English Language Development


Leveling the Language Playing Field

Most international schools have one thing in common: a body of culturally and linguistically diverse students. TASIS Portugal is one of the most diverse international schools in the country. It could not be easier to promote our mission of global citizenship when students are surrounded by their intercontinental peers every day.

A culturally and linguistically diverse student body reflects the world we live in today. Language is the key to finding common ground and establishing relationships. At TASIS Portugal, English is the language that binds us. Around the globe, it is no secret that English is the language of business, the language of science, and the language of international communications. TASIS Portugal is committed to working with students and parents to level the language playing field for all students.

What is ELD?

With this leveling in mind, TASIS Portugal presents students with a unique opportunity to develop their English skills. English Language Development (ELD) is a course offered to (and sometimes required of) students for whom English is not their first language.

ELD instruction is designed specifically to advance English learners' knowledge and sophistication of use. It helps students acquire advanced proficiency in English to maximize their capacity to engage successfully in academic studies taught in English. Although language learners achieve fluency at different rates, students are expected to exit the ELD program within two years or less. If students have not made sufficient progress during this time, families are required to seek ongoing external support. In addition to improving general English proficiency, TASIS ELD support in middle school puts an extra emphasis on class content in core subjects. Enrollment in ELD is based on testing (WIDA) and determined by TASIS Portugal staff.

Language is Hard!

For some, language--and indeed fluency--can be one of the most difficult skills to achieve. While certain students might absorb the language and apply it perfectly with little effort, the same is not true for everyone. As adults we can attest to the hardships of learning a new language. The frustration we feel when, after months of hard work, we seem to be in one place while our friends or spouses are so clearly further ahead.

Indeed, that CEO seeking to acquire a new language for business purposes is no more inclined to succeed at it than the hobbyist language learner manning the supermarket checkout. We are not cut equally from the same language-learning cloth, which can baffle and confuse us. But the answer here is time, exposure, willingness, and the understanding that we need five years to obtain academic fluency. Less for some, and often more for others.

The Narrative is Important

For some, language--and indeed fluency--can be one of the most difficult skills to achieve. While some students, particularly younger students, might master a new language quickly, the same is not true for everyone. However, time, exposure, and practice are the keys to language development. It typically takes five years to obtain academic fluency.

Read the Student Support Policy


Victoria Bourhill
English Language Development (ELD) Teacher

Victoria is excited to dedicate herself to supporting TASIS Portugal students with their English language acquisition and development. Her roots are in South Africa, where she obtained a degree in journalism. However, Victoria's fascination with English (and other languages) began with her TEFL teaching adventures in Chile, Spain, and Hong Kong.

After realizing that her future lay in education, Victoria became a qualified teaching professional and began a career in the international schooling system. Most recently, Victoria established and coordinated the EAL department of a Lisbon-based international school. This experience further propelled her into the world of learning-support. She is determined to continuously reinforce and explore her field with ongoing professional development at TASIS Portugal. 

Vanessa Teixeira
Learning Support Coordinator

Vanessa studied at Faculdade de Letras in Lisbon, where she got her bachelor’s degree in languages, literature, and culture. Later, she earned her master’s degree in international studies from ISCTE-Lisbon University Institute. She has been passionate about languages from a very young age and has been studying them ever since. After graduating, she discovered her passion for education when she started working as an English teacher in grades 3-9.

Vanessa grew up in Sintra and is happy to share tips with her colleagues regarding this beautiful city. She is incredibly excited to be a part of such a wonderful and talented international community.