This post is also available in: Русский (Russian) Кыргызча (Kyrgyz)
SRIS integrates new students from local schools quickly with CLIL and an intensive English program.
This academic year SRIS has seen a large increase in sign-ups. Many students joined us from previously visiting Kyrgyz or Russian language schools, with a low level of English. Our Intensive English Language Program for new students addresses this most effectively.
In the past these students would organically learn the language. We just had to integrate them in our regular classes. Due to all our lessons being in English students usually acquire the necessary English skills within a year. As an additional help, these students receive extra English tutoring lessons. We conducted these ESL lessons individually or in small groups.
This year however, we had so many sign-ups in Middle School, that this approach did not work anymore. The new students had difficulties following in Math, Science and other subjects due to their undeveloped English skills. It was frustrating for both students and teachers.
A new approach: Intensive English Learning Class
Our well trained and experienced teachers noticed this changed class dynamic immediately and brought it to my attention.
During our discussion it became obvious that unless these student’s English skills were further developed, Math and Science lessons would be fruitless and a waste of time.
We addressed this issue by instantly forming a special Intensive Learning English Class. This concept was built as a temporary academic intervention with the purpose of raising the children’s English skills in a very short time, so they could be integrated into the regular class and follow each subject with success. The integration into the regular class happens as soon as possible, within the running school year.
This concept worked even better than we expected. Within the first four month already eight children could be moved to the regular class and are now performing at class level in all subjects. The special attention was well invested as these students make up for the lost subject lessons very quickly now. Their understanding of the classes is solid and their success motivates them to develop their English further.
Individual Learning Approach
Students’ English skills are assessed weekly and teachers adjust their teaching plans to the current level of the class. If needed each student received individual support.
As soon as a student shows the necessary English skills to follow the regular class, they are transferred the following week. Our subject teachers provide extra support and individual homework assignments to help the ‘English Intensive Students’ to catch up with the subject knowledge of the class.
This intervention shows great results in Math and Science, but has even more impact on subjects that require a good command of the English language to even follow the lesson.
In Social Sciences, like Geography and World History, students learn to comprehend and critically analyze complex text based information. After our Intensive English Program, students are able to follow these lessons and produce good answers in the text based test formats. Subjects that were highly frustrating to students with low English levels, became their favorite subjects after the Intensive English Program.
How the English Intensive Class was organized
To create time for additional English lessons, social sciences and the 2nd local language are temporarily dropped in the English Intensive Class. It is impossible to follow Geography and History without a good command of the English language. And since the students are already struggling with learning English, it is not reasonable to expect them to develop another language at the same time.
In the English Intensive Class the students focus completely on English. Instead of just ‘English’ as one subject, they receive:
- English Grammar
- English Reading
- English Talking
- English Writing
- an once a week: English Examination and Assessment
But we go further. Mathematics and Science avoids difficult formulas and hard science and focuses on the vocabulary of Math and Science. This is a prerequisite to be able to follow the regular subject lessons, ones the students are integrated back into the regular class. When this happens, the students receive extra support to catch up with the formulas and the hard science, which they missed during the English Intensive Course.
Since students need an occasional break from dedicated English lessons, we also teach ICT and Geography. But also these teachers are instructed to concentrate on building vocabulary and language skills in the form of CLIL, which stands for Content and Language Integrated Learning.
Since we cannot neglect the development of their first local language, these lessons are performed as it would be in the regular class. The second local language will be immediately reinstalled, once the student has mastered a sufficient level of English. Since by then English is not an obstacle anymore, they can effectively give the other local language the attention it deserves.
Positive Parent Feedback
The parents for these new students gave us great feedback. The program helped their child to accept the new school and find friends easily. The quick development of their English skills brought a feeling of achievement and made them love their new school.
Many parents asked me ‘How much do we have to pay extra?’ and were surprised that Silk Road International School offers this special program without any extra costs to the regular school fee.
Extending the reach
We already see strong registrations for the next academic year over all grades, including our Primary school. The Intensive English learning program works so successfully, that we decided to offer it for 4th and 5th grade as well in the next academic year.
For grades one to three our traditional approach, as described above, is still working fine. Children organically learn English within one year. Most primary students join us with no or low English skills and our program is designed to to meet their needs and acquire the language in a playful and fun way.
But starting 4th grade we start to see a significant split between students that are already with us for years, many since grade one, and students that join in 4th or 5th grade.
To make the transition to an English school system easier for these students, we will be offering a special Intensive English Class for students joining us in Primary from Kyrgyz or Russian language schools.