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Innovative Spaces at UWCSEA: Primary Languages Rooms

Margaret Chhoa-Howard, Primary EAL Coordinator, UWCSEA Dover
Pilar Jiménez, Head of Home Languages and Teacher of Spanish, Dover Campus
28 March 2019

For many families in our multilingual community, the challenge of maintaining fluency and skill in their child’s mother tongue (home language), while simultaneously wanting them to thrive in a demanding learning programme delivered largely in English, is a familiar one.

Fortunately, there is a natural synergy between helping families find this balance and the mission-driven focus created by the strand Education as a Force: Diversity and Inclusion within the 2018–2023 UWCSEA Strategic Plan. The evolution and expansion of our language programmes on both campuses is one part of fulfilling this aim. On Dover Campus, welcoming and well-resourced classrooms serve as a hub for Primary EAL and HLP students.

Read about how this will be expanded next year, including introducing EAL in the Primary School on East Campus.

UWCSEA's expanding EAL and Home Languages programmes, which includes the introduction of an EAL programme.

A - Home Language Programme: Personalised, small-group classes are offered by qualified teachers after school or during lunchtimes, with an aim to develop and support biliteracy skills for mother tongue speakers. The lessons support students to maintain and develop their home language skills at age-appropriate levels. In  K1 to Grade 1 the focus in on maintaining or expanding a students exposure to their home language in an environment other than home. A particular focus on developing the literacy skills of reading and writing is introduced from Grade 2. For older students, the programme is intended to assist them maintain a level of proficiency that may allow them to move into advanced classes in Middle School or the SSST course in High School at either Grade 9 or Grade 11. It may also assist students who aim to study for a bilingual IB Diploma to maintain a level of language learning to access a relevant IBDP course.

Launched in August 2018, there are now 11 HLP languages on Dover and 16 on East, based on community demand. The HLP is part of UWCSEA's language programme, which includes courses for advanced (mother tongue/home language), foreign and beginner language learners.

B - Parent engagement: Building a strong sense of community that includes parents is an integral part of the success of our programmes. This is accomplished through activities such as coffee mornings and guest speaker events.

C - English as an Additional Language (EAL): A Primary EAL programme, piloted on Dover Campus since 2017, will be introduced on East Campus in August 2019. Both campuses will support EAL students from K–12 within the school day, with specialist teachers helping develop English literacy skills for those who speak English as a second, third or even fourth language. Teachers across the curriculum also work to support learners in their acquisition of English, as the language of instruction. 

D - Extended language resources: We have extended the language resources available in our libraries and learning spaces as well as stocked the specialist classrooms with language resources to support our personalised curriculum.

E - Specialist teachers:  UWCSEA's languages programmes are delivered by qualified teachers who deliver personalised programmes based on the needs of their learners.