Submitted by: Hetal Ascher
Date: November 2021
Photos courtesy of Dulwich College Beijing
Dulwich College Beijing is a beautiful school located in the suburbs of Beijing, one of the largest cities in the world. We teach a British curriculum in our three schools from Nursery to Year 11 and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) in Years 12 and 13, serving more than 1,500 students aged 3 to 18. Our diverse student body is made of students from around the world, including students from China. The majority of our learners are bilingual in English and Mandarin Chinese and many speak other languages including Korean, Malay and Spanish.
In our school, we found a growing need to align the support available for our English learners, so that students moving between the three schools (Early Years, Junior School, and Senior School) experienced coherent support and seamless transition. Additionally, the alignment would support us to work as a more cohesive English as an Additional Language (EAL) team of teachers. We evaluated several options, and in the end chose WIDA because of the robust support it offers to both language and content teachers.
Last spring, more than 20 members of the EAL department took the WIDA Virtual Institute. Each of us worked through the content of the Virtual Institute at our own pace, and, in addition, we met three times throughout the course as a school-based group to discuss how these practices apply to our context. We were supported virtually by EAL expert, Kristina Robertson, who answered our practical application questions and facilitated great reflective discussion.
WIDA’s resources are incredibly vast and each of the three schools chose a slightly different path towards full implementation of WIDA that best suits their age group. For example, in the junior school, our main aim is to support all teachers with WIDA practices and to ensure that the student data is accessible to teachers and being used to support planning and learning. The WIDA Can Do Descriptors and ELD Standards Framework have helped us to highlight the prominent role of language within content. Our Junior School EAL lead utilized the WIDA ELD Standards Framework and Can Do Descriptors to add language objectives alongside the current content objectives. We believe that steps like these bring language to the forefront and have a great impact on teaching and learning!
Currently, we have some co-teaching teams taking the new virtual co-teaching course, “Stretching Your Co-Teaching,” facilitated by Jon Nordmeyer and Andrea Honigsfeld. We hope that this course gives our co-teaching a great boost. We are excited for our next steps and a bright future with WIDA!