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Supporting English Language Learners (ELL)

At AIS, we understand the unique challenges facing our students as they work to learn in more than one language. We value the fact that our students are English Language Learners and look forward to the opportunity to support them in their growth as readers, writers, speakers and listeners.

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In our Primary Years Programme students begin in PK and Kindergarten with experiential and instructional play combined with academic standards and skills to form Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) along with foundations of Literacy. All areas of Literacy are incorporated within teachers' instructional planning for developmental learning through, and within, IB transdisciplinary Units. All teachers participate in language development and instruction.

Per the IB Primary Years Programme;

"Language learning is recognized as a developmental process where there are opportunities for students to build on prior knowledge and skills in order to help them progress to the next phase of language development."

In the PYP, we promote growth in students' primary languages, Arabic and English to ensure all students are working toward developing identity, cultural understanding, academic potential, and inquisitiveness toward life and learning. Through instructional practice, teachers guide students toward cognitive, academic language development. Students gain a variety of skills, strategies and conceptual knowledge as they strive to become competent, motivated, independent readers and writers. Embracing international awareness hinges on the view that multiple complex language profiles of our AIS community are positive resources for student learning.

When students enter the Middle Years Programme the focus shifts from learning to use language to using language to learn. This does not mean that students' journey as English Language Learners is complete – far from it – what this does mean is that we need to refine the ways in which we are supporting our students as they confront increasingly academic language. By working within the IB's recommended framework for Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), our teachers use students' prior knowledge and experience – including those in their mother tongue – in order to support our students development of both academic language and understanding.

Students may need differentiated support in the areas of vocabulary, comprehension of concepts, and the process of writing to meet their academic needs within the classroom. Teachers plan instruction accordingly through the use of modeling thinking explicitly, building background knowledge when introducing concepts, and providing learning opportunities to interact through listening, speaking, reading and writing within lessons to reinforce and encourage higher level thinking.