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Modern Languages

The languages taught in the department are French and Spanish.

Philosophy of Modern Languages at ISA

  • To develop in students the skills of speaking in interactive situations, listening, reading and, where appropriate, writing in the target language.
  • To enable all students to perform effectively in as wide a range of linguistic situations as possible, with the strongest possible emphasis being placed on the student's personalisation of the language and his/her ability to manipulate it.
  • To develop in students, according to grade level, an explicit knowledge of certain rules of the grammar, phonology and vocabulary of the target language and to widen their experience of the nature and functions of language, and so to enhance their understanding of their own language. Each student's individual level of experience in the target language, as well as their pace of learning, is taken into account when structuring lessons. Native, or near-native, speakers are encouraged to begin the study of another language.
  • To develop in students a knowledge of the cultures associated with the target language.
  • To develop in students an understanding of, respect for, and interest in, the way of life in the area(s) where the target language is spoken.
  • To develop in students a body of knowledge of the area(s) where the target language is spoken.
  • To develop in students the ability to work as a member of a small or large group, and the skills associated with social cooperation.
  • To develop in students the ability to gather material from a variety of sources for individual work.

Teaching Methodology

The approach to language -learning in the department is audio- lingual, and the emphasis throughout the school is on the acquisition communicative competence, based on the needs of the learner.

Grammar is taught in context

The learner is placed in the position of a visitor to the area(s) where the target language is spoken, or of a person in his or her own country encountering a speaker of the target language. There is therefore a hierarchy of skills to be observed in classroom work:

  • listening and understanding;
  • responding and asking;
  • reading and understanding;
  • reading, responding/asking;
  • Writing.

Learning and performing are almost simultaneous: the learner begins to use the language as soon as he/she hears it.

Language is taught for a purpose: to enable the learner to transact, to ask for and give information, to understand information given. While we value bilingualism, we do not have a bilingual programme. We encourage students to choose a language which sufficiently challenges them. Sometimes, to help meet bilingual needs, we can offer after school clubs and we always encourage the students to continue independent bilingual learning

Classroom teaching is conducted largely in the target language: since all classroom language is practice for real-life situations. The learner must be given maximum exposure to the target language in class.

Language learning is cumulative and the teaching is spiralled to reflect this: language is presented in small chunks and reinforced regularly, with the long-term general aim being to equip the learner to deal with a wide range of language situations.

Elementary

From Preschool through Fifth Grade, students have the choice of instruction in French or Spanish. At ISA, we recognise the importance of modern language instruction in today's world. Students in K-5 will receive 3 language classes, in either French or Spanish, each week. Students will systematically learn how to speak and write this language. At the same time, they will be exposed to cultural aspects of French and Spanish-speaking countries. All the language teachers are specifically trained in their specialist subjects. Instruction is spiralled to consistently reinforce language skills and also to allow new students to enter the programme at any stage and begin the language acquisition process alongside more experienced learners of the same age.

Middle School

MS French A

This course introduces students to French, or provides consolidation for those requiring it, enabling them to understand and use the language at a basic level in both oral and written form. Emphasis is placed on all four language skills - reading, writing, listening and speaking. Useful vocabulary is stressed and basic grammar is taught. The student will learn about the French culture and French-speaking countries of the world.

MS French B

This course completes the introduction begun in French A, presenting the more complex structures of basic French and expanding on the cultural themes introduced in the first level. Again, emphasis is on all four language skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing. Upon completing this course, the student will have acquired a command of the key vocabulary and structures necessary for personal communication. Short writing tasks in French will be assigned.

MS French C

This course fortifies the structural learning that took place in French A and French B.  The emphasis is placed on communication and instruction is primarily in the target language.  The goals of French C are to establish an advanced degree of competency in the four target areas: speaking, reading, writing, and listening.  The course is topic-based, dealing with current issues and interests, as well as looking at elements of French culture.  Past, present and future tenses are reviewed, and further tenses are introduced, allowing the student to reach a higher level of fluency by learning to express more complex ideas on a variety of topics.  Middle School French C is open to eighth grade students only.

