Language in the MYP is divided into two different subject groups – Language and Literature in which students will analyze, organize and produce written work, and Language Acquisition – a course for students to acquire a language through reading, writing, oral and visual texts.
At ISB we offer Language and Literature courses in English and Italian and Language Acquisition courses in English, French, Italian and Spanish (French offered with a minimum class size of four students as of the 2014/15 academic year).
Placement in Language Subject Groups
The Language and Literature curriculum is a demanding one which follows students through IB set objectives and assessment criteria. Therefore, only students fully ready for this programme will enter into this course.
The Language Acquisition curriculum aims to develop students’ reading, writing, oral and visual communication – building on students’ existing skills and filling any ‘gaps’ students may have in their reading, oral or written work.
How are students placed in the Language Subject Groups?
In May of Grade 5, the language team, alongside the MYP Coordinator, analyzes each student individually considering their MAC Test results, PYP assessments, PM Bench Mark Assessments (where applicable), ISA results and First Steps Writing Assessments. Taking all this into account students will be placed into a suitable class.
Students meeting all criteria for Phase 4 level of the Language Acquisition Continuum for English will automatically be placed in the Language and Literature Class. Students working at Phase 6 of the Language Acquisition Continuum for Italian will automatically be placed in the Language and Literature Class. This is explained further below.
Students placed in Language Acquisition may move into a Language and Literature course throughout the year depending on their development across all areas of language. There may be cases when students from Language and Literature move into Language Acquisition.
New students to ISB are assessed using the MAC test and Testo D’Ingresso for Italian, alongside information from previous school reports, to ensure a fair and accurate placement of the student into the correct subject group.
Following the Language Meeting in May, all grade 5 parents will be informed of the placement of their child with an explanation for the school’s decision where appropriate. There may be special cases within language placement where external factors are taken into consideration. However all decisions on language placement are made by ISB teachers and not parental preference.
MYP Criteria in the Language Subject Groups
The Language and Literature Course is designed for students who have an excellent grasp of the language and therefore all objectives and assessment criteria are the same for each student. However in Language Acquisition, students acquire language at different rates. Therefore to enable teachers to monitor progress accurately, the IB has categorized language learning into 6 phases. Each phase has its own objectives and assessment criteria and teachers plan for each of the phases within their class.
Transition from Language Acquisition to Language and Literature – Grade 6-Grade 8
At ISB Spanish and French are offered at Language Acquisition level only and therefore students may progress to Phase 6 of the continuum and teachers plan for this accordingly through differentiated instruction.
Students placed in Language Acquisition for English may exit the programme only when they have achieved Phase 4 in all four areas of the curriculum and ensuring this best meets the student’s language needs. This means that whilst a student may be strong in speaking, if their written work does not match a phase 4 level, the student will remain in Language Acquisition to develop the necessary skills. It is the responsibility of the teacher, alongside the MYP Coordinator, to ensure planning encourages development through the phases and that appropriate assessments gauge the student’s accurate level.
Students placed in Language Acquisition Italian may exit the programme at the end of Phase 6 and enter Language and Literature Italian ensuring that they meet all criteria. This difference in phase exit is due to the demands of the Italian Literature Programme and the History of Literature curriculum which requires a level of language acquisition that matches that of a confident phase 6 student. Once a student is working at phase 6 level, all transition procedures followed are the same as for a phase 4 student in the Language Acquisition English programme (see above).
Language Placement in Grade 11 and Grade 12
The pathway for Languages in the Diploma Programme is a complex one and therefore placing students in the correct class is essential. Taking this into account, in Grade 11 students will be able to exit the English Language Acquisition class once all Phase 5 criteria has been met. Students in Grade 12 will be able to exit the English Language Acquisition class when they have met all criteria for Phase 6. Exit from the Italian Programme will remain at Phase 6.
English Support (ESL Support)
The school’s working language is English and therefore a good command of the English language is essential in order to access the MYP curriculum as a whole. Therefore all students placed in Language Acquisition at Phase 1 or 2 for English will take extra ESL sessions during Spanish or French classes. This is to provide extra support for students to ensure they move accordingly through the phases. For students in Phase 3 and 4 of Language Acquisition, learning a new language at this point can be helpful in terms of understanding grammatical structures and considering ways in which language is developed. Therefore students in Phase 3 and 4 of Language Acquisition English will select from the Spanish or French class. No student studying in Language and Literature will be eligible for ESL support. This requirement will be enforced from the 2015/16 academic year.