Things are shifting in English speaking international schools. Increasingly, their intake is no longer children of expats, but children from the local communities. In fact, of the 3.5 million students in international schools, over 2.5 million of these are local children seeking a quality, English-speaking education as a means to acquiring a place at one of the world’s respected universities.
We spoke with Edward Bantry-White, principal of DSB International School in Mumbai, India, who confirmed that he has seen a 30 per cent increase in the last year alone in the number of local children applying to his school.
But what does this mean for EAL learners for whom lessons being delivered in English could add another level of complexity to learning? It can be daunting when both the language and the subject matter being taught are both new. Then there is the consideration that a language is not just a set of vocabulary; it is intrinsically linked with a culture or cultures that might also be unfamiliar.
It’s not easy to bridge this language gap, but here are some starting points that you could consider:
- Get ready for that Oscar and re-enact stories for younger children. This adds much more colour and understanding to simply reading a story aloud, helping students to grasp the central concept and infer any messages
- Two heads are better than one, so classroom games that require teamwork can be conducive to aiding language acquisition and helping to promote collaboration and friendship; try joint puzzle solving, crosswords, wordsearches or scrabble to get you started
- Build in a bit of history: incorporating local culture and history can help ground understanding for the locals, and introduce something new for the expat students
- Encourage some ‘friendly competition’. Setting a competition is a great way of motivating all students, as it gives them a chance to practice, demonstrate their knowledge or progress and to have their achievement celebrated!
- Why not get techy? High-quality educational technologies can help to facilitate language learning by tapping into the key three learning styles – auditory, visual and kinaesthetic – and students can learn at the pace that is most comfortable for them
Do you work in an international school? Do you find that your student demographic is shifting? We’d love to hear how you tackle this change!