Hamilton Hill International Kindergarten challenges students to become responsible and effective world citizens. We strive to empower our learners through their learning journey at Hamilton Hill to become internationally minded individuals. We recognize that language is fundamental to the success of all student learning. The development of language supports and enhances students’ thinking and understanding to construct meanings and connect all of our PYP curriculum elements. This language policy is intended to provide an overview of language learning at Hamilton Hill International Kindergarten. It is written in line with the principles and practices of the International Baccalaureate (IB).
At Hamilton Hill International Kindergarten, we recognize 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. Students’ 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. Therefore, we are committed to involving language in all learning that goes on in a school. Language is the most significant connecting element across the school curriculum, both inside and outside our transdisciplinary programme of inquiry. Language is taught through the relevant, authentic context of the unit of inquiry in Hamilton Hill. We provide language learning opportunities to students that support their inquiries and the sharing of their learning. We plan meaningful and enjoyable language learning experiences for students that enable them to make connections, apply their learning, and transfer their conceptual understanding to new situations.
Language provides a vehicle for inquiry. Teachers and students in Hamilton Hill International Kindergarten enjoy using language and appreciate it both functionally and aesthetically. Students develop the ability to express themselves (communicate) through speaking, reading, writing, mark-making, acting, and more. Students benefit from experiencing different opportunities to use language through inquiry-based learning, including research, role-play, science and art. All of our teachers work together to make sure that language is developed through integrated and inquiry-based learning.
Language of Profile
Hamilton Hill International Kindergarten strives to develop a caring language community in which all students feel accepted and confident that they will be supported by others in learning a language and in taking risks. Hamilton Hill is a culturally and linguistically diverse school, which provides education for students from different nations with more than 5 different languages currently being spoken. Teachers and staff at Hamilton Hill also come from many countries including Japan, France, England, Scotland, America, Australia, Hong Kong, China and speak several languages. We respect different languages to be used in our school. We believe that acquisition of more than one language enriches personal development and helps facilitate international-mindedness.
Language of Instructions
English is the primary language of instruction throughout Hamilton Hill International Kindergarten. English is also the language used in school publications, on our website, in communication between school and parents, and between members of staff. Children will be exposed to a rich English learning environment at Hamilton Hill in which all of our staff and teachers speak English for daily conversations. We ensure the lessons and learning activities support students to improve their English language proficiency. The language strands at Hamilton Hill International Kindergarten align with the IBPYP strands of Oral (Listening and Speaking), Visual (Viewing and Presenting) and Written (Reading and Writing) language. We acknowledge that both the receptive and expressive aspects of the language strands are important so the teachers plan and develop a balanced English learning programme for our students. We believe that learning language is a developmental process. Our teachers make use of and apply the Language Scope and Sequence document which presents a set of developmental continuums as the diagnostic tools to assist us in planning language learning experiences for students, and in monitoring students’ English language development.
Chinese as an Additional Language
As an international school situated in Hong Kong, we are strongly committed to providing students with access to Chinese language learning and utilizing the host country and community for language and cultural experiences throughout the curriculum. Hamilton Hill International Kindergarten has one part-time Chinese teaching assistant who leads Chinese lesson for 15 minutes for each class plus integrated translation throughout the morning lessons every day. Chinese language learning at Hamilton Hill is delivered using a range of methods, including whole class and small group learning. Activities such as songs, games, and other language-rich activities are provided for students. The Chinese curriculum is planned collaboratively with the class teachers to ensure it is effectively integrated within the units of inquiry. The curriculum is centered on the speaking of and listening to Chinese and is planned to teach children keywords and phrases in Chinese.
Support Mother-Tongue Languages
The development of mother-tongue language is crucial for cognitive development and in maintaining cultural identity. It also has the potential to increase intercultural awareness and understanding, and enables students to remain in touch with, and maintain esteem for, the language, literature, and culture of their home country. Therefore, Hamilton Hill International Kindergarten values our students’ mother languages and own cultures. We believe that parents are our very own mother-tongue experts at home and they are particularly essential in supporting mother-tongue development. They can provide help to ensure that their children continue to develop their mother-tongue skills to the age-appropriate levels. We encourage parents to focus on using their mother-tongue consistently at home, providing as many mother-tongue experiences as possible for their child. We provide parents with the information of current Unit of Inquiry and classroom activities/experiences through the communication in handbooks and seesaw app, so parents can discuss the Unit of Inquiries in the mother-tongue at home.
Essential Agreements for teaching language
We consider all Hamilton Hill International Kindergarten teachers to be language teachers and the language development of our students to be the shared responsibility of teachers, parents, and students. All students at Hamilton Hill:
- are encouraged to speak more than one language
- are encouraged to develop a love of language and literature in all tongues
- are given the opportunity to use all their language skills at school and are encouraged to do so
- are encouraged to express themselves, orally and in writing, in a variety of media and situations
- are provided with problem-solving experience and encouraged to take risks in using languages
- are continually exposed to relevant and positive vocabulary/model of language both visually and orally
- are learning languages in a safe and stimulating learning environment
- taught with open-minded attitude from teachers and peers
- are given access to specific language support (ongoing assessment and early intervention where necessary)
- are given time to reflect on their learning
- are encouraged to share and develop their work in a social context
- are encouraged to explore language through different Unit of Inquiries and subject areas
- are given constructive and specific feedback from teachers
- are encouraged to view language as a tool for learning
(Hamilton Hill International Kindergarten Essential Agreement, 2017)
*The Language Policy is reviewed annually.
International Baccalaureate Organization (2009). A curricular framework for international primary education. Making the PYP Happen. Cardiff, UK: Peterson House.
International Baccalaureate Organization (2009). Language scope and sequence. Cardiff, UK: Peterson House.