ESL stands for English as a Second Language and involves the teaching of English to a person whose native or primary language is one other than English. Like many international schools in Hong Kong, some of our students require special assistance in the learning of English. KIS has a vibrant and highly successful English as a Second Language Programme, whereby students who are lacking the fundamentals of the language are taught in small groups by ESL teachers using a specially-designed curriculum.
Assessment of New Students:
All new students to the school are required to take an English assessment with one of the ESL teachers before joining the school. This is done on the same day that they have the interview with the Principal. The result of this test determines which English group the student will be placed in. For this placement test, the Primary WRAP and Intermediate WRAP (Writing and Reading Assessment Profile) are used. These are internationally recognised assessment tools that clearly demonstrate the English level of each student, enabling the teacher to make an accurate recommendation about the placement of a student.
The ESL programme at KIS has been designed to give the appropriate support to students in need so as to enable them to flourish in an English-speaking environment. Students are required to recognise and use the fundamentals of the language, and once these have been attained students are pulled out of the ESL programme and continue with their English studies in the mainstream class. Every student assigned to ESL receives a comprehensive English programme: major areas of study include a focus on phonics/pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, reading, writing, listening and speaking. For both primary and secondary ESL students, there are fun activities present in every class as they enable students to maintain their level of enthusiasm for learning a language.
For the 2012-2013 academic year, KIS is using age and level-appropriate course books from Cambridge University Press. These course books form the core of the programme, providing a detailed look at the language and also extra assessment of the students’ progress in English. These exciting courses are packed with activities that are fun, dynamic and involving. There are lively characters in the books that help young children and teenagers understand and enjoy whilst learning.
The ESL department also uses a range of photocopiable materials from Cambridge. KIS has resource books of supplementary activities for practising language skills with younger learners and teenagers. The intention with using these books is to provide enjoyable task-based activities that make learning fun, while exploiting children’s innate capacity to assimilate new information.
After School ESL:
The school also has an active after school programme for ESL students designed around another Cambridge product, the Cambridge ESOL courses, where students can move through the different levels between Year 1 and Year 9 (Starters, Movers, Flyers, KET and PET). At the end of each level, students are evaluated and issued certificates that recognise their accomplishments, and these ESOL certificates are globally recognised and valid for life.
These after school ESL classes are held twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays between 3:10pm and 4:10pm, and are taught by experienced teachers who are working at KIS. Students cover all the grammar, vocabulary and spelling skills that learners need for these external exams, with a minimum of a month spent doing exam preparation before the sitting of the exam. Information concerning these ESOL exams is sent out to parents towards the end of the second term.
Every primary and secondary ESL student receives regular homework, and this will be once, twice or three times per week depending on the age of the student. Parents and guardians are asked to check the KIS website daily so that they know what homework has been assigned and when it needs to be submitted.
Assessment / Testing:
All students are assessed and tested regularly. Students’ progress in ESL is monitored by way of ongoing formative and summative assessments, such as teacher observations and formal regular evaluations. Secondary ESL students are also required to sit an exam at the end of each term, and this result determines whether or not they remain in ESL or can be pulled out of the programme and placed in the mainstream English class.
Parents of primary ESL students need to understand that students remain in the ESL class until the ESL and Homeroom teachers are completely satisfied that they have acquired the language fundamentals, and would be able to cope with the majority of the work in the mainstream classes. Only when both teachers are convinced that a student can function properly in the mainstream class will a child be pulled out of the programme. A letter will be sent to parents when this decision has been made.
If you have any questions concerning ESL provision in the International Section at KIS, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Mr. Howard Reddy
Korean International School – International Section