Member Search Feature Update: What positions do our 1980+ International School Community members have?
After using the member profile search feature on the main homepage of International School Community, we found the following results: (updated from 12 August, 2012)
13 Activities Coordinators – (up 11)
3 Admissions Coordinators – (up 1)
24 Art Teachers – (up 13)
14 Assistant Principals – (up 12)
12 Biology Teachers – (up 5)
9 Business Office Workers – (up 7)
12 Chemistry Teachers – (up 4)
177 Classroom Teachers – (up 87)
2 Communications Workers – (up 2)
18 Counselors – (up 8)
23 Curriculum Coordinators – (up 10)
21 Department Heads – (up 11)
2 Development Workers – (up 2)
10 Drama Teacher – (up 3)
14 Economics Teacher – (up 6)
40 English Teachers – (up 21)
55 EAL Teachers – (up 22)
23 Foreign Language Teachers – (up 14)
4 Geography Teachers – (up 4)
20 Heads of School/Directors – (up 12)
11 History Teacher – (up 2)
23 ICT Teachers – (up 12)
3 Interns – (up 1)
10 Librarians – (up 3)
3 Marketing Workers – (up 3)
31 Math Teachers – (up 14)
12 Music Teachers – (up 3)
2 Nurses – (same)
77 Other – (up 42)
13 P.E. Teachers (up 4)
8 Physics Teacher – (up 6)
19 Principal – (up 12)
14 Science Teachers – (up 6)
13 Social Studies Teachers – (up 7)
24 Special Needs Teachers – (up 16)
1 Speech Pathologist – (up 1)
7 Teaching Assistants – (up 2)
Want to get a job at an international school in one of these positions? Log-on to International School Community and start contacting our members to get answers to your questions. Many of our members definitely know about the life of an international school teacher at the school they currently work at and the schools they have worked at in the past.
Check out all of our 1981 members here.
Random year for international schools around the world: 1951
There is much history in the international teaching community. We have international schools with founding dates of 1838 and 1854 and we also have many, many international schools with founding dates in the 21st century. The numbers are increasing for sure.
Utilizing the database of the 1351 (11 February, 2013) international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 11 international schools that were founded in 1951. Here are a few of those schools that also have had comments and information submitted on them on our website (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites)
Greengates School (British International School) (5 Comments) (Mexico City, Mexico)
“Greengates School is a privately owned, co-educational day school set in the northern part of Mexico City, in an area of over 20,000 sq. meters. For over 60 years the school has been preparing students for university study worldwide and developing caring global citizens.”
International School of Brussels (7 Comments) (Brussels, Belgium)
“The International School of Brussels first opened its doors in October 1951, with four teachers on hand to welcome twenty-seven students between the ages of 5 and 11.
In the spring of 1953, with a population of more than one hundred students, the school moved to its current home at the Château des Fougères, in the Brussels commune of Watermael-Boitsfort, and became known as the International School of Brussels.
In its early years, the entire school was housed in the Château: a far cry from the 40 acre campus with four school divisions and a lifelong learning centre that make up the ISB of today!”
Lycee International de Saint Germain-en-Laye (9 Comments) (Saint Germain-en-Laye, France)
“The American Section program starts in Pre-Kindergarten and goes through 12th grade. There are approximately 700 students enrolled, evenly divided between boys and girls and ranging in age from 4 to19. Approximately 60 percent of our students are U.S. citizens, and many hold both French and American citizenship. Most of the remaining 40 percent are French citizens who have spent a considerable amount of time in the United States or have had American schooling.”
Jakarta International School (9 Comments) (Jakarta, Indonesia)
“With five original students, Jakarta International School was founded by UN workers in 1951. These pioneers introduced relevant schooling in English for children of expats in the newfound Republic of Indonesia. From early days the school’s international identity was clear. It was originally named the Joint Embassy School (J.E.S.) after its British, American, Australian and (then) Yugoslavian embassy partners. Just over a decade later, in 1978, J.E.S. became J.I.S.”
