Current research in the field of language acquisition overwhelmingly shows that academic achievement is consistently enhanced, particularly in lower grades, when new language learning is done in parallel with the home language, rather than only in place of the child’s original mother tongue. School-based support for language development in both the main language of instruction as well as mother tongue has far-reaching benefits, including those in emotional, social and academic areas. For example, students will find it easier to discuss classroom content and lessons with their families, students will understand similar linguistic structures (like nouns, adjectives, tenses, etc.) across multiple languages, and students will strengthen their sense of cultural identity while better understanding others.
The greater the sophistication of a child`s mother tongue knowledge, the easier it is for them to learn new languages. Children who have a solid foundation in their mother tongue, develop better literacy skills in all other languages that they learn. When parents and other important adults have time to discuss and read in the child’s mother tongue, and thus help expand the child’s vocabulary, the child will be better prepared for school and will more easily learn new languages. Children’s knowledge and skills transfer across languages. Skills learned in the mother tongue will transfer to the other languages learned in school, as long as all languages are supported.
Beginning in the Fall of 2017, a Mother Tongue Academic Support Program will begin in Pre-3, Pre-4, Kindergarten, and Grade 1 at ISL. The program will be offered in both Latvian & Russian. Students will receive three sessions per week of instruction in these two languages, to supplement their regular classroom instruction. Lessons will focus on their IB Unit of Inquiry, as well as reading and literacy support.
Students whose Mother Tongue is other than Latvian or Russian will have an opportunity to take Latvian As A Non-Native Language, or can arrange to use this as tutoring time in school with resource teachers the parents bring in, to maintain connections with home country curriculum and language learning standards.
As in Elementary School, students who do not wish to select a `Language B`course option that is currently offered have the option to arrange individual tutoring, online or distance learning classes in their mother tongue during the school day. (Currently three students are pursuing distance courses in their mother tongue, Swedish, German and Lithuanian, so they may maintain an age-appropriate level of sophistication and grade level achievement on the national curriculum of their country.)
There are two paths to earn a bilingual diploma at ISL. The first is when students choose to study their mother tongue as a `self taught`course for Language A (group 1), English as their Language B (group 2) and they complete their Extended Essay in English. The second option is when students choose two Language A options, one in English and one in their mother tongue.
Viktorija Kalanepa, Russian Mother Tongue
Dace Lakse, Latvian Mother Tongue
The new Mother Tongue Coordinator for this program will be Ms. Veronika Kozel, who is also our EAL Coordinator. She will assist all of our ISL families in understanding this initiative. She can be reached for questions anytime through email at VKozel@isl.edu.lv.