Bridging the gap for student success: English Language Support programme at GIIS

Shubhdarshani Mitra
Nov 10, 2023
Learning, School

– With inputs from GIIS PYP Coordinator and the PYP ELS Team 

In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability to use the English language is a key skill that allows us to seize opportunities. However, for students with limited proficiency in English, this can often feel like a challenge. 

The good news is that there are language support programmes in schools to provide additional help to these students. The English language support programme at school enables them to better participate in regular classes and not miss out on any opportunities within the classroom or outside. 

In this blog, we will explore what GIIS does to bridge this gap to help students embark on a path towards language proficiency, integration and success. 


‘English will grow’

As per a research publication, ‘The Future of English: Global Perspectives’ by the British Council that assesses and analyses the role of English in the world –  ‘according to delegates from Singapore and other ASEAN nations, English as a medium of education will grow and require an expansion of teacher training.’

‘English will remain the global language of communication for the next decade and beyond. Technology will enable learning beyond the classroom, and the use of AI could see a step-change in language use, learning and assessment.’

As highlighted in the publication, the drive to learn English is due to the important role it plays in higher education and the possibilities it offers towards better jobs and economic security. 

English Language support for GIIS PYP students

The English Language Support (ELS) programme at GIIS is designed to support and expedite language acquisition skills and ensure a smooth transition of students into regular classes. The programme adopts a differential instructional approach to cater to the individual needs of our students. While some may require additional support in sentence formation, others may require help in reading. Based on their preferred mode of learning, our students are given appropriate attention and support.

The first step towards providing extra support by the school involves assessing the level of English proficiency for a student, allowing our educators to understand the needs of individual students. The assessment results are sent to the ELS team for evaluation.

Teacher support and resources

Our ELS teachers provide our students a range of language resources, including audio clips and dialogues for listening practice, reading materials for better comprehension, including vocabulary lists, books spanning from beginner to advanced levels, and worksheets. Teachers make use of online resources and interactive teaching tools. Students are grouped together for better engagement with the learning process. The class sizes range from 2-4 students with a maximum of 6 students per class.

GIIS PYP ELS students with Ms. Basha

Understanding the PYP curriculum: Enhancing English Language skills 

The IB PYP curriculum incorporates distinctive terms such as 'Unit of Inquiry,' 'Programme of Inquiry,' 'Transdisciplinary Learning,' as well as various conceptual elements like function, perspective, connection, and reflection. 

It is essential that the students comprehend these terms and their relevance in the PYP throughout their learning journey. Our ELS teachers work with Grade 1 to 5 students to ensure their comprehension of these terms and the corresponding academic concepts linked to them.

The GIIS ELS teachers closely work with the PYP teachers at different grade levels and are involved in the PYP lesson planning before each Unit of Inquiry (UoI). Being aware of the unit objectives facilitates the learning process. The ELS teachers continue to guide them throughout the UoI, helping clarify the concepts for each UoI.

To enhance English language proficiency, our ELS teachers use a dual approach:

● Pull-out method: This involves specialised ELS classes, with 2 to 6 students per class, held twice a week for Grades 1 to 3. These classes are tailored to individual needs.

● Push-in method: Once a week, the ELS teachers for Grades 1 to 3 join PYP classes during UoI sessions. In this way, they assist the students to better interact with their peers and teachers, addressing any gaps in their understanding.

For ELS students in higher grades (Grades 4 and 5), the push-in method is used more frequently, with up to three times a week or even more per student or group of students, particularly when dealing with complex concepts. 

Moreover, the teachers arrange group sessions to reiterate concepts if several ELS students in a grade level or across different grades find a particular concept or topic extra challenging. They also provide vocabulary lists to acquaint students with subject or concept specific terminology, and support their research as required by the PYP.

For students in Grades 4 and 5 who require extra assistance, ELS teachers spend additional time in their PYP classes to facilitate comprehension of concepts and enhance interaction.

Effective outcomes, substantial improvements

Typically, within 3-4 months of enrolling in the programme as part of PYP at GIIS, students often experience substantial improvements in their communication, reading and comprehension skills. This progress enables them to integrate more effectively, interact with peers, participate in social activities, and engage with the PYP curriculum.

The duration of a student's participation in the ELS programme – that can range from 6 months to a year – depends on their initial language proficiency and dedication. They remain in the programme until they are confident to access the mainstream PYP language classes, without the need for the additional language support that GIIS offers at no extra cost.

If you are keen to know more about PYP ELS at GIIS, please feel free to contact our admissions team.

– In collaboration with Selina D’Souza

Shubhdarshani Mitra

Shubhdarshani has over 10 years of experience in content creation, curation and editing. She has worked for Indian newspapers, school magazines and international news websites where she worked closely with the leadership on the execution and communication of the content strategy. Aside from work, she’s a passionate B&W photographer and storyteller.

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