Garden International School (19 Comments) (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
“Garden School was established by Mrs Sally Watkins, the wife of the then Fire Brigade Chief. Lt. Col. F.F.C. Watkins, in the Lake Gardens of Kuala Lumpur in 1951.”
International School Bangkok (16 Comments) (Bangkok, Thailand)
“Widely recognized as one of the premier international schools in the world, International School Bangkok (ISB) has been providing quality education since 1951 to expatriates representing more than 60 countries.”
Check out the rest of the international schools listed on International School Community and check out their histories as well! We have over 1351 international schools that have profile pages on our website.
We now have over 7000 comments and information on International School Community: Membership Promotion of 20% off all subscriptions!
International School Community is celebrating the over 7000 comments and information which have now been posted on our website! Currently, we are at 7068!
International School Community’s website launched back in February 2011. When our first newsletter came out in May 2011, we only had 71 posted comments and information. Lately, during the past 3-4 months, we have been getting between 100-400 new comments and information submitted each month. We hope this trend continues! The more members we have, the more people we have sharing what they know about life working at international schools.
To celebrate, all members can use the coupon code, 7000COMMENTS, to get 20% off of their next premium membership subscription.
With the coupon code:
• 1 month is only 8 USD
• 6 months is only 16 USD
• 1 year is only 24 USD!
Take advantage of this special deal now as this coupon code is valid only until 16 February, 2013.
As a premium member, you can search our vast collection of international school profile pages to find that specific international school you want to know about. You can also search our member profiles and send a private message to a member to get firsthand information about a school that member has worked at.
All premium members also have unlimited access to view all the comments and information that have been submitted so far on our school profile pages. Being that the focus of our website is to serve the international school teaching community by providing real and useful information about international schools, we have specifically organized our website to promote our members to leave comments and information that are useful for everyone. The comments are specifically designed to talk about what an international school teacher would want to know. International School Community really wants to take writing comments and sharing information about international schools to the next level. Log-on now to check out who our current members are and the latest comments and information submitted about international schools from all over the world!
Recently Updated School Profiles #19: Dhahran Ahliyya Schools, Al Ghanim Bilingual School and Mef Int’l School Istanbul
Members of International School Community have written some new and informative comments on the following schools:
21 Jan Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (36 new comments) Dammam, Saudi Arabia:
One of the new comments in the school information section: “DAS does have high expectations of its teaching staff. The school is working hard to make the shift to a dual language program and it expects the teachers to participate fully in its efforts. Most of these efforts take place during school hours although, like in good schools everywhere, teachers do take work home to prepare lessons and grade papers. Most teachers have preparation time for approximately one-third to one-half of their time in school. Some of that time is taken up by meetings in the department and everyone has a few assignments of yard duty per week…”
20 Jan Al Ghanim Bilingual School (15 new comments) Salwa, Kuwait:
One of the new comments in the benefits information section: “Although I recommend staying away from this school, if you are even considering working there, make sure that you get the following before making a final decision: 1. A copy of the contract. 2. A copy of the staff manual. If it’s the same staff manual that I received, you’ll find a list of things teachers should not do and the consequences including the number of days pay that will be lost. 3. Your assignment and schedule in writing. (There were teachers who were told that they would be doing one thing, and when they arrived they were told that they would be doing something else.) …”
14 Jan Mef Int’l School Istanbul (27 new comments) Istanbul, Turkey:
One of the new comments in the benefits information section: “A flight every 2 years and at end of contract. 600 USD shipping at beginning and end of contract. Receipts at beginning but not needed when leaving. Free breakfast, lunch and snack…”
Check out the rest of the last 40 international school profile pages that have been recently updated on International School Community here.
A new survey has arrived!
Topic: On average, how many interviews do you go to at a recruitment fair?
Around seven to ten years ago it really seemed like a different story; there were many positions available and not enough candidates to fill the positions. With the power more on the candidate’s side, you might feel like you are very much in demand at the fair.
As of late, it seems like the international schools at the fair are very much in control. They have a number of candidates to choose from, and most likely quality candidates at that. More quality candidates competing with you to secure interviews might mean less interviews for you to attend.
