English Language Acquisition (ELA)


Our school is a place where we value language within in and beyond the classroom. We value language as the means through which we think and learn. We value language as the means to communicate with others, to understand their cultures, and to include them in all we do. We value language as a means to be creative. And we value the pleasure that comes from the use of rich and expressive language in all its forms.

Our teachers are all language teachers. Together, they help our students become confident users of English, which is the common language of our school. They appreciate that students learn in different ways and therefore use a wide range of teaching methods. We teach our students other world languages, too. These include the language of our host country, China, and other languages from Asia and beyond. Our parents are also language teachers. With support from the school, they also help their children develop their mother tongue.

Our students, teachers and parents understand that the confident and respectful use of language helps us give service to others in a spirit of friendship. We use language to express our own feelings and to appreciate the points of view of others. Thus we may learn from each other and contribute to a better and more peaceful world.



Grades 1-5 students with limited English language proficiency receive a combination of ‘pull-out’ and ‘push-in’ learning support depending on their level of proficiency, as determined by WIDA assessment programme. The emphasis of IST’s ELA support programme is to promote academic English proficiency that will enable learners to access the mainstream curriculum as quickly as possible. ESL teachers work in active collaboration with homeroom and other specialist teachers to support students.

  • Pull Out Support: Students with lower levels of proficiency are pulled out of mainstream classes for up to 2 lessons per day for foundational language support during the mainstream language and literacy time.
  • Push In Support: Students with lower levels of proficiency are also supported by ELA teachers in the mainstream classroom context. Those students who have developed a reasonable degree of language proficiency but who still require support to fully access the curriculum continue to receive push in (or ‘in-class’) support. These students may occasionally be pulled out for specific content support.


ELA in secondary is aligned with the MYP and DP English Language Acquisition courses. Each student’s English language proficiency is determined using the WIDA assessment programme. ELA students in Grades 6-9 are placed into one of three different classes in accordance with their phase of proficiency. ELA students in grade 10 will be placed in two groups. When students have a strong enough English level to exit the ELA program, they are placed in English Language and Literature.

ELA students also attend the Humanities for English as an Additional Language (HEAL) course, which runs parallel with the mainstream Humanities course but are taught by the ELA teachers.