MS Spanish A

This course introduces the student to Spanish and enables him/her to understand and use the language at a basic level in both oral and written form. It also reinforces skills, in a formal programme, for students who have already had some exposure to Spanish. Emphasis is placed on all four language skills - reading, writing, listening and speaking. Useful expressions and vocabulary are presented and reinforced, and the present tense is covered. The student will also learn about some of the Spanish and Hispanic cultures of the world.

MS Spanish B

This course presents the more complex structures of basic Spanish and expands the cultural themes of the first-level courses. Emphasis is placed on all four language skills - listening, reading, speaking and writing. The present tense is reinforced and the future tenses, as well as some informal imperatives, are introduced. Upon completing this course, the student will have acquired a command of the key vocabulary and structures necessary for personal communication as well as an appreciation of the breadth and variety of the Spanish-speaking world. Oral presentations and short compositions will be done periodically to accustom the student to frequent use of the language.

MS Spanish C

This course fortifies the structural learning that has taken place in Spanish A and Spanish B. Past learning is reinforced, the imperative is extended and a past tense is introduced, allowing the student to reach a higher level of fluency and to learn to express more complex ideas. The emphasis is placed on communication and, while the course is conversation-based, all four language skills are incorporated. Middle School Spanish C is open to eighth grade students only.

High School

French

French Intermediate Level (IGCSE year 1), French Upper Intermediate Level (IGCSE year 2), IB French Ab Initio, and IB French Language B courses are offered to High School students.  Students will be enrolled in the level according to their previous study, teacher recommendation, or performance on placement tests. 

French Lower Intermediate (IGCSE Year 1) and French Upper Intermediate (IGCSE Year 2)

Prerequisite: We recommend that learners starting this course should have studied a French Middle School Programme or equivalent.
This course consolidates and extends previous study of the language to prepare learners for an optional IGCSE exam at the end of grade 10, and IB French Language B in grades 11 and 12.*

The Cambridge IGCSE French syllabus aims to:
• develop the ability to communicate effectively using French
• offer insights into the culture and society of countries where French is spoken
• develop awareness of the nature of language and language learning
• encourage positive attitudes towards speakers of other languages and a sympathetic approach to other cultures and civilisations
• provide enjoyment and intellectual stimulation
• develop transferable skills (e.g. analysis, memorising, drawing of inferences) to complement other areas of the curriculum
• form a sound base of the skills, language and attitudes required for progression to work or further study, either in French or another subject area.
Emphasis is placed on all four language skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking, all of which are assessed in the exam. For more detailed information about the syllabus, see Cambridge IGCSE French 0520

Learners work to acquire a command of the key vocabulary and grammatical structures necessary for personal communication.  In the Upper Intermediate Level (year 2), the goal is to reach a higher level of fluency by learning to express more complex ideas across a greater range of tenses.  Teaching throughout the course is largely conducted in the target language and learners are encouraged to use French as the means of communication in the classroom.

Progression: Students who complete both years of the course successfully are encouraged to continue to study French at a more advanced level (IB French Language B) in grades 11 and 12.
*Learners interested in taking only one year of the course, for whatever reason, are encouraged to do so.  However, students must be aware that if they take any High School French class (including a French Intermediate level IGCSE class), they would no longer be eligible to take IB French Ab Initio, which is a beginner’s level course.

IB French Ab Initio 

IB French Ab Initio is an intensive course for beginners, designed to be followed over two years by students who have had no previous experience of French at the High School level.

The language ab initio course is organized into three themes.
• Individual and society
• Leisure and work
• Urban and rural environment
Each theme has a list of topics that provide the students with opportunities to practise and explore the language, through the study of grammar, vocabulary, and cultural exploration.  Through the development of receptive, productive and interactive skills, students should be able to respond and interact appropriately in a defined range of everyday situations.

The IB French Ab Initio exam consists of four components: Reading Comprehension, Written Production, Oral Interaction, and a Written Assignment (exploring an aspect of culture.)

Language ab initio is available at Standard Level only.

IB French Language B

IB French Language B is an additional language-learning course intended for students who have some previous and serious knowledge of learning French.  It may be studied at either Standard Level or Higher Level.  The main focus of the course is on language acquisition, improved skills and fluency, and intercultural understanding.  Receptive, productive and interactive skills and competencies will be developed over the two-year course through the study and use of a range of culturally relevant written and spoken material.  Such material will extend from everyday oral exchanges to literary texts, newspaper and magazine articles, blogs and other social media sources.  The Language B syllabus approaches the learning of language through context within a set of prescribed themes such as “Communication and Media”, “Global Issues”, and “Social Relationships”.

