Learning English language pretty well may mean at least 5 years of solid English immersion. Even so-called native speakers struggle with their English grades. To increase the students' English proficiency level is a felt need. Undeniably, this is one of the most challenging academic mountains to surmount. The medium of instruction in an international school is English. Hence, there is no other option as far as the "classroom language" is concerned but English-English-English. Academic survival implies a solid grasp of the English language. Basically, any student must have a sufficient level of English comprehension. To this end, we need to work out a system to raise the English proficiency level of our students by forcing our students to "swim".
First, the school puts in place an Early Reading Intervention Program which is enforced school- wide. This is envisioned to provide the language immersion to the students and "water to swim".Speaking skill is learned by speaking just as swimming is learned by swimming in the water andnot on dry ground. Thus, the school encourages parents to work with the teachers by encouraging the children to watch English movies and English TV programs. Motivating students to read English books and leveled readers may help. If we get our children to love reading good books, learning will be really fun and enjoyable. Success is brighter! Second, friendly and reasonable punishments or demerits are integrated to serve as deterrents for students who blatantly refuse to cooperate with the English Speaking Policy on campus. In addition a 3% to 5% grading weight may be integrated in all subjects to serve as a motivator. It is important that we encourage our children to always speak English in school and at home if possible. Since we desire academic success in an international setting we need to get serious with how we help students. We need to employ various approaches to "drill or practice" our students/children just like great athletes who must win. Thus, swimming must be done in the water rather than on dry ground.
There is a great call for all teachers to help improve the speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills of the students. Without these skills, how can students develop the critical thinking skills?
The Early Reading Intervention Program may spell out the tasks/emphases of the elementary teachers in addition to the prescribed standards for mastery learning. Priority tasks for the elementary teachers as regards language development are as follows:
- Grades 1 & 2: Inspire and instill in the children the love for reading good books
- Grade 3: Emphasizing the Early Reading Intervention via various reading strategies with team-teaching
- Grade 4 & 5: Following through the Early Reading Intervention with modified "loafing" and team-teaching
Teachers are required to produce narrative reports or descriptions of each student which include the student difficulty or deficiency in English. This will help the next grade level teacher to follow through and support intelligently any at-risk students. Save them from future failure!