Putting the topic of who’s has the power aside, if you are a top candidate with a lot of domestic and international school teaching experience, you might still be looking at going to seven-plus interviews at certain fairs. On the other hand if you are just starting out in teaching and in the international school community, you possibly might be looking at only securing a few.
As experienced international school teacher veterans know, it is not so cut and dry like that. There are too many factors at which to look. It all depends too on “luck and timing.” Anyone who is a quality teacher and a good fit for the school will most likely get short-listed disregarding your lack of experience.
Some teachers, however, go to the fair with a plan. That plan is to seek out only a small handful of schools. If they are unsuccessful at securing an interview at those schools, then that is it for them. It is a bit stressful to attend a fair and have your hopes dashed as you find the two schools that you were most interested in is not interested in you “at this time”, the vacancy has gone away or it has already been filled. Unfortunately, in this circumstance, you potentially will end up not going to any interviews.
Other teachers are very open to where they would like to go. For those teachers, they might indeed end up securing more interviews. Typically, they do say that you should be open-minded to attend an interview even if the school is not the one you are necessarily looking at or even if it is not in a location you were originally considering. It is a fine line though between being ‘open-minded’ and potentially just wasting your time and the school’s time. Because of the electric feeling in the air, sometimes you get caught up in all of the excitement at the fair that it is just fun to go to all interviews that are presented to you. You never know what will happen and smart networking is always a good thing!
So, on average, how many interviews do you go to at a recruitment fair? Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today! You can check out the latest voting results here.
From the staff at International School Community.
IB conferences/workshops can prove to be a very motivating and enlightening experience. Isn’t that what going to conferences is all about? Most people might say that teaching is viewed as a career, and with careers comes professionalism. Many international school teachers aspire to be the best professionals in the field. The IB (PYP and MYP too) teachers definitely have similar aspirations as well; to learn more and more about the new ways of thinking and teaching using inquiry. They are also looking to learn more about how to make their students’ thinking visible.
But like many workshops that you may attend at international school teaching conferences, the benefit of the workshop you attend greatly depends on the instructor that you get. It can also be said that the success of your workshop depends on the people that attend it as well. So many different factors come into play, but when all of them line up correctly, you are most likely in for an enlightening experience. Those types of workshops can really inspire you throughout the rest of the conference and stay with you when you return back to work.
In terms of staff development benefits, the IBO requires that the teachers working in approved/accredited schools get on going PD in the IB philosophy and latest strategies on how best to instruct students in their inquiry programme. Instead of using your own PD monies to attend IB workshops, very often the school will take the costs involved out of their own monies.
There are many factors to consider when deciding on which international school at which to work. Knowing about the professional development allowance (or lack there of) can prove to be helpful information to know; just to see what you can expect in terms of you getting the opportunity to attend workshops and conferences while you work there. Luckily on International School Community, we have a Benefits Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.
• Professional development allowance details.
Taken from International Community School Addis Ababa (35 Total Comments) school profile page.
There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.
One International School Community member said about working at Mef Int’l School Istanbul: “IBO certified IBDP and PYP training provided. Outside speakers such as Virginia Rojas brought in to provide in house PD.”
Another member said about working at Western International School of Shanghai: “Most teachers don’t get any out of school PD their first year of contract. Depends on the needs of the school.”
Another member submitted a comment about working at American School of Barcelona: “The PD amount is 390 Euros a year. You can roll over this amount for 3 years. But the reality some people get more, it is not so clear cut on who gets what amount and who gets to go to what PD opportunity.”
If you are currently a member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know by submitting some comments and information about the PD allowances at your international school. You can start by logging on here.
Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.
Selecting an international school: Tip #7 – Does the school feature a curriculum that is consistent with your future plans?
What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well? There are many different kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations. How important is finding out about if the school features a curriculum that is consistent with your future career plans? It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview, before you make any big decisions to move or choose a school to work at. So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at? In this blog series we will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.
Tip #7 – Does the school feature a curriculum that is consistent with your future plans?
