[lg policy] Ambrit Rome International School Language Policy

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 11 16:30:07 UTC 2011

Ambrit Rome International School
Language Policy

Statement of Philosophy

The purpose of this document is to express Ambrit’s policy on the role
of language in the school, to provide a framework for day-to-day
interaction amongst its members and to outline language programmes in
the school.  It is our goal that through the implementation of this
policy Ambrit students will be able to interact responsibly and
respectfully, with all members of the school community in order to
fulfil program aims as well as the school philosophy and to be able to
function on both social and academic levels to the fullest extent of
their language proficiency and potential.
This policy also reflects our commitment to promote cross-cultural
understanding within the school population and outlines how we plan to
do this.

At Ambrit we embrace Michael Halliday’s tenet that:
“In any meaningful language event, learners have the opportunity to
learn language, learn about language, and learn through language.”

Consequently we see these three processes taking place side by side,
not in isolation. Units of inquiry/learning provide the ideal
structure to bring this about as they generate countless opportunities
for language events that are cognitively demanding and engaging for

The following policy statements further affirm our commitment to and
understanding of our students’ language acquisition and their academic
learning across the curriculum and form the foundation of our
educational practice.

    We view on-going language development for all Ambrit students as
the responsibility of all teachers.
    We are familiar with the research on the variables of aptitude,
personality, attitude, motivation, and learning style, all of which
produce different rates of second language acquisition and ultimate
levels of bilingual attainment.
    We treat each student’s language development within the context of
our professional understanding and knowledge and recognise their
performance as a representation of their interlanguage.

This policy addresses the here and now of our school community but
also looks beyond those limits in space and time, as, inherent in the
policy statements is the awareness that we are preparing young people
for their future, independent lives in the outside world.

What we do

At Ambrit, English is the primary language of instruction whilst
Italian is maintained at grade level proficiency for native speakers
and taught as an additional language for non-native speakers. The two
languages are taught either as subjects or through subject matter
content, thereby developing both basic interpersonal communication
skills(BICS-the ability to communicate in an additional language) and
cognitive academic language proficiency(CALP-the ability to think and
to solve problems in the additional language) in both English and
Italian. The ultimate instructional goal is the attainment of
appropriate levels of proficiency in the two languages, taking into
account those variables, as stated above, which affect language
acquisition and development.

One advantage of this approach is that it promotes an appreciation of
cultural and linguistic diversity. Ambrit students transcend their own
cultural boundaries to become international and independent thinkers
and communicators.  Ambrit International School also values
bi/multilingualism among its students for the educational and
professional opportunities it may open up for them in a global

How we do it
Ambrit’s language programme is implemented in the following ways:

In the classroom:

    through classroom environment and strategies which provide
comprehensible input, such as:

    relating new material to students’ life experiences;
    drawing attention to key specialist vocabulary;
    using a variety of assessment tools and implementing interactive
group activities in an integrated curriculum;
    making high-level academic content instructionally comprehensible
(through the use of contextualisation strategies such as gestures,
visual aids, maps, graphs, manipulatives, drama, and songs);
    creating classroom environments that are discourse-rich and
process-oriented (plentiful opportunities for students to listen,
read, speak, and write through interactive strategies).

    through instructional strategies which specifically support
content-based language learning.

    We teach students to use active and experiential learning
strategies appropriate for linguistically and cognitively diverse
    We use specific instructional strategies for different kinds of
learners and take into account their different backgrounds.
    We teach and model language-learning strategies (metacognitive,
cognitive, and affective) to enable students to become self-directed
and self-regulated learners.
    We integrate language instruction with content instruction
(explicit attention is given to the syntactic and semantic features of
language in the design of lessons).
    We teach aspects of speech, word forms, language structures,
discourse and writing conventions explicitly or in the form of pop up
grammar as outlined in the language scope and sequence.
    We consider holistic performance more significant than knowledge
of discrete linguistic items (i.e. what students can do over what they
have memorised).
    We systematically keep track of the language acquisition of all
students and use this knowledge to help students overcome difficulties
and facilitate progress.

School-wide recommended practice

    We model metalinguistic learning strategies.
    We encourage methods of teaching and assessment that enable
students from diverse backgrounds to develop and demonstrate fully
their language proficiency (see also Ambrit Assessment Policy).
    We give ongoing feedback to students on their linguistic and
cognitive development through observation and measurement strategies.
    We hold high linguistic and academic expectations for all students.
    We involve parents in the linguistic and academic development of
their children.
    We recognise and support students’ linguistic and academic needs
and strengths.
    We create heterogeneous class groupings to ensure a broad language
and cultural mix and to facilitate language learning.
    We refer students who require additional support in their learning
to the student services team.
    We encourage dispositions needed for life in an international
world (e.g. empathy, flexibility, respect for others’ languages and
cultures through ongoing language study).
    We nurture a global perspective of cultural events not only in our
language classes, but also throughout our academic programmes.
    We appoint staff from various cultures.
    We address multi-cultural themes.
    We encourage the participation of diverse-culture representatives
in a decision-making capacity regarding social and cultural activities
through involvement with our parent association, ‘Friends of Ambrit’.

