Focus school: Southbank International School, London, U.K.

Read about a WIDA member school sharing their journey implementing WIDA resources and assessments while celebrating student learning. Learn about this month’s WIDA Focus School.

Southbank is a school whose quality and identity rest on its commitment to the International Baccalaureate program and promotion of international-mindedness. With more than 30 nationalities represented in the student body at our Hampstead and Kensington campuses, our Primary Years Programme provides opportunities for students to study other languages, as well as their own, and become good communicators. We are committed to challenging our students academically, have a liberal ethos and promote the values of the International Baccalaureate.

As IB PYP educators, we are all language teachers. Language is woven into every aspect of our transdisciplinary programme. At Southbank, multiliteracies, multiculturalism and multilingual education are valued and celebrated. Our English as an additional language (EAL) departments work closely with the wider staff to promote the use of translanguaging as an effective tool to promote student progress and language learning outcomes.

Translanguaging requires a culture of collaboration and sharing between students and staff to empower students to use their full language repertoires when learning and socializing. It is therefore very natural to see our Southbank students conferring with each other in one language to fact check their understanding about content and then ‘report back’ to the group in English.

It is not only languages that underpin translanguaging, but the culture, experiences and knowledge that exists across languages that enable us to empower students to bring their ‘entire selves’ into the learning and language learning environments. Students are encouraged to discuss their learning with their parents in their home language. This allows families, for many of whom English is an additional language, to communicate about subjects naturally using the rich ideas and vocabulary of their home languages, without the constraints of English.

Students then confidently carry this diverse knowledge and experience to the classroom to share with their peers. This English-Portuguese poem, written by a grade 2 EAL student from Brazil, plays with the rhythm of language. By using her full language repertoire, this student was able to connect with her peers through poetry.

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