World Language Coordinator, Mariana Curti shares about the World Language Program at TKS
The study of additional languages provides students with the opportunity to develop insights into the features, processes and craft of language and the concept of culture, and to realize that there are diverse ways of living, viewing and behaving in the world. The ability to communicate in a variety of modes, in more than one language, is essential to the concept of an international education and takes further relevance in our context at TKS and in KAUST.
How are additional languages structured at TKS?
At TKS, all students have the opportunity of developing proficiency in English as the language of instruction and an additional language. The additional languages offered through formal instruction are Arabic, French and Spanish. Access to these courses depends on each division and student previous experience in the language.
A comprehensive approach to supporting Arabic as the host country culture and language
As an IB continuum school, TKS recognizes the importance of language learning in developing intercultural understanding and promoting open-mindedness. In addition, we promote and support the development of the home language as a crucial foundation to develop strong literacy abilities in the school academic language (Cummings, 2009).
Arabic, as the host country culture and language, is offered throughout all of the divisions at TKS: From Kindergarten all the way up to High School and students have the opportunity to develop Arabic proficiency as a home language or as an additional language. In order to further strengthen our commitment to support students in their journey towards developing language proficiency in Arabic, the World language department at TKS has developed a comprehensive plan involving systems, curriculum, teachers, and the parent community.
We have adopted a standards based approach to language teaching and learning. This allows teachers to purposefully plan the lessons with a clear assessment goal in mind and build the learning engagements in a developmental and sequential manner and with the student at the center. A standards based curriculum allows teachers to meet students where they are and help them move towards different learning targets.
Arabic Language and Literature: Queen Rania standards. These standards are not specific to any country, region or educational system. They are aimed at building Arabic native speakers’ literacy skills in MSA.
Arabic Acquisition: AERO World Language Standards. These standards focus on the five Cs of language learning: communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities and aim at building communicative competence, so that students can communicate effectively in real-world situations while developing intercultural competence.
The Arabic language team has had a busy year in 2022-23 and this academic year does not look any different. We started off welcoming ACTFL trainer, Ms. Bahia Abboudy, who offered a thorough training on the Oral Proficiency Interview. The Arabic team engaged in discussing language proficiency levels, designing oral exams, modifying lesson planners and discussing ways the OPI can be used in placement and to assess student proficiency in the Arabic classroom.
Later in the year, many team members participated in the NESA Educators Conference in Bahrain in a workshop led by ACTFL Paul Sandrock where we explored how to engage learners and build language proficiency in every lesson through a standards based planning approach. This year, Arabic teachers will take part in NESA Educators 2024 and attend a workshop led by consultant Hanadi Dayyeh where they will explore how to design lessons for impactful learning in Arabic classes.
In addition to these external professional development opportunities, we meet every week to plan lessons together and discuss best evidence based practice for the language classroom.
We also work very closely with Kindergarten teachers and teaching assistants offering professional development language acquisition, translanguaging, and promoting oral language development in multilingual learners.
In Elementary School, Middle School and High School, we have developed clear guidelines for course placement and advancement based on student language proficiency and ability. The students are assessed at the end of each year against the course standards. Assessments are moderated by the language team who also look at student performance over the year. This data helps the team place the student in the right class to continue advancing towards Arabic language proficiency (be it in Arabic Language and Literature or in a particular phase in Arabic Acquisition). The placement protocol is also used during admissions of newcomers.
PARENT INFORMATION SESSIONS
At TKS we believe in the power of partnerships with parents, we also recognise that in a multicultural and multilingual community such as ours it is inevitable to wonder what is the best approach to language learning, what language shall we use at home, which language is the home language if we speak more than one. That is why we are constantly offering parent information sessions and workshops based on the latest research around language acquisition. Some of the sessions are:
- Debunking myths about language learning (See an example of some of the ideas we discuss below)
- Supporting children multilingual journey
- Advancing Arabic as a home language
- Decision Making Choices: MYP Additional Languages
- Language Development and the Benefits of Multilingualism
Another way of strengthening the home-school partnership is through continuous communication. As of this year we have streamlined unit newsletters in KG and ES where parents can have access to the focus of the unit, final assessments and resources to delve into what children are learning in the Arabic class.
We have also developed detailed action plans for those students who need further support to meet the standards and these are shared with parents and reviewed periodically with parents, students, teachers and the World Language coordinator.
Toddle, although a brand new tool, allows teachers to share student learning with the families where they can see the progress they are making towards meeting the standards and as effective communicators of the language.
We are committed to providing the best possible education for your child, and that includes our Arabic Program. We want to ensure that all students have the opportunity to excel in Arabic, whether they are acquiring the language or already speak it fluently.
We believe that by working together, we can provide a valuable language learning experience for all children, irrespective of their language background. We look forward to an exciting year ahead, filled with language learning and growth for all our students.
If you have any questions or need further information, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. We greatly value your support in this educational journey, and together, we can help our students thrive in their language learning experiences.