Beyond the classroom

    Language input outside the mainstream programme

Native speakers of English and Italian make progress in their first
languages and attain proficiency in their second languages. Students
coming from non-English or non-Italian backgrounds find themselves
immersed in both languages in the school and community.

Language acquisition is supported outside the classroom in the following ways:

    social integration into the school and community;
    the building of a positive self-image for each child;
    practising Italian, the host country language, in school and in
the local community, for example through field trips, by interacting
with guest speakers, and in community service;
    appreciation of mother tongue diversity, exploring similarities
and differences;
    promoting awareness of the diverse types of discourse and language
varieties found within the community.

    In the home

A number of parental actions will facilitate linguistic and academic
success for Ambrit’s students, whether or not they come from a
bilingual/multilingual background. They are:

    showing and maintaining a positive attitude towards learning
additional languages;
    developing and maintaining mother tongue literacy skills in the
home; associating closely with members of the language groups in
community activities;
    getting together with other parents to exchange ideas and reduce isolation;
    encouraging and supporting children’s additional language acquisition;
    supplying multilingual materials in the home e.g. bilingual dictionaries;
    keeping informed about language issues in order to support their
children’s language development by consulting the Ambrit EAL blog,
journals, etc.;
    taking advantage of language learning experiences in the community.
    making use of library resources in English and Italian to support
Units of Inquiry/learning as well as multilingual and bilingual books
for independent reading,
    supporting their children’s learning, for example through their
own language learning experiences and by demonstrating that they value
other cultures and languages.

Who we do it for

    Ambrit welcomes children from all nationalities.
    The director, through the admissions process, aims to create
heterogeneous groups for each grade level.
    The school makes every effort to maintain a student body composed
of at least 20% English first language, 45% third language nationals
and 35% Italian first language.

English first language students are all admitted to the school in
accordance with the admissions policy.

Italian first language students are accepted:

    in pre-school providing that one parent of the applicant speaks English;
      at other levels if they have attended English medium school
abroad and require no EAL support.

Third language speakers with no English:

    are admitted through grade 6;
    may on occasion be admitted in grade 7 and 8 if half-day, private
EAL instruction is provided by the family.

Ambrit’s Language Programmes

    English - All students follow the mainstream English programme.

    Italian as a first language - Students maintain grade-level
academic skills and literacy in alignment with the curriculum of the
Italian Ministry of Education. Students expand and enrich language
skills through other subjects such as math, history, geography and
science. After completing this programme it is possible for the
students to take the State examination at the end of 5th grade and 8th
grade, which enables them to continue their education in the Italian
educational system.

    English as an Additional Language - EAL support is provided in the
classroom (push-in) from Prep to grade 3. From grades 4 to 8 pull-out,
individual tuition, for students who are non-English proficient, will
be provided at an additional cost.

    Foreign Languages - We provide opportunities for the study and
acquisition of languages in addition to English and Italian (French,
Spanish and Mandarin) from the 6th Grade.

    Mother Tongue - where the home language is neither English nor Italian
    We co-ordinate, with the after-school programme, requests to set
up mother tongue classes
    We provide guidelines for parents, encouraging them to use the
mother tongue in the home.
    We collect information about the languages used at home through
the Ambrit Language Survey, which givesus a detailed language profile
of each child.
    We offer the possibility of the promotion of mother languages at
school by providing facilities (room, cupboard-space etc), for
after-school lessons.

Ambrit Language Programs and Options

Language Programmes

Glossary - Definitions are given as the terms are used in this policy.

Ambrit Language Survey: The Ambrit Language Survey was initiated in
spring 2010 when all students, with parental help, were asked to
complete a questionnaire. Since that time all new families have been
asked to submit their replies on admission to the school. The survey
gives a detailed language profile of each child and an overview of the
linguistic backgrounds of the school population.

Bilingualism: ranges from perfect command of two languages to the
ability to use another language for practical purposes, however
trivial the use.

Comprehensible input: this hypothesis was first proposed by Stephen
Krashen (Krashen, 1981). He purports that English Language Learners
(ELLs) acquire language by hearing and understanding messages that are
slightly above their current English language level.
An English language learner may understand the message "Put the paper
in your desk." By slightly changing the message to “Put the paper in
the garbage." the speaker scaffolds new information that increases the
learner’s language comprehension. In order to do this, the teacher
must provide new material that builds off the learner’s prior
knowledge. Comprehensible input is scaffolded, for example, through
the use of visuals, gestures and demonstrations.

