Submitted by: Denise Sullivan
Date: August 2021
Photos courtesy of Beijing City International School
Beijing City International School (BCIS) was founded in 2005 and recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary. The BCIS mission is to challenge and empower students to be compassionate and inspired people, who act for the good of all and for the sustainable development of the world. BCIS is widely respected as an inclusive school offering a model cosmopolitan education. As such, we serve a diverse range of students from China and around the world, the vast majority of whom are multilingual learners.
Our staff reflects the diversity of our student population. While BCIS is an English language curriculum school, nearly all students also take Chinese as a native or additional language, though Spanish is also offered at the high school level.
BCIS uses WIDA MODEL to assess and monitor English language proficiency, providing insight into what students are capable of, as well as giving guidance when planning and delivering instruction. The data from WIDA MODEL has helped both our English as an Additional Language team (EAL) and the homeroom/content teachers to scaffold learning experiences so that the needs of all students are met in a meaningful and purposeful way. BCIS also uses WIDA Can Do Descriptors to set learning targets for students and to differentiate instruction.
In the elementary school division of BCIS, using WIDA not only provides an assessment across all domains in language development; it also allows us to help with assessment between school divisions with a common standardized English test. This can help in the transition of upper elementary students into the secondary and ensure they receive the correct support and classes for their language needs. We can also observe growth over the time, as tracking the data allows for teachers to closely monitor students' progress. Teachers can check previous results and observe any specific areas that are not developing as expected.
“Using WIDA as an assessment gives us a common language to discuss student needs and planning to teach.” – Grade 5 EAL teacher
As an IB World school, students in the secondary school pursue different language pathways, depending on their educational backgrounds and linguistic experiences. Students who are fluent in English take language and literature classes, while students who are still acquiring English take language acquisition classes. Once students have gained English proficiency, they typically move from language acquisition to language and literature classes. Students who are still learning English may also get support from bilingual teaching assistants in content classes to assure equal access to the curriculum.
Using the WIDA Key Language Uses and WIDA English Language Development Standards Framework, EAL teachers co-plan with content teachers to scaffold instruction and further support integration of content and language across the curriculum. At BCIS, all teachers are responsible for the language development and learning outcomes of all students.
“WIDA has given us many tools and resources to help us look toward the future with a common lens as we support our multilingual learners.” – Secondary EAL Teacher
Since most students at BCIS are multilingual learners, translanguaging is a natural way of communication both in and outside the classroom. We value all languages and their cultural and literary contexts, and we encourage our students to achieve multilingualism.
Proficiency in the mother tongue is paramount to the development of cultural identity and to providing the building blocks for learning additional languages. Our language teaching aims to prepare global citizens who are able to use all modes of literacy to express their own learning and opinions and to understand and appreciate the learning and opinions of others.
Beijing City International School (BCIS) first appeared as a WIDA Focus School in September 2016.