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But math is about numbers...? (Spotlight on Good Practice series)

One of the main challenges in instilling an "every teacher is a language teacher" ethos in schools is building understanding of languages across the curriculum. There is very often a default to EAL/ELL or English departments for language development, with subject-teachers opting out of planning for language development. This is likely in part due to lack of expertise in English language development, and partly due to the time constraints in terms of planning and teaching that all teachers work under. Nonetheless, moving forward in cross-curricular planning for language development is a critical step in creating an environment that supports language development in international schools.

Over the last two years I have delivered CPD sessions at the International School of The Hague (ISH) on integrating language objectives into the curriculum and on developing Working Walls for integrated content and language development. Because I live locally, and have a close working relationship with the school, I occasionally get to visit just to see what they are up to. On one such recent visit I was delighted to see the working wall section in the above photo, featuring talking frames for Mathematics. David Padden, Year 6 teacher, developed this display to scaffold students ability to discuss Mathematics in more developed ways, and engage in conversations that require reflection and explanations of concepts to peers. This is an excellent example of how to build language objectives and learning into a subject area, in this case, for Mathematics. Languages development is critical in this area, and much of higher level learning requires the use of CALP language and processing. By providing students with language scaffolds, he is promoting CALP language development in a concrete manner and ensuring that he is delivering on the "every teacher is a language teacher" mandate that is key to the ISH philosophy.

This display is part of a wider initiative at ISH Primary to develop a language-integrated approach across the curriculum, including explicit planning for language development (English and home languages) in the mainstream classes. An article about their "Identity languages" approach will appear in the Spring issue of the International School Magazine.

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