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Bilingual education in real settings: how the ITSW implements CLIL

Since the very beginning of its foundation ITSW has always cared for the real trilingual setting conditions. Since day one trilingualism has been ITSW’s guiding light and base for any educational decision and choices.

ITSW enrolls students from the age of one year. From the very first day students are immersed in the three languages: English and Polish and one language of the choice (of the parents and students): Spanish or Chinese or French or Japanese.

In the early years’ campuses (students aged 1-6) school days are cut in half which totals in 10 halves of the day (9-13 and 13-17 with extension to 7:30-9 and 17-18.30) and spend 40 % of their time immersed in English, 20% of their time immersed in Polish and 40% of their time immersed in either Spanish or Chinese or French or Japanese. During one half of the day “assigned” to a specific language students have contact only with teachers teaching in that language, so there is not code switching/code mixing, which motivates the students to use the language required

ITSW teaching and learning follows four principles:

  • OPOL: one person one language where teachers are native speakers of the languages and they teach only in their native language
  • qualified teachers: all teachers are qualified to work with specific age groups in their country of origin
  • teachers use their native language not only during classes, but during the whole stay of students in the school which guarantees a natural language immersion and communication
  • teachers teach common curriculum in each of the language of instruction

From 1 years olds to 14 years olds the curriculum taught by ITSW is based on a scope and sequence educational plan resulting from a comparison of educational systems. ITSW  realized that there are no better or worse national curricula. By comparing British, French, Polish, Finnish national Curricula, American Common Core and IB standards ITSW managed to define which standards are introduced at which moment of education in each of the curricula mentioned. Once the standards were defined ITSW established the highest standard for a specific subject/topic/theme and adopted these standards as the school’s curriculum defined in school’s scope and sequence. This approach lets ITSW  allow for a seamless transition between educational systems our students come from and transit to.

In the primary school just like in the early years, language is not a goal in itself, it is used as a tool or language of instruction. Some subjects are taught bilingually and some subjects are taught trilingually. Starting from grade 1 to grade 8 (primary school encompasses 8 years of studies in Poland) students are taught mathematics and science in English and in Polish. They are taught language and social studies trilingually in English, Polish and one language of their choice: Spanish or Chinese or French or Japanese. Subjects taught share common educational standards system (Scope and sequence). Students who do not speak the language are offered individualized language learning plan so they can quickly catch up with the mainstream class.  

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