Language Pathway

As an International Baccalaureate school, the International School of Nanshan Shenzhen is a learning community that is committed to providing an inquiry-driven education for all students.  ISNS therefore views the cultural and linguistic diversity of its student population as a valued characteristic of our school and as a rich resource.

ISNS recognizes that language proficiency is vital to the success of our students. Furthermore, the ability to thrive in a multilingual, multicultural world is greatly enhanced by the acquisition of languages in addition to the mother tongue. We view the on-going language development of ISNS students as the responsibility of all teachers, parents and students. Through language, our students acquire the ability to think and to learn, to develop social skills and values, and to acquire knowledge. Since bilingual and multilingual students benefit cognitively, socially and health-wise, ISNS strives to support the development of mother tongue and additional languages.  All ISNS students will therefore have the knowledge of and the ability to use two or more languages, but we recognize that our students come to our school with different language backgrounds and aptitude and will all progress at different paces.

Language Needs

The language needs of students at ISNS can be divided into five areas: English, English as an Additional Language, Mother Tongue, Mandarin and World Languages.

Languages used in the school:

  • English (as language of instruction); English as an Additional Language, Language A and Language B

  • Mandarin as host country language, Language and Literature, and Language Acquisition

  • French as Language B option

  • Other languages spoken in the school - Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Farsi, Dutch, Hindi, Urdu, Norwegian, Romanian, Italian, German, Malay and more

Practices relating to teaching and learning languages:

All teachers, in every subject area, support students in their language development at ISNS.

Information relating to language proficiency and previous language learning experience is collected at enrollment through the Home Language Survey. 

Students are encouraged to use their mother tongue to seek clarification in non-mother tongue lessons. Students are encouraged to use their languages to include others in conversations and discussions by switching to a common language or translating according to the situation. The playground, library, and social areas in the school are multilingual and inclusive.

Support for student learning in the language of instruction (English) is the result of collaboration between mainstream and EAL teachers. The nature of the support (individual or small group instruction; in class or sheltered support) is dependent on the needs of the student and the academic demands.

The acquisition of additional languages is a necessity in our ever changing, fast-paced world. The development of one additional language can help to develop intercultural awareness and tolerance and thus plays a key role in the holistic development of the student. The acquisition of an additional language can develop language skills that can assist students in acquiring further additional languages.

Languages in the Primary Years Programme (PYP)

English as the Language of Instruction

Teachers will work to provide a caring and accepting language community and opportunities will be structured to ensure the success of all learners.  Students are expected and encouraged to speak English in the classroom and this is reinforced in positive ways, not in a punitive manner.  Teachers collaborate with specialists and acknowledge that they “play an important role in reinforcing, supporting and extending the classroom work” (Making the PYP Happen, IBO. Peterson, 2009). The PYP Language Scope and Sequence documents are used to guide teachers at every stage of the language teaching and learning process.  

English as an Additional Language Support

EAL support complements the Programme of Inquiry to the fullest extent possible. Grade level teams and the PYP coordinator involve the specialist language teachers when planning units of inquiry.

Mother Tongue

ISNS acknowledges that the development of mother-tongue language is essential to cognition and preserving personal and cultural identity. Efforts are made to connect new learning to prior learning in each student’s mother tongue language.

Mandarin as Host Country Language

As the host country language and the mother tongue of the majority students, Mandarin holds a special status at ISNS. Students studying this language are grouped according to proficiency, thus ensuring support for both mother tongue Mandarin speakers and learners of Mandarin as an additional language.

Languages in the Middle Years Programme (MYP)

English as the Language of Instruction

In the MYP, students have the opportunity to take English as Language and Literature (Language A) or as Language Acquisition (Language B). Students who achieve Phase 5 on the IB continuum of language acquisition, may transition to the Language and Literature course.  The student’s achievement will be reviewed by the language team to access readiness.

The school analyzes assessment data to inform teaching and learning in addition to tracking individual student progress. In recognition of the fact that all teachers are teachers of language, literacy outcomes such as, reading comprehension strategies, the acquisition of academic vocabulary, and communication skills, are incorporated into units of inquiry as appropriate.

English Immersion:  Achieving advanced command of English requires day-to-day immersion in the language. ISNS emphasizes an English-only approach in MYP classes (with the exception of Mandarin and French classes) to ensure that students are constantly exposed to English and have a thoroughly immersive experience while at school.

English as an Additional Language Support

We are well aware of the research stating that it may take up to seven years for learners who are using a language other than their mother tongue to attain the same levels in academic language proficiency as those expected for learners learning in a mother tongue environment (Learning in language other than mother tongue in IB programmes, IBO. Peterson. 2008). Every effort will be made to provide students who enter the MYP without command of the language of instruction the necessary support in preparation for the challenges of the Diploma Programme.

Students who develop foundational skills in Language Acquisition, achieve advanced proficiency in English, and who are approved by leadership following an evaluation, may transition to the Language & Literature course at the start of the next school year.

Mother Tongue

To the extent possible, options will be provided for students to pursue study of their mother tongue.

Mandarin as Host Country Language

In the MYP, Mandarin continues to be a focus at ISNS.  The proficiency groupings of the primary years are formalized into Language and Literature (Language A) and Language Acquisition (Language B) courses. Standardized tests are used to monitor language proficiency in Mandarin. 

Additional Languages

Mandarin and French Language Acquisition courses are offered in the MYP at ISNS.  Students’ commencing with French as their Language Acquisition course may not switch to Mandarin.  Students will be permitted to switch from Mandarin to French Language Acquisition in Grade 9.  

If a student is not capable of taking either English or Mandarin at a Language and Literature level by the beginning of Grade 9, the student will be required to commence studying their mother tongue language, at their own cost.  One Language and Literature course at a minimum is required for the full Diploma Programme.

MYP to DP Language Courses Flowchart

For students planning on completing the full DP:

Language Pathway

Languages in the Diploma Programme (DP)

The languages on offer at ISNS in Grades 11 and 12 aim to provide students with the opportunity to study their mother tongue continue to learn additional languages or start learning a new language from the beginning. Students entering ISNS in Grade 11 must be reading and writing in English at grade level.

In Grades 11 and 12, ISNS currently offers two programmes:

The full IB Diploma Programme, which requires students to include a Language A: Language and Literature course, as well as an additional language (at either Language B or ab initio Language level) in their subject selection. Where appropriate in terms of the student’s future professional ambitions, the school actively encourages the study of three languages. Students attempting the full IB Diploma Programme will also have the option to complete two Language A: Language and Literature courses in lieu of one Language A and one Language B/ab initio course.  Successful students will then be able to graduate with a bilingual diploma;

The IB Programme with a New Brunswick Diploma, aimed at those students who do not require a full IB Diploma or who might be too challenged by it. Within the IB Programme, students will always select a minimum of two languages: one Language A: Language and Literature, and the other at either Language B or ab initio level. The school reviews the range of languages on offer in Grades 11 & 12 on an annual basis.

English as an Additional Language (EAL) Program

Additional support for students who are beginning English learners is provided through our EAL program.  The EAL program is primarily for students in Grades 1 to 5.  Details on how the EAL program operates can be obtained through the Admissions Office or our Director of Language Acquisition.

Students in Grade 6 and above are expected to have a high level of English language skills in order to be successful in the rigorous academic program offered at ISNS.

This policy will be reviewed annually by the Heads of Departments for Languages and IB Coordinators with input from teaching leads and other staff. Revised: March 3, 2021.