St. John’s is an international school that provides an English language education. We serve many different nationalities and are sensitive to the challenges new families that move to our school might have, especially with language. To combat these issues for new families whose children have no or limited English language skills, our Elementary School provides an English as an Additional Language (EAL) program to help children learn the basic English needed to adapt to their new social and academic needs.
We keep the class sizes small so that the children can feel relaxed and comfortable in their initial language learning stages. In these small classrooms, they are given support and encouragement to learn and practice new vocabulary and phrases that they will need to communicate with friends and teachers. The small student-teacher ratio allows for a positive learning environment and safe place to practice basic skills, demonstrating what they know.
Teachers organize the lessons to build up vocabulary and expressions using all 4 language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students are engaged in their learning through songs, poems, games, stories, interactive white board activities, and reading and writing activities. There is a collaborative atmosphere as the students work and learn from each other. The teachers focus on what the students can do; celebrating individual successes which then lead to stronger engagement, personal motivation and continual progress.
Our EAL program teachers have noticed that students who are strong in their mother tongue are able to attach their English learning to the concepts learned in their home language. This is why it is important for parents not to neglect the development and literacy skills of the mother tongue which transfer to English. Making connections to previous knowledge helps to anchor the English learning, build self-confidence and develop cognitive capacities for students learning this new language.