languages at a very young age. All of our staff recognise their role as language teachers and role models for learning in English, Japanese or Mandarin. As part of our commitment to our curriculum framework - PYP (Primary Years Programme) all of our students study an extra language as well as studying in English. We offer Mandarin and Japanese taught by native speaking teachers for 4 sessions of 45 minutes each week (P1 – P6) and Reception 2 times per week from Term 2 onwards.
Our languages programme is developed alongside the school Programme of Inquiry, which has different Units of Inquiry for each year level. Many of our Units of Inquiry are linked to the students’ studies in Mandarin and Japanese to help the children learn through a meaningful context. Each language also has a specific set of requirements and skills that are taught at each age level.
In the Mandarin Class students will actively learn the four basic skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in Chinese. For Mandarin beginners, the major objective will be to build up their vocabulary to enable them to converse in Mandarin. Students will learn practical and useful phrases for every day life. Learning experiences are developed to suit their age and the ability of students.
Classes in Mandarin and Japanese are differentiated. Sometimes the students work in ‘first language’ and/or ‘additional language’ groups and sometimes students work in mixed groupings according to the learning engagement. Lessons can be differentiated according to the content (for example, different expectation of vocabulary); process (how the children learn); product (how the children demonstrate their learning) and environment (resources and structures used to support).
Apart from the 4 basic skills, all students will have the opportunity to expand their understanding of Chinese culture by participating in related cultural activities in the classroom and around school. These festivals are celebrated according to the Chinese cultural calendar.
Depending on their level, students will receive homework activities which will include revising vocabulary and simple sentence structures, reading, keeping a diary and short story or descriptive writing.
The main objective of the Japanese programme for non-Japanese children is to develop in the students a desire to understand and learn some of the basics of the Japanese language. The emphasis is put on oral participation by using pictures, cards, models, and objects to increase their understanding. As the students progress, more reading and writing will be practiced in the upper primary grades.
The other key objective of the Japanese programme for Japanese speaking children is to continue to improve upon their ability to speak, listen, write and read Japanese and to develop their overall Japanese skills. These lessons are taught using mainly the ‘KOKUGO’ textbooks, which are used in regular Japanese schools.
Depending on their level, students will receive homework activities which will include revising vocabulary and simple sentence structures, reading, keeping a diary and short story or descriptive writing. The Japanese class assistant will also support different group levels (Japanese ‘first language’ and Japanese ‘additional language’) to allow for greater differentiation within the classes.
Language Support and English as an Additional Language at JIS:
Language and EAL support is given to some students at JIS who need extra assistance in developing their skills in English. These support sessions are planned within and alongside the classroom activities and units of inquiry. To ensure that the needs of the students are supported in the best way possible, some support is given in the mainstream classroom, some is given in groups and some may be given on a one to one or partnership basis. These sessions are timetabled as part of the students’ weekly programme and students enter or leave the groups when they are ready.
Ms Glenda Bailie and Ms Angie Bilbow provide language support to a range of students and have regular planning meetings with class teachers to ensure there is continuity between the support programme and class based activities, ensuring that they can support the children in confidently accessing the curriculum in their own classroom. Language Support is also offered to some of our students who are stronger English speakers but who find aspects of grammar, sentence construction or spelling rather challenging. These sessions are also managed by Ms Bailie, Ms Bilbow and the class teachers and are designed to give a boost to the students in developing more confidence in their writing and/or reading skills.