International schools teach in many different curricula. Some of the most common are the UK, USA, Canada, IPC, PYP, MYP, and IB curricula. Which curriculum is one that is consistent with your future plans? Are you comfortable just continuing teaching in the same one curriculum that you have been teaching in your whole teaching career or do you have aspirations to teach and to gain experience in a different curriculum?
Most of us international school teachers start off in a school that teaches in the same curriculum as your home country. After all, your home country curriculum is what you have the most experience teaching in, and it is also probably the one in which you are the most comfortable. Also, if you work at a school that teaches your home country curriculum, then you will most likely be teaching alongside others who are just like you (which could make you feel “more at home” while living abroad).
There are definitely international school teachers out there that seek out new experiences though and would be risk takers and seek out to try and work at an international school that teaches in a curriculum of which they are not familiar. It definitely broadens your skills in teaching once you start having experiences teaching in different curricula. You may find that your personal teaching philosophy also starts to get modified or solidified even more. You definitely have more “tools” in your teaching “toolbox.” Not only does teaching in the new curriculum change you, it is the people that you interact with at that new school (who might be from a different country and teaching background than you) that influence how you teach your lessons as well.
It is nice to have a couple of different experiences noted on your CV that refer to the different curricula in which you have taught. It is not only good for you so that you grow professionally, but it is also potentially good when job hunting. Only a few cities in the world have more than 20 international schools in them (Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok, etc…) and can offer many different kinds of curricula.
Most cities though only have a handful of international schools (Paris, Chang Mai, Buenos Aires, etc…), mean limited choices for different curricula. If you are interested in working in a specific city in the world and there are only three international schools in that city, then you can for sure “better your chances” of getting a job there if you have previous experience teaching the curriculum at two or all three of those schools. It is not a given though that you will automatically get an interview/the job there of course (if you have experience in that curriculum), but it most definitely might put you on their radar.
With the international schools that teach the IB curriculum, some people say that it is getting increasingly difficult to get a job at these schools if you don’t have previous IB experience. You might have PYP, MYP, and IB as part of your plans in your future teaching career, but many schools are not even considering candidates without previous experience. There definitely have been candidates though who “got their break” and landed a job at an IB school without previous experience in the curriculum. Those candidates say that some directors tell them that if you are a good teacher, then it does not matter one bit if you don’t have previous IB experience. If you are a good teacher in one curriculum, then typically that would mean you are a good teacher in another one (with proper training and PD of course to help you along the way). So, if you are trying to secure a job at an international school that teaches a curriculum that you have no experience in, don’t just give up and not send them your cover letter and CV. You never know truly who they are specifically looking for and of course they aren’t just considering candidates that have previous experience in the curriculum. It might just be that they are not getting enough “ideal” candidates and are already considering candidates without previous curriculum experience.
On our website we have a School Profile Search feature that allows you to search for the schools that teach the curriculum that you are looking for in your next job. You can search by choosing the following curricula: UK, USA, Canada, IPC, PYP, MYP, and IB. We also have an “other” option to search schools that teach a curriculum that is not one of those eight choices. When searching our 1340 international schools (updates on 16 January 2013), we have found the following results regarding curricula:
• There are 435 international schools that teach the USA curriculum.
• There are 413 international schools that teach the UK curriculum.
• There are 57 international schools that teach the IPC curriculum.
• There are 306 international schools that teach the PYP curriculum.
• There are 237 international schools that teach the MYP curriculum
• There are 472 international schools that teach the IB curriculum
• There are 29 international schools that teach the Canada curriculum
• There are 647 international schools that teach the “Other/Host Country” curriculum
If you are an International School Community member, log on today and submit your own search for the curriculum that is consistent with your future plans!
If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and become a part of our over 1600 members. Many of our current members have listed that they have worked at over 200 international schools around the world, schools that teach all 8 of the curriculum search criteria. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions and get firsthand information about what it is like teaching in the curriculum at their international school.
