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English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Our school’s EAL Department is committed to supporting all students whose native language is not English by ensuring they have full access to the curriculum taught, and are confidently progressing with their English language skills in all areas. Our program also strives to educate our whole community about the language acquisition process, as well as our philosophy and methodology for teaching language through content. We believe that the English language unites our community, and that learning it is a lifelong process for everyone.

Philosophy

At ISL, we believe that by modeling our own language learning, facilitating a school culture that values persistence and progress rather than perfection, we are able to create a comfortable environment for studying and mastering new languages.  Students are challenged in each class to communicate well, take appropriate risks, show caring, and be respectful. Through these key elements of the IB Learner Profile, it is possible for all students to thrive as language learners. At each level, we believe a student’s native language needs to be maintained for heritage and literacy purposes. A strong foundation in one’s native language is the best scaffold on which to build learning in other languages.

Methodology

The ultimate aim of our EAL program is to provide just enough support to learners of English so they may continue in their academic development across the whole curriculum. Upon matriculating at ISL, students are evaluated for English language level and proficiency in the domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Together with a thorough review of their application for admission, previous school records, an informal interview; and,  if deemed necessary, completion of theIDEA Language Proficiency Test (IPT) a determination is made to place students into the EAL support program who score at a proficiency level below  “Expanding” based on the WIDA Can-Do Level Descriptors (Original Edition).

At ISL, English is taught using a variety of methods which focus on teaching language through content, rather than on repetitive grammar drills and memorizing vocabulary. There are two models of language support that English learners receive, depending on individual needs, either “push-in” or “pull-out”:

EAL Push-in (Co-teaching)

The EAL specialist joins the content teacher in the regular classroom and assists both the teacher and students  in adapting the delivery of the content to support English languge learners in that classroom. Thus, language learning is contextualized into academic content. Students learn grammar, syntax, and academic vocabulary through genuine classroom contexts in each of their classes as a result of careful preparation and planning, with integrated co-teaching.

EAL Pull-out Classes

In Grades 1 to 10, in order to be successful accross the curriculum in academics, additional English language support is warranted for certain students. These students attend  English language support classes in place of studying Language B in the International Baccalaureate framework. These classes take the form of intensive and tailored language instruction, plus support for learning of other academic material within a small group setting. The EAL department works with teachers and students in and out of the regular classes, adapting to various individual needs. Such EAL support is intended to give students an intensive, shorter-term boost toward academic language proficiency in English. Each Spring term, all EAL pull-out students are reassessed, using various assessment data including testing and teacher evaluations to determine their needs for English language support in the following year. Students gradually transition from small group “pull-out” support to “push-in” support in classes to full independent learning. Students who exit the EAL program continue to be monitored to ensure that they are thriving and successful at making academic gains.

A Note about Language Acquisition

On average, language acquisition research consistently proves that it takes seven to nine years to learn a new language proficiently in both social and academic contexts. As teachers and parents, we need to remember to be patient with our students. We should look for steady progress rather than leaps forward. As students will often be exhausted when they begin this process, providing breaks at school and extra sleep at home are crucial components to their success. It is important to note that learners often experience a period of silence and varying emotional stages associated with being immersed in a language new to them. With patience, time, and practice, progress is sure to come.

Click here for a list of things you can do at home to support your child’s English language learning.

If you have any questions about ISL’s EAL program, please feel free to contact Veronika Kozel, EAL Coordinator, at vkozel@isl.edu.lv

 

Meet Our Team!

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Nora Karr, PYP EAL Teacher

M.A., Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, School for International Training, Vermont, USA

B.A., Art/English, Fort Lewis College, Colorado, USA

Teaching License, English as a Second Language, PreK-12; Visual Arts, PreK-12 Visual Arts

Previously, I've taught at international schools in Lebanon, Thailand, Japan and most recently, the Philippines.

Teaching Philosophy: I believe that students learn best in an environment where they feel safe to make mistakes as they progress with learning another language.

Fun Fact: I enjoy volunteering at an animal shelter on the weekends.

 

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Veronika Kozel, EAL Coordinator; PYP  EAL support,  DP English B, and PYP French B Teacher

M.Ed., Curriculum and Instruction, George Mason University, Virginia, USA

B.Sc., Languages and Linguistics, Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA

Teaching License, English as an Additional Language  Pre-K-12, French Language, German Language, Commonwealth of Virginia, USA

Previously, I’ve taught in Prague, Belgium and the United States.

Teaching philosophy:  I believe that everyone can learn. The learning environment, motivation of the learner, creativity of the instructor as well as an open, culturally sensitive and adaptive curriculum are the tools to achieve that goal in the quickest time possible.

 

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Jason Melgaard, EAL Teacher

M.A. Masters of Global Studies, University of Denver: Graduate School of International Studies                                                                                         

B.A. University of Colorado-Boulder: Bachelor of Arts in English: Creative Writing

Teacher Certification in Secondary English; University of Colorado-Boulder

Teaching philosophy: For me, teaching is all about developing relationships that encourage students to explore their interests and discover unlimited possibilities.

 

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Rita Vaciete, EAL Teacher

M.A., English Linguistics, University of Latvia, Latvia

Teaching philosophy: I believe that besides teaching, teachers should inspire kids to embrace challenges and find joy and self-worth through their achievement.

Fun fact: I like to do sports, especially a bit extreme and fast ones, like snowboarding and inline skating. :)

 

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Zaiga Miķelsone, EAL Teacher

M.A., English Philology, University of Latvia, Latvia

B.S.P., English Philology, University of Latvia, Latvia

CELTA Teaching Certificate, IH Satva Riga, Latvia

Teaching philosophy: Best results can be reached if students are motivated. How can you motivate them? Make the learning experience  as student-centered as possible while showing positive attitude and enthusiasm.

Fun fact: My favorite language component is phonology. Did you know that there are nine different ways to pronounce ‘ough’ in English. This sentence contains all of them: A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.

 

Online Language Resources for Students and Parents

Below are a variety of EAL study and learning materials. Many of these also include learning tips and techniques for improving overall reading and learning.

For Young Students and Beginning Learners:

For Older Students of All Levels:

  • ESL Gold http://www.eslgold.com/ has a wide array of online practice activities and exercises.
  • Dave’s ESL Café http://www.eslcafe.com/ offers many resources to help, including every student’s favourite phrasal verbs, slang and grammar tips. You can also engage in the forum with other English language students and practice your English by joining in with one of the many discussions.
  • The Learn English Site from the British Council http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/ offers downloadable podcasts, games, academic writing help and an IELTS section.  You can also download free apps for your iPhone or iPad.
  • ESL Point http://www.eslpoint.com offers graded help in all the skills.  There are many online practice exercises with clear explanations.  There is also a TOEFL/TOEIC section with online material and quizzes.