Language Programmes

ISA believes that language is at the heart of learning and acknowledges that language acquisition and development is crucial for exploring and sustaining cultural identity, personal development, and intercultural understanding. As an IB World school, such concepts are closely linked to our mission to provide an education for international understanding.

ISA believes that students should be able to achieve the benefits of additive bilingualism i.e. acquiring a second language with little to no detriment to the development of their first language. This can be achieved when students maintain and develop their mother tongue in speaking, listening, reading and writing. Wherever feasible, ISA thus encourages students to study their mother tongue in addition to English.

As English is the language of instruction, ISA recognises the need for a programme that enables students to achieve full competence in this language. At ISA, all members of the faculty recognise their role as language teachers and acknowledge their responsibility to respond creatively and purposefully to the challenges presented to them by a multilingual and multicultural classroom.

ISA believes that learning an additional language allows students to understand different cultures and perspectives and thus become responsible global citizens. Students deserve the opportunities to study additional languages, including the host country language, as appropriate.

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Many students join ISA with limited English language abilities. Our teachers are experienced in working with children with different levels of English and these students also receive support from an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher.

Lower School

EAL students are taken out of the classroom on a regular basis to have intensive language instruction in small groups, or the EAL teacher may work with them within their homeroom class, until their English proficiency is of a level where they no longer require additional support.

Upper School

Special English as an Additional Language (EAL) classes are provided in grades 6 to 10 for students whose mother tongue language is not English. The aim of the EAL programme is to provide students with language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and presenting), learning strategies and support that will enable them to integrate successfully, socially and academically, into ISA.

EAL students are tested on intake and given varying levels of support depending on whether they are at Elementary, Intermediate or Transition level. Elementary and Intermediate students may progress to the next level of EAL at the end of a semester and Transition students may exit the programme at the end of a school year. More information on these levels can be found in the ISA Handbook and the ISA Language Policy.

Mother Tongue Language Programme

A “mother-tongue language” is a language that a child uses consistently at home and that they have age-appropriate fluency. As our societies become more multi-cultural and multi-lingual, an increasing number of children are growing up with more than one mother-tongue language. Because mother tongue language development is critical to a child’s development, ISA provides a range of opportunities for children to continue developing their mother tongue.

Lower School

In the Lower School, children have the opportunity to expand their languages through two programmes: 1) regular classroom lessons in English, Dutch and/or French and 2) the Lower School Language Academy (see Language Academy below).

Children in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten who are already proficient in English learn the language of our host country – Dutch – as an additional language. Dutch classes for this age group focus on the cultural aspects of living in The Netherlands, including songs and stories, traditions, festivals and daily life.

All students from grades 1 to 5 study Dutch as an additional language with three sessions a week. EAL beginner students in their first year at ISA take a Dutch Culture class, in English, once a week, which introduces the language and the culture of the host country, whilst still supporting their English development. Students in their first year at ISA will be enrolled in the Dutch programme in order to learn about the host country culture, as well as being introduced to the local host language. Students from grade 2 onwards can opt to take French as an alternative to Dutch after their first full year of Dutch instruction at ISA. However, Dutch passport holders are required by law to take Dutch as their additional language.

Upper School - Middle Years Programme (Grades 6 - 10)

To continue nurturing and developing Middle Years Programme students’ mother tongue languages, ISA offers Language A classes as part of the regular school program in Dutch, English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.

For students with a mother-tongue language other than those noted above, tutored classes can be arranged. In this arrangement, the mother-tongue coordinator works with the family to find a suitable tutor. Mother-tongue languages classes currently running are Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Danish, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Russian, and Swedish.

Upper School - Diploma Programme (Grades 11 -12)

In the final two years of secondary education, ISA offers Language A as part of the set school program in Dutch, English, and Japanese. For the student who wishes to present a different language A as part of her/his IB Diploma program, ISA offers school-supported self-taught literature. This option is available at the standard level only. Instruction for the school supported self-taught option is delivered through two instructors.

– School supported self-taught Coordinator (SSST Coordinator) provides support and assistance in understanding the demands of the program and the assessments. The students will have an assigned class for meeting with the self-taught coordinator.

– The tutor, a specialist in the literature of the language studied, helps the student understand the literature and works with the student to develop her/his writing/communication skills in the language studied. The student and the tutor meet regularly.

The mother-tongue coordinator works with the family to find a suitable tutor. The cost of the tuition is paid by the family, and the family may be eligible for a rebate if conditions apply. For details, please contact the mother tongue coordinator.

ISA provides mother-tongue language classes as an additional service; as such, the tutor’s fee is an additional cost. For details, please contact the mother tongue coordinator.

Lower School Language Academy

The Lower School Language Academy began as a way to support children’s mother tongue languages.

If your child has a mother-tongue language other than English and you are interested in maintaining and developing your child’s mother tongue, perhaps the Language Academy is of interest to you. ISA provides the Lower School Language Academy for maintaining and further developing children’s mother-tongues. Lessons take place outside of the regular school day and are part of the extra-curricular activities.

Lessons strive to be fun learning experiences, nurturing a child’s mother-tongue development as well as providing enjoyable language opportunities to stimulate and encourage a child’s mother-tongue language use and growth. Language Academy classes take place after school once a week for one hour. The classes strive to be fun learning experiences. For an effective learning environment, it is important that all students in a class are of a similar linguistic proficiency level.

Classes begin three times a year, with each session running approximately 10 weeks.

Session 1: Early September-late November

Session 2: late November-March

Session 3: March-early June

The Language Academy is offered as part of ISA’s extra-curricular program and as such an extra fee is charged to cover the cost of the lessons. Parents are invoiced per session by the business office.

ISA Language Policy

ISA’s Language Policy outlines the school’s core commitments towards language development and acquisition. The complete ISA Language Policy is available to read in our community portal – MyISA.

Mother Tongue Programme

If you would like more information about our Mother Tongue Languages programme, please contact the ISA Mother Tongue Coordinator.

Lower School Language Academy

If you would like more information about Lower School Language Academy, please contact the ISA Lower School Language Academy Coordinator.