English as a Second Language (ESL) Program

As in most international schools, many students at IST do not use English as their first language and require support to ensure their acquisition of English. To meet this need, we provide an ESL program, allowing students to succeed in an English-based classroom.

Language acquisition is most successful when it takes place in meaningful contexts. IST creates a secure environment where students have the opportunity to acquire and develop language in real life settings alongside fluent English speakers.

ESL students at IST spend most of the school day with their English proficient peers in the mainstream classroom.

When students first apply to the school they are tested to gauge their ability in the English language. If the results show the student needs to improve their English then the student is placed in the ESL program. All ESL students are assessed for their English Language Proficiency on the Language Assessment Scales (LAS Links). Currently, LAS Links testing is carried out upon application to join IST and then periodically throughout the year. Progress testing is carried out periodically throughout the year to monitor the progress of ESL students.


ESL students in Grades 1-5 receive a combination of in-class support and withdrawal support according to their level of individual need as determined by their level of English language proficiency, but they spend the majority of their day in mainstream classrooms. The emphasis of the ESL program is on supporting the mainstream curriculum. During withdrawal lessons, ESL students receive language arts instruction and are pre-taught certain topics prior to having those topics in class. In-class support provides the opportunity for the ESL specialists to assist students with concepts that may be difficult for them because of the English language involved. ESL students attend all specialist lessons with their class. The ESL specialists attend planning meetings in order to collaborate with their grade level teachers.

ESL and Homework

ESL students are held to the same expectations for homework as non-ESL students, with regard to time commitment and quality: all students are expected to complete assigned tasks to the best of their ability, taking into consideration the fact that teachers are expected to differentiate tasks and formative assessment criteria according to the individual needs and abilities of their students.


ESL Exit Criteria

All Kindergarten to Grade 12 students will receive an English language proficiency assessment before exiting the ESL program. The English proficiency of students in the school will be measured using the assessment appropriate for their current grade level.

The decision to exit students from ESL is based upon formal proficiency assessments, school progress reports, and input from relevant academic staff. The following exit criteria provide broad guidelines for exiting ESL based upon formal English language proficiency assessments.

Kindergarten: Level 4 (Proficient Oral only)

Grades 1-5: Level 4 (Proficient). Students will, in most cases, be expected to score a minimum of Level 3 (Intermediate) in all four areas of the assessment (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). Class and subject feedback is also taken into consideration before a student is exited. In grades 6-10, a speaking assessment, a class participation assessment and subject semester grades are also part of the exit procedure.

ESL School-Wide Assessment and Reporting

IST acknowledges its responsibility to meet the individual language learning needs of all of its student body. This is achieved by employing a variety of strategies, including the provision of ESL withdrawal and in-class support, offering different language courses according to English language proficiency level (for example, IB MYP English Language A, English Language B and English Language B Foundation), and providing differentiated instruction and assessment tasks.

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