The IB French Language B exam consists of five components: Reading Comprehension, Written Production, Individual Oral, Interactive Oral, and a Written Assignment. 

Spanish

Spanish Intermediate Level (IGCSE year 1), Spanish Upper Intermediate Level (IGCSE year 2), IB Spanish Ab Initio, and IB Spanish Language B courses are offered to High School students.  Students will be enrolled in the level according to their previous study, teacher recommendation, or performance on placement tests.

Spanish Lower Intermediate (IGCSE Year 1) and Spanish Upper Intermediate (IGCSE Year 2) 

Prerequisite: We recommend that learners starting this course should have studied a Spanish Middle School Programme or equivalent. This course consolidates and extends previous study of the language to prepare learners for an optional IGCSE exam at the end of grade 10, and IB Spanish Language B in grades 11 and 12.* 

The Cambridge IGCSE Spanish syllabus aims to:
• develop the ability to communicate effectively using Spanish
• offer insights into the culture and society of countries where Spanish is spoken 
• develop awareness of the nature of language and language learning 
• encourage positive attitudes towards speakers of other languages and a sympathetic approach to other cultures and civilisations 
• provide enjoyment and intellectual stimulation 
• develop transferable skills (e.g. analysis, memorising, drawing of inferences) to complement other areas of the curriculum 
• form a sound base of the skills, language and attitudes required for progression to work or further study, either in Spanish or another subject area.
Emphasis is placed on all four language skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking, all of which are assessed in the exam.  For more detailed information about the syllabus, see Cambridge IGCSE Spanish 0530

Learners work to acquire a command of the key vocabulary and grammatical structures necessary for personal communication.  In the Upper Intermediate Level (year 2), the goal is to reach a higher level of fluency by learning to express more complex ideas across a greater range of tenses.  Teaching throughout the course is largely conducted in the target language and learners are encouraged to use Spanish as the means of communication in the classroom.

Progression: Students who complete both years of the course successfully are encouraged to continue to study Spanish at a more advanced level (IB Spanish Language B) in grades 11 and 12.

*Learners interested in taking only one year of the course, for whatever reason, are encouraged to do so.  However, students must be aware that if they take any High School Spanish class (including a Spanish Intermediate Level IGCSE class), they would no longer be eligible to take IB Spanish Ab Initio, which is a beginner’s level course.

IB Spanish Ab Initio

IB Spanish Ab Initio is an intensive course for beginners, designed to be followed over two years by students who have had no previous experience of Spanish at the High School level. 

The language ab initio course is organised into three themes.
• Individual and society
• Leisure and work
• Urban and rural environment

Each theme has a list of topics that provide the students with opportunities to practise and explore the language, through the study of grammar, vocabulary, and cultural exploration.  Through the development of receptive, productive and interactive skills, students should be able to respond and interact appropriately in a defined range of everyday situations.

The IB Spanish Ab Initio exam consists of four components: Reading Comprehension, Written Production, Oral Interaction, and a Written Assignment (exploring an aspect of culture.) 

Language ab initio is available at Standard Level only.

IB Spanish Language B

Language B course is an additional language-learning course intended for students who have some previous and serious knowledge of learning Spanish.  It may be studied at either Standard Level or Higher Level.  The main focus of the course is on language acquisition, improved skills and fluency, and intercultural understanding.  Receptive, productive and interactive skills and competencies will be developed over the two-year course through the study and use of a range of culturally relevant written and spoken material.  Such material will extend from everyday oral exchanges to literary texts, newspaper and magazine articles, blogs and other social media sources.  The Language B syllabus approaches the learning of language through context within a set of prescribed themes such as “Communication and Media”, “Global Issues”, and “Social Relationships”.

The IB Spanish Language B exam consists of five components: Reading Comprehension, Written Production, Individual Oral, Interactive Oral, and a Written Assignment. 

Language Trips

Every other year IB and pre-IB language students have the opportunity to travel to either France or Spain for a one-week full-immersion experience. Students stay with local families, study at a local language school, and participate in cultural events and tours of the area

Accredited by

International Baccalaureate Council of International Schools Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Cambridge International Examinations