When we choose to live abroad we accept that things in our life situation will be different for us. There will be many things that will be good changes for us and for sure there will be some things that will not be so good and might make us feel uncomfortable. The amount of things that will be different for you depends on your personal background growing up and also where you end up living. Since we all grow up in different countries (and also from different parts of that country) and have different cultural backgrounds, our perspective on what happens to us when living in our host country is definitely going to be varied and different.
One thing that might happen to you when living abroad is that you might find that the locals tend to stare at you a lot. Mostly because you look may look different to them, surely that is what they might stare. You would probably be staring at people that look different from yourself in your home country as well. We don’t necessarily like to admit it maybe, but some might say that it is human nature to stare at other who look characteristically different than you.
But also, there might be a cultural norm difference that comes into play as well. In some cultures it might be commonplace and even accepted to stare at another person in public. Even if it is commonplace for them, it still might make you feel a bit uncomfortable…as it is not a culture norm for your home country. It can be especially uncomfortable if you are getting stared at every day during your life living abroad!
You may start to miss being one of the crowd from you old life living in your home country, making you want to move back sooner than later. You might think twice about getting onto a public bus knowing that it will be jam packed with only locals that enjoy peering and leering at you.
On the other hand, you may welcome the staring and find that you quite enjoy it…being the center of attention. No one stares at your in your home country when you go shopping at your grocery store. No staring might make those weekly visits more monotone and uneventful for you.
But what typically happens most of the time, is that you get used to the staring and start to not notice it so much. It hard to ignore it though when the staring escalates into touching of your hair (if your hair is a radically different color to theirs) or them talking to their friends/family about you in front of your face while pointing at you. The boundaries and cultural norms of how you can interact with strangers in public (that you may be used to) may not exist in your host country culture and it is something you should be aware of and be prepared to experience!
Human being all very inquisitive people, just like many other animals on our planet. We like to figure out things and find out where we belong in a small group, a community, a city, a family, etc. Part of that figuring out where we are and how we fit in most likely involves the staring tactic!
Feel free to leave a comment about your experience being an expat and living abroad in a foreign country. Do the locals tend to stare at you? If you currently live in another country, please take a moment to leave a comment about the host country locals on our website – www.internationalschoolcommunity.com
At International School Community, networking and gathering information is very easy. Get answers about schools that you are interested in by clicking on the school profile page link and sending a message to one of the Members of that school on our website. It’s a great way to get firsthand information! Currently, International School Community members work at or have worked at the following 346 international schools (last updated on 16 December, 2012):
Baku International School
Shape American School
Santa Cruz Cooperative School
Gaborone International School
International School Brunei
American School of Yaounde
Access International Academy (Ningbo)
American International School (Hong Kong)
Beanstalk International Bilingual School
Beijing BISS International School
Beijing City International School
British International School Shanghai – Pudong
Canadian International School (Hong Kong)
Changsha WES Academy
Chinese International School
Concordia International School (Shanghai)
Delia School of Canada
Discovery College (Hong Kong)
Eduwings International Kindergarten
Etonhouse International School Suzhou
Harbin No. 9 High School International Division (Songbei Campus)
Hong Kong International School
International Academy of Beijing
International Montessori School of Beijing
International School of Beijing
The International School of Macao
Jinyuan Senior High School
Nanjing International School
Ningbo Zhicheng School International
Qingdao Ameriasia International School
Quality Schools International Chengdu
Renaissance College Hong Kong
Shanghai American School – Pudong
Shanghai American School – Puxi
Shanghai Community Int’l School
Shanghai Rego International School
Suzhou Singapore International School
Taipei American School
Taipei European School
Tsinghua International School (Beijing)
Utahloy International School Guangzhou
Victoria Shanghai Academy
Western Academy Beijing
Western Int’l School of Shanghai
Wuxi Taihu International School
Xiamen International School
Yew Chung International School (Hong Kong)
Zhuhai International School
American International School in Egypt
British Columbia Canadian International School
Cairo British School
