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Swigert School Language Policy

Updated May 2014

Swigert International School Language Policy

Language is fundamental to learning, thinking and communicating, and permeates the whole curriculum. It is necessary not only to learn language, but also learn about language and through language.  Learning best takes place in authentic contexts, and literature plays a special role in enabling this to happen. The strands of oral, written and visual communication are learned across and throughout the subject areas.   – IBO 2007, Making the PYP Happen: A Curriculum Framework for International Primary Education pg. 68

 

At Swigert International School we believe: 

We believe that language development, over time, allows our students increasing access to their world through the major areas of communication: 

  • Written communication-reading and writing 
  • Oral communication-speaking and listening
  • Visual language-viewing, creating and presenting
  • Second language development.

The teaching and learning of language is based on the belief that these areas of communication allow us to express, convey, explore, reinforce and expand our own ideas, perspectives, cultures as well as allowing us to listen to and better understand  one another. We strive to foster our students’ ability to think and express their ideas clearly, creatively and confidently in a multitude of settings. 

 

Language Practices:

Language of Instruction:

  • The primary language of instruction is English
  • Students whose first language is not English receive support in English Language Acquisition

 

Written Language

Reading

Reading instruction happens on a daily basis. Teachers approach teaching using a variety of practices and strategies including the use of mentor texts, small group work, guided reading, independent reading, shared reading as well as literature discussions. Reading is incorporated into all subject areas, requiring students to read for a variety of purposes including reading for information, interest, understanding and pleasure. 

Teachers integrate their reader’s workshop model into the IB unit using authentic and rich texts aligned to their unit of study. 

Students who are struggling with reading work with their classroom teacher and a specially trained literacy specialist who can address gaps in skills to ensure appropriate support in meeting and exceeding grade level expectations.   

Writing

Writing instruction happens daily as well. Writing is a means by which to remember, develop, organize and communicate ideas, feelings, and information. As we teach writing we focus on purpose and audience for each piece of writing. Learning to write empowers students with a form of expression and communication of beliefs, ideas, experiences, opinions and information.  

Students work on many areas of writing over the year including developing voice, organization, details, utilizing evidence and supporting a claim, as well as spelling and conventions. 

As with writing, we have an interventionist who works with students and classroom teachers to support students who are struggling with developing their writing skills. 

 

Oral Communication

Oral language includes listening and speaking. Students are taught how to communicate with one another through accountable and purposeful talk. Students learn how to agree and disagree with one another respectfully, based on careful listening and synthesis of ideas. Students also have opportunities to experience social language including the language of play, conversations with peers and other social experiences. 

Students learn and practice how to listen to each other’s’ ideas respectfully and with conscious attention.  This skill helps ensure comprehension and students’ ability to construct meaning as well as to respond to one another’s thoughts, ideas, beliefs, feelings and information. 

Each grade level ECE-5 hosts, at the minimum, one public presentation of learning that provides an opportunity for students to teach their families about their unit of inquiry and new learning. This experience provides opportunities to develop and deepen students’ understanding and application of their units of study as well as hone their public presentation skills.

The school also focuses on STAR (Sitting up straight, Tracking the speaker, Asking and answering questions, Respectful behavior) as a means of teaching behavioral expectations around listening and speaking in the classroom, public spaces and assemblies as well as other venues. 

Visual Language

Visual language is a mode of communication associated with viewing and presenting images to communicate ideas. Students learn how to communicate using visual texts.  This is taught through modeling, teaching of a variety of modes of visual communication in our “Innovation Lab” and in the classroom settings.  

Second Language Development

Learning a second language helps promote an international culture and opens students’ eyes to new experiences, opportunities, cultures, relationships, ideas and information. Swigert staff and community value the opportunity to learn a second language and utilize it within the school, the city and the world. 

The second language offered at Swigert International School is Spanish. We believe that second language acquisition enriches personal growth as well as providing a mode of communication that opens up a larger world to our students. 

Swigert chose Spanish as the second language for our school based on the fact that there is a high percentage of Spanish speakers in the Denver area providing wonderful opportunities and resources to connect with a larger world community here in our city.

Students grades ECE-5 receive Spanish instruction as part of a five-subject specials rotation.