English Language Acquisition (ELA)
VIS provides support to students who are in the process of acquiring English through the English Language Acquisition (ELA) Program. The program is based on a "Sheltered Immersion" model, which research has shown to be most effective in language development. The Sheltered Immersion model means that students with limited English attend classes with their English speaking peers so that they can be immersed in the English Language. Shelter is provided through withdrawal classes and in-class support given by specialist teachers. While the schedule of support looks different in Primary and Secondary, the model is the same, with the ELA specialist teachers assisting the student to be successful in the mainstream classes.
The principle goal of the ELA program at VIS is for students to acquire sufficient competence in English to succeed in their studies at levels comparable to those of their non-ELA peers. The program provides essential support to students from non-English-speaking backgrounds.
High Level/Low Level Support
Students will typically receive high level specialist support for several years while acquiring English. After students demonstrate a level of proficiency they will receive low level support for a continuing period. A typical student will take 5-7 years to acquire full fluency in another language.
ELA in the Primary Years Program
For primary students there is no minimum English language requirement for enrollment. There are limitations placed on the number of students within the ELA program in each grade level to ensure that appropriate support can be provided. ELA students are assessed before once enrolled to determine the level of support that will best benefit the student. ELA support may be conducted individually or in small groups in the classrooms as well as in the ELA room.
ELA in the Middle Years Program
For Secondary students there are increasing requirements for English proficiency through the grade levels. Students must have sufficient English proficiency to be successful within the level of ELA support provided. Limitations are placed on the number of students in the ELA program in each grade.
ELA in the Diploma Program
Students in the Diploma program require English proficiency. The ELA specialist are available to assist students, however the level of ELA support in the final two years of school is very limited.
Learning Support for Students
As an International Baccalaureate World School VIS affirms ‘that all students should be allowed to learn and to demonstrate their ability under conditions that are as fair as possible. Some students will require different teaching and assessment arrangements due to special needs.’
The Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma programs aim to be as flexible as possible in providing appropriate curriculum, teaching methods and resources for the wide range of capabilities, prior learning and different learning styles of our students within mainstream classes. Additionally, VIS offers some limited support for students with special education needs.
Continuous communication, collaboration and commitment are central to learning support at VIS. An Inclusive Learning Support Team (ILS) at VIS may include:
- Learning Support Teacher
- English Language Acquisition Teacher
- Primary and Secondary Principal
- PYP, MYP or DP Coordinators
- School counselor
The Learning Support Teacher works to develop and implement specific teaching and learning strategies to accommodate individual student’s needs. The level of support provided by the Learning Support Teacher (e.g. consultation, in-class support and/or withdrawal) is in the best interest of the student and within limitations of the program and resources. Support programs are documented in Individual Educational Plans. A student’s progress is monitored and their program is reviewed regularly.
MYP and DP Special Provisions
VIS is guided by the International Baccalaureate's belief that all students be allowed to demonstrate their ability under assessment conditions that are as fair as possible. Generally, students with learning support needs must complete all course requirements to receive an MYP or DP record of achievement, certificate or diploma.
Social and Emotional Counseling
Counseling at VIS takes a three-pronged approach in that not only is emotional support available to students but also to the care takers of children, the parents and the teachers. The philosophy behind the counseling of students at VIS is that the emotional needs of children go hand in hand with the academic needs. In other words, if students are distracted by an emotional concern it will be difficult to focus their energy and attention on the academic task at hand in the classroom.
The role of the VIS Counselors is to provide social and emotional counseling to both Primary and Secondary students. This can be initiated through student request, teacher request, and parental request or via the counselors’ observations. Clear procedures are implemented to ensure that the communication occurs between appropriate parties.
VIS feels that it is important to have available an adult who is viewed as safe and trustworthy by students so that they can talk through troubling issues of concern. Being able to express their worries often allows them to return to the classroom with a greater degree of emotional balance which enables them to work more enthusiastically in the academic realm. It is important to be aware that young people from the ages of 11 to 18 are experiencing profound physical and psychological changes as they move through puberty and into early adulthood. Because of these changes, issues that may seem trivial to an adult take on huge proportions in the mind of an adolescent.
Primary care is provided by teachers and the counselors support the teachers by meeting with the student at any time via teacher, student or parent request.
Parent as Partners
We believe in working with parents in partnership in support of all of our students. Parents are welcome to attend sessions facilitated by the counselors. The content of these sessions vary and aim to help parents discuss methods of respectful discipline, skills for clear, honest communication, concrete strategies to prevent risky behavior and how to be an encouraging presence in the life of their children.