Egyptian British International School
El Alsson British and American International School
International School of Elite Education
Misr American College
Modern English School Cairo
Berlin Brandenburg International School
Berlin International School
Bonn International School
Heidelberg International School
Independent Bonn International School
International School of Dusseldorf
International School of Stuttgart
ISR Internationale Schule am Rhein in Neuss
John F. Kennedy School Berlin
Leipzig International School
Munich International School
American International School Chennai
Dhirubhai Ambani International School
Mercedes-Benz International School
Olive Green International School
Pathways World School
Podar International School
Prudence International School and Jr. College
The Pupil Saveetha Eco School
RBK International Academy
Stonehill International School (India)
The Velammal Intenational Residential School
Trio World School Bangalore
Bali International School
Bandung International School
Bina Bangsa School
BINUS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Simprug
Gandhi Memorial International School
Jakarta International School
Jakarta World Academy
Mount Zaagkam International School
New Zealand International School
Sekolah Pelita Harapan
Sinarmas World Academy
Singapore International School (Indonesia)
Yogyakarta International School
Ambrit-Rome International School
American Overseas School of Rome
Bilingual European School of Milan
The Bilingual School of Monza
Green School Verona
International School Florence
QSI International School of Brindisi
AI International School
ABC International School (Tokyo)
American School in Japan
American School of Tokyo
A’takamul International School
Aoba Japan International School
Canadian Academy (Kobe)
Horizon Japan International School
Nagoya International School
Nishimachi International School
Seisen International School
Tsukuba International School
Yokohama International School
The International Academy
Aga Khan Academy Mombasa
A’takamul International School
Ajial Bilingual School
American Bilingual School
American Creativity Academy
American International School of Kuwait
American School of Kuwait
Canadian Bilingual School
Fawzia Sultan International School
Universal American School
International College Beirut
American School of Antananarivo
Australian International School (AISM)
Cempaka International School
Dalat International School
Fairview International School
Garden International School
Kinabalu International School
Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar
Nexus International School
International School of Johor
International School of Kuala Lumpur
International School of Ulaanbaatar
International School of Islamabad
Al Hada International School
American International School of Jeddah
Dhahran Ahliyya Schools
International Indian School Jeddah
International Schools Group
Jeddah Knowledge International School
American International School of Freetown
Australian International School
Canadian International School (Singapore)
Chatsworth International School
International School Singapore
Singapore American School
Stamford American International School
American School of Barcelona
Benjamin Franklin Int’l School
El Plantio International School Valencia
King’s College – The British School of Madrid
Mar Azul International School
Sunland International School
The English School of Asturias
Woodford International School
Asia Pacific International School
Busan Foreign School
Busan International Foreign School
Chadwick International School – Songdo
Daegu International School
Gyeonggi Suwon International School
Korea International School
Korea International School (Seoul)
Seoul Foreign School
Seoul International School
Taejon Christian International SchoolChadwick International School – Songdoz
American School of Bangkok
Berkeley International School (Bangkok)
British International School (BIS) Phuket
Chiang Rai International School
Hampton International School
International School Bangkok
International School Eastern Seaboard (ISE)
KIS International School (Bangkok)
Lycee Francais de Bangkok
New International School Thailand (NIST)
Regent’s School Bangkok
Ruamrudee International School Bangkok
Shrewbury International School Bangkok
St. John’s International School (Thailand)
Trinidad and Tobago
International School of Port of Spain
United Arab Emirates
Al Ittihad National Private School
Al Raha International School Abu Dhabi
American Academy for Girls (Dubai)
American Community School Abu Dhabi
American School of Dubai
Cambridge High School Abu Dhabi
Cambridge School Doha
Fujairah Private Academy
Ras Al Khaimah Academy
Universal American School (Dubai)
Universal American School in Dubai
Awty International School
Hawaii Preparatory Academy
International Community School (Kirkland)
International school of Boston
International School of Indiana
Lycee International School of Los Angeles
Riverstone International School
Washington International School
Tashkent Ulugbek International School
ABC International School (Vietnam)
Acg International School, Vietnam
American International School (Vietnam)
Canadian International School (Vietnam)
Systems Little House
United Nations International School (Vietnam)
Vietnam American International School
Common Myths and Misconceptions about Bilingual Children #8: If a bilingual child experiences any languages problems in one or both languages, dropping one of the languages will fix the situation.
