Focus school: Marist Brothers International School

Submitted by: Stephanie Hanamura, head of lower school
Date: April 2022

At Marist Brothers International School (MBIS), and IBO World school in Kobe, Japan, we believe all students are language learners. In order to assess and support the language proficiency of students and determine individual strengths, MBIS chose to use WIDA MODEL as part of our admissions practice. We use the assessment to determine which students we feel will be able to be adequately supported in mainstream classrooms, and which students will need more specialized language programs.

At MBIS, we believe in order for all students to equitably access the mainstream curriculum, we need to clearly understand where they are in the language learning process. WIDA provides excellent tools to helps us determine precisely where students are in this journey. Once we have determined the starting point of a student, our educators work closely with one another, and with students, to support their development of the English language.

Although MBIS is still in the early stages of using WIDA standards and other WIDA tools to support our students, our teachers have begun to use WIDA’s asset-based approach when co-planning together. The WIDA Can Do Philosophy helps us to develop targeted language programs for students with emergent language needs, as well as more inclusive and integrated co-teaching approaches for students whose English language is proficient enough to access the general curriculum.

Teachers in our English language department, along with our English as an additional language (EAL) specialists, and lower school head have completed the WIDA Virtual Institute.

“I was very impressed with the practical nature of the Virtual Institute. You are given a range of tools to use in the co-planning and co-teaching process from day 1.” – lower school EAL teacher

The conversations that have taken place around learning have led to teachers working together to create a template for a Can Do Student Portrait. We are now looking at ways to most efficiently use the portraits within our school. More teachers are now inquiring about the WIDA Virtual Institute and the excitement is spreading.

Being a part of the WIDA International School Consortium allows us access to several virtual professional learning opportunities and links to recorded webinars two to three days after the live session. As we are based in Japan, the recorded webinars offer our community opportunities to stay engaged with the international professional learning.

The introduction of WIDA to our school has had a positive impact on helping us understand our students and prospective students to our school. When teachers have clearer information about the language ability of their students, it leads to using the best supports for the needs of individual students. We are looking forward to continuing our journey as a WIDA member school.

International schools in Asia also have the opportunity to connect with Mark Chapman, WIDA senior assessment innovation manager. Mark would love to connect with teachers and learn more about how they use WIDA assessments. He can also introduce your school to exciting new research and resources from WIDA, and help you understand why so many international schools worldwide tell us they value being part of the WIDA global network.

Please email us at for more information!

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