English Language Development

Levelling the Language Playing Field

If international schools have one thing in common, it is culturally and linguistically diverse student bodies. TASIS Portugal loves the fact that, Antarctica aside, we’ve got all the continents covered! It couldn’t be easier to promote our mission of global citizenship when students are simply surrounded by their inter-continental peers, day in and day out.

A culturally and linguistically diverse student body reflects the world we live in today. And in order to find common ground and establish relationships - language is key. At TASIS Portugal, and around the globe, English is the language that binds us. It’s no secret that it is the language of business, it’s the language of science, the language of international communication. TASIS Portugal is committed to levelling the language playing field so that students from assorted linguistic backgrounds may eventually perform with equal proficiency.

What is ELD

With this levelling in mind, TASIS Portugal present students with a unique opportunity to develop their English skills. English Language Development (ELD) is a curricular course offered, and sometimes recommended, to students for whom English is not the first - or even second - language. It is offered at the middle school level, from grades five to eight, for those who require a deeper dive into the intricacies of the language. ELD instruction is designed specifically to advance English learners’ knowledge and use of English in increasingly sophisticated ways. It will help students acquire English to an advanced proficiency level which will maximize their capacity to engage successfully in academic studies taught in English. A strong working relationship with the English language is perhaps one of the most valuable things that a student can take from secondary education.

Language is Hard

For some, language - and indeed fluency - can be one of the hardest 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 here while our friends or spouses are so clearly there – further ahead. Indeed, that CEO looking to acquire a new language for business purposes is no more inclined to succeed at it than the hobbyist language learner manning checkout at the supermarket. 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

Let the take-home message be this: there should be no stigma attached to ELD. While it might be natural for a student to feel singled out or victimized by an ELD recommendation, we strongly recommend that parents and teachers work together in changing this narrative to a more positive one. A narrative that is about exposing and highlighting a child’s language aptitude rather than the opposite.