As teachers working in international schools, we are most likely teaching and working with bilingual children (or even, more likely, multilingual children). Many international school educators also find themselves starting a family; with potentially bilingual children. We all know colleagues that have ended up finding a partner from the host country while living there, getting married to them, and then starting a family. None of us are truly prepared to raise a multilingual family and for sure there are many questions and concerns that we have.
What is the best way then to teach and/or raise bilingual children? What does the research say are the truths about growing up bilingual and how bilinguals acquire both languages?
On the Multilingual Living website, they have highlighted the 12 myths and misconceptions about bilingual children.
Myth #8: If a bilingual child experiences any language problems in one or both languages, dropping one of the languages will fix the situation.
Reality: There is no evidence that this is so. Children who have problems with two languages generally also have them with one.
This myth is a hard sell for teachers, and especially for teachers at an international school. We feel so strongly sometimes about how important a child needs to learn in the primary language of instruction that we forget sometimes the importance of learning in a second language (which could also be their mother tongue language or their third+ language).
Many international schools offer more than one language of instruction. If you are at an IB international school, then you must have more than one language of instruction. This issue then is how to teach two (or more) languages to the same student. Is your international school striving to create ‘emergent bilinguals’ or just striving to have the students become English proficient? We know it is good to have students grow up learning multiple languages, but how do we instruct that child to acquire those languages most effectively? International school administration and staff should be discussing possible answers to this question more often!
Being that acquiring a second language is almost always a bit different for every child, it is hard to tell sometimes what is really the best way instruct that child in a second language. You could also say the same thing when talking about learning in your first language as well; all children learn their first language differently (e.g. different ways, different speed, different learning styles, etc.) too.
Almost all international schools offer classes to instruct their student population in the host country language. The expectation usually is that all students at that school will have the opportunity to learn (and to become proficient) in that host country language and to have the right to attend those classes. Many times though, there are other options for learning during that host country language time for certain students. For example, students that are new-to-the-English language (if the primary language of the international school is English) or struggling readers and writers in English often don’t attend the host country language classes, instead they go to extra English classes or reading and writing intervention classes to help them get ‘caught up’ faster.
Let’s take a look at the new-to-the-English language students. Many teachers believe that learning in this new language (a 2nd, 3rd, etc…) will create problems for the child and that they will get confused. Being that you can’t very well tell if those 3-5 extra classes in English will be in direct correlation to an accelerated growth in their English proficiency, it is hard to justify taking them out of the host country language classes. Additionally, most would agree these new-to-the-English language students don’t actually have language learning problems either. If we take those 3-5 lessons of extra-English support and put them during lessons in context of their regular English classes with their mainstream teacher, that just might be a better way to utilize that support. In addition, those students will then get the opportunity to learn in the host country language as well.
Many times at international schools students don’t go to learn in the second language because of them having language problems in the first language. Teachers typically justify that by limiting the child’s experiences to learning in just one language that it will be of benefit to him/her in the other language…thus making things less complicated and confusing. If we agree though that the solution of dropping one language to help solve the learning problems of the child is a myth, then I wonder how that would change the language learning structure at international schools. We might then come to an agreement that all students, disregarding any language learning problems, should have access to attend classes in a second language or at least the opportunity to become proficient in another language.
Teachers are always looking for the best educational solutions for their students. When it comes to the language acquisition though, there are many myths out there that are still going strong. It might be important to keep in mind that just because you have structured the struggling student’s timetable to only involve learning in one language that doesn’t mean you will have solved this student’s language learning problem. A better strategy might be to find more effective ways of instructing the child in question, and use that strategy disregarding which language that student is learning through/in.
So, what do you think about the topic of bilingual children dropping one of their languages to help fix a language learning problem? Please share your comments. Are you working at an international school right now where this topic is of current interest and attention?