Discrete linguistic item: A discrete linguistic item is an item of
language isolated from context.
Examples of discrete items could be the past form ‘-ed’, a phrasal
verb such as 'get up', or a conjunction such as 'in addition'.

EAL: English as an Additional Language: English for mother tongue
speakers of other languages. This could refer to the EAL programme in
school or recommended instructional strategies.

English Language Immersion: In an immersion program, English is not
the subject of instruction, rather it is the medium through which a
majority of the school's academic content is taught. Typically, in
most immersion programs this includes math, science, social studies
and other subject areas.

English medium school: a school where most of the instruction is
carried out in English

Experiential learning strategies: Experiential learning is inductive,
learner-centred, and activity- oriented. The emphasis in experiential
learning is on the process of learning and not on the product.
Learning strategies reflect these characteristics.

Facilitator: member of a classroom team who facilitates access of
second language learners to the mainstream curriculum.

First language: The first language to which the learner is exposed.
This may be different from the home language. See also Home language
and Mother tongue.

Heterogeneous Groups: groups in the classroom which are made up of a
mix of language and cultural backgound, gender, varying abilities as
well as different educational and emotional needs.

Holistic performance: taking into account all aspects of language use
including, not just accuracy, but also fluency, appropriacy, register,
ability to communicate, risk-taking, voice, etc.

Home language: The language used most frequently in the home. See also
First language, and Mother tongue

Integrated Curriculum: the choice of topics or themes taught are
interdisciplinary, (i.e. the activities used in teaching incorporate
the various subject areas).

Interlanguage: an intermediate form of language used by second
language learners in the process of learning a language. Interlanguage
contains some transfers or borrowing from the first language, and is
an approximate system with regard to grammar and communicating

Key specialist vocabulary: refers to academic vocabulary, some of
which is useful across the academic subjects, e.g. observe, compare,
whilst some is subject specific, e.g. igneous, coefficient.

Language acquisition: Language acquisition is defined as a natural
progression or development in the use of language. It is typified by
infants and young children learning to use their mother tongue but
also refers to second language learners. Language acquisition is
distinguished from language learning. Language learning is associated
with rote memorization of language items, e.g. vocabulary lists and
grammar rules.

Language-learning Strategies: procedures or techniques that learners
can use to facilitate a learning task.
social/affective: interacting with others for learning or using
affective control for learning, (co-operative learning strategies,
interviews, making choices about learning)s,

cognitive: manipulating the material to be learned through rehearsal,
organisation, or elaboration - involves internal mental procedures
that support language                         learning including
repetition, note-taking, imagery, grouping,

metacognitive: strategies that involve the processes of planning,
self-monitoring, problem solving, and evaluating learning (portfolios,
target setting).

Language proficiency: Language proficiency or linguistic proficiency
is the ability of an individual to speak or perform in an acquired

Language profile: contains information about the languages spoken by a
child to different members of the family and their self-assessed level
of proficiency in the four language domains (speaking, listening,
reading and writing), as well as the languages spoken to the child by
different family members.

Meaningful language event: an episode of social interaction,
facilitated by adults, through the medium of language, where the child
is learning to mean, to communicate, to regulate their lives and
acquire knowledge; for example, when a child conferences with a
teacher during target setting or sharing responses to a story, poem or
personal experience.  The adult may scaffold the child’s response by
modelling the language required, giving alternatives and asking the
child to choose or by simply encouraging and giving wait time.

Metalinguistic: using language to describe language. Thinking about
one’s language. For example, being able to name and identify parts of
speech or explain why we would say “he went” rather than “he goed” or
being able to look for and alternative  adjectives in a piece of
descriptive writing.

Miscue analysis: a type of reading assessment that provides
information on decoding skills, reading strategies, and comprehension
while students read aloud.

Mother tongue: The learner’s first language. Often used in referring
to the language of the home.
See also Home language and First language.

Multilingual: This term is used to describe social contexts, such as
schools, where there are speakers of many different languages.  It is
sometimes used to describe a person who speaks several languages but
is increasingly being replaced by the term plurilingual.

Native speakers: those whose first language is the one in question.

Pop-up Grammar: This refers to giving very short grammar explanations,
usually five seconds or less.

Proficiency: see Language Proficiency

Pull-out: with the pull-out approach, EAL teachers work with English
Language Learners (ELLs) in separate classrooms

Push-in: with the push-in approach, EAL teachers work with ELLs in
their regular classrooms.

Syntactic: relating to the way in which linguistic elements (such as
words) are put together to form constituents (such as phrases or

Semantic: relating to meaning

Halliday, M. 1985. Three Aspects of Children’s Language Development:
Learning Language, Learning through
Language, Learning about Language. Unpublished manuscript. Sydney,
Australia. University of Sydney,
Department of Linguistics.


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