PYP Language

What the PYP believes about learning language

The need to communicate is instinctive. The development of language is fundamental to that need to communicate; it supports and enhances our thinking and understanding. Language permeates the world in which we live; it is socially constructed and dependent on the number and nature of our social interactions and relationships.

The learning process simultaneously involves

  • learning language

    as learners listen to and use language with others in their everyday lives

  • learning about language

    as learners grow in their understanding of how language works and

  • learning through language

    as learners use language as a tool to listen, think, discuss and reflect on information, ideas and issues.
    (Halliday 1980).

An appreciation of these aspects of language learning may help teachers better understand and enhance students’ learning. However, these three aspects are so inextricably linked they are best not thought of as discrete processes.

Language plays a vital role in the construction of meaning. It empowers the learner and provides an intellectual framework to support conceptual development and critical thinking. In the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), it is recognized that the teaching of language should be in response to the previous experience, needs and interests of the student, rather than the consequence of a predetermined, prescriptive model for delivering language. Fragmenting learning into the acquisition of isolated skill sets can create difficulties for learners—for example, learners may be able to read, write and spell words correctly in isolation but may not be able to read, write or spell those same words in other contexts.

Learners’ needs are best served when they have opportunities to engage in learning within meaningful contexts, rather than being presented with the learning of language as an incremental series of skills to be acquired.

At ARIS, the language profiles of students in are complex and diverse. The influence of mother-tongue development is significant for all learners. Development of mother-tongue language is crucial for cognitive development, and in maintaining cultural identity. Success in mother-tongue development is a strong predictor of long-term academic achievement, including acquisition of other languages.

English as an Additional Language (EAL) Program

Our students come to us with diverse cultural identities and language skills. English as an Additional Language (EAL) Program at ARIS is designed to help all our students to integrate into an English-speaking environment and to fully access all curriculum areas.

EAL program in a nutshell:

  • Different forms of assessment help us to identify students who need English language support and how best to provide this help
  • Differentiated lessons may be given in the Year level classroom
  • Separate lessons are given as needed
  • Lessons are pre-planned in collaboration with class teachers
  • Ongoing support in flexible groupings responds to individual students’ needs
  • Individual Language Plans are prepared to set targets which a reviewed twice a term
  • Parents receive formal reports and feedback on their child's EAL progress

English as an Additional Language (EAL) Program Description

  • At Al-Rayan International School, we welcome students from around the world. Our students come to us with diverse cultural identities and language profiles. The English as an Additional Language (EAL) department seeks to assist students in integrating into an English-speaking environment so that they feel comfortable at our school. An equally important concern is to enable students to access all curriculum areas. Therefore, EAL students attend most classes with their peers.
  • In order to enable students to develop confidence, skills and knowledge, EAL teachers work alongside class teachers to plan, teach and assess students’ understanding of our curriculum. In addition, EAL teachers instruct students in fundamental English skills in differentiated language lessons.


  • English support takes place in the form of differentiated lessons in the Year level classroom and in separate lessons as needed.
  • Students who are considered as beginners, are given special English lessons by the EAL teachers in the Special English class.

Planning and Communication

  • English support lessons are pre-planned in collaboration with class teachers.
  • Class teachers collaborate with the EAL teachers to create the Individual Language Plan which identifies the areas of concern with the set targets that are reviewed bi-termly.

Flexible Groupings

  • Flexible groupings are used to provide ongoing support in response to students’ needs as identified by any teacher or parent. We use different forms of assessment to identify those students who need English language support and how best to provide this help.Reporting
  • EAL teachers formally report on students currently receiving support. A report is sent bi weekly to the Head of Primary.The reports reflect on the support currently received by the students, as well as the EAL teacher’s observations on the students’ ability to access the curriculum. In addition, EAL teachers attend parent-teacher conferences and include learning with the EAL teacher in the students’ portfolios.


  • Al-Rayan believes that students learn language, about language and through language. Listening, speaking, reading and writing are not separate but inter-related. Our approach to teaching language is holistic. Grammar is taught in context, often related to something the students are writing, and also when speaking, listening and reading.
  • All teachers at the school are considered to be language teachers, not only the EAL teachers.
  • As students begin their English language learning process, we recognise that each one of them comes to us with a wealth of knowledge and skills. We encourage students to use their mother tongue to develop English skills. For this reason, we allow students to use their own language when appropriate. For higher Primary students, we expect them to use bilingual dictionaries and other reference materials in their mother tongue to assist their learning.
  • Teachers who speak the mother tongue assist in translation for a period of time till the student can understand the basic spoken English.
  • In the early stages of learning a language, learners may go through what is called ‘the silent stage.’ We respect this. As students begin to speak in English, we celebrate their courage. In the process of learning English, students will make mistakes. We recognize that making mistakes is an essential part of learning needed to develop language skills.
  • At ARIS, we use literature from around the world to embrace the student body’s multiculturalism. English support incorporates the various genres of literature and may connect to the current unit of inquiry studied in the class at that time.