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English/Language Arts

Recognising the fact that language skills serve as the foundation for effective communication and life-long learning, the English/Language Arts programme at the International School of Aberdeen endeavours to assist students in achieving competency in the four integrated areas of language development: reading, writing, listening and speaking. All students will be given opportunities and resources to pursue healthy and attainable communication goals required to be productive members of society. We strive to promote an enjoyment of, and interest in, literature from different cultures and genres. As students make progress in their literacy abilities, they will increase their skill in analysing written texts. The curriculum encourages the appreciation, appropriate use and exploration of language both in oral and written communication. All aspects of our instruction incorporate analytical and creative thinking, self-directed learning, effective communication, quality work and collaborative effort.


The language skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing are fundamental to all other aspects of learning. The Elementary School English/Language Arts programme provides students with a wide variety of learning situations to systematically develop the skills of students from Pre-school through Fifth Grade. Teachers utilize approaches and materials that are most relevant to the individual needs of students.

In the teaching of reading, students are taught phonics, but are also encouraged to develop their sight vocabulary. Another component of the reading programme in the Elementary School is the consistent use of quality literature. Our ultimate goal is to have students who not only read with fluency and understanding, but also for pleasure.

Written expression is a critical means for students to communicate their thoughts, feelings and knowledge. At each stage of their education, students are given numerous and varied opportunities to write. Our early learners dictate their stories. Writing should have a real purpose and meaning to students and, as such, teachers take advantage of relevant contexts, such as personal experiences, whenever possible in the planning of assignments. In addition, writing is taught as a process that includes different stages:

  • Prewriting
  • Drafting
  • Responding and Revising
  • Proofreading
  • Publishing

Grammar and spelling are also developed as an essential aid to effective communication. As we are an international school we advocate a multi-cultural viewpoint in our spelling and, as such, accept both British and North American spellings. Teachers attempt to explain the complex nature of spelling rules whenever it's feasible. Handwriting is taught according to the D'Nealian model so that there is a natural progression from manuscript to joined-up/cursive writing.

Middle School

English 6

During the sixth grade, students will progress from ‘reading’ to ‘literature’ studies through the medium of novel studies. They will study various literary genres, occasionally connected thematically to topics studied in the students’ Social Studies class. Students will be taught strategies for effectively reading literature. They will respond to literature through writing, classroom discussions, and other expressive forms. Students will apply their understanding of the writer’s craft to produce pieces of narrative, descriptive, expository, persuasive and poetic writing.

In their writing, students will be asked to pay careful attention to the conventions of spelling, punctuation, grammar, and to show appropriate presentation skills. They will continue to acquire vocabulary and spelling skills corresponding to their individual needs and alongside lists of words taken from content area lessons and relevant literature. Students will be given the opportunity to speak both individually and in groups in order to convey information in a variety of contexts. They will talk appropriately about experiences, opinions, feelings and texts, showing an awareness of audience and purpose. Students will be expected to actively listen in a variety of differing situations so as to gain information, understand what they have heard, and respond to speakers and texts. Development of all language skills is emphasised at every level. This includes the teaching of the research process and library skills.

English 7

During the seventh grade year, students will continue their literature studies begun in grade six, and will study various literary genres though class novel studies, book clubs, and independent reading. Literature will, wherever possible, be connected thematically to topics studied in Social Studies. Students will be taught strategies for effectively reading and interpreting literature and will be required to read outside of class to help develop a lifelong appreciation of reading.

In addition to reading, students will deconstruct a range of fiction and non-fiction texts, analysing different aspects of the writer’s craft and developing their own writing styles and creativity. The class will look at how ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, organization, and presentation come together to make great texts. Throughout the year students will be given opportunities to respond in a variety of ways, developing their reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, and to reflect regularly on their learning.

English 8

The eighth grade English programme follows an integrated approach to the learning of language. Literature, grammar, and mechanics are blended with the teaching of writing to provide students with the opportunity to explore the writer’s craft. Students will refine their use of the writing process in the context of drafting, self and peer editing, and proof-reading. They will use oral and written language for expressive, informational, argumentative, critical and literary purposes. They will demonstrate an awareness of the inter-connection of audience and purpose and further develop essential mechanical and grammatical skills. Eighth grade students will continue to foster a deep appreciation of literature through selected class books and independent reading assignments. They will read, respond and critically analyse a wide variety of literary genres. Literature will, wherever possible, be connected thematically to topics studied in Social Studies. Students will continue to expand their vocabulary skills through content area and grade appropriate word lists. The course also includes the teaching of the research process and library skills.

High School

English Courses

Development of all language skills is emphasized at every level. This includes the continued development of the writing process, presentation, analysis, research and library skills appropriate to each grade level.

English 9

1 credit

Through the study of literature ninth grade English emphasises the department philosophy of improving students’ abilities of writing, listening, speaking, and presenting. Vocabulary and grammar skills are honed in the context of a writing programme and the investigation of style analysis in the study of literature. The students will produce various types of writing. In an effort to promote intercultural awareness and understanding, students will study literature of all genres and draw from a variety of cultures. New literary terms will be introduced as a tool for analysis. A selection of novels is used to investigate theme and symbolism while bolstering the aim of creating international understanding. This course syllabus will prepare students for IGCSE Year 2 and the IB Language and Literature course, to be introduced in the 2019/20 school year.

English 10

1 credit

Prerequisite: English 9

English 10/IGCSE Year 2 continues the theme of building on, and improving, language skills in preparation for the optional First Language 0500 English exam. These skills include reading analytically and writing to various genres and differing audiences. The course builds on IGCSE 1 with the development of vocabulary, both academic and subject specific. Students analyse, synthesise and evaluate different genres of texts including non-fiction works and visual media, demonstrating their learning in various forms, including written, spoken, and the visual. The program aims to further student listening and speaking skills, whilst also preparing students for the transition to the International Baccalaureate Language and Literature course.

English 11 & 12

2 credit/2 years

Prerequisite: English 10

These courses will run concurrently with IB English 1 and 2 with some modifications to the syllabus and/or requirements to meet the needs of students not taking the IB certificate in English. The course objectives are the same as those of the IB English course. See the course description below.

IB English 1, 2

2 credits/ 2 years

Prerequisite: English 10

In the language A: language and literature course students will learn about the complex and dynamic nature of language and explore both its practical and aesthetic dimensions. They will explore the crucial role language plays in communication, reflecting experience and shaping the world. Students will also learn about their own roles as producers of language and develop their productive skills. Throughout the course, students will explore the various ways in which language choices, text types, literary forms and contextual elements all effect meaning. Through close analysis of various text types and literary forms, students will consider their own interpretations, as well as the critical perspectives of others, to explore how such positions are shaped by cultural belief systems and to negotiate meanings for texts. Students will engage in activities that involve them in the process of production and help shape their critical awareness of how texts and their associated visual and audio elements work together to influence the audience/reader and how audiences/readers open up the possibilities of texts. With its focus on a wide variety of communicative acts, the course is meant to develop sensitivity to the foundational nature, and pervasive influence, of language in the world at large. [Note that we are transitioning from Literature to Language and Literature in the 2019-20 school year.]

Accredited by

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