To communicate to all stakeholders in our IB community-administrators, teachers, students, and parents-the programme’s expectations for fostering language growth as required by IB in the context of the Middle Years Programme and the Catholic Diocese of Richmond.

At St. Mary’s Catholic School, we aim to promote intercultural awareness and international mindedness, in an environment which may also support a different mother tongue and languages students may choose to explore on their own. Teachers may serve as mentors for any additional language learning. 

A few of our students who arrive at Saint Mary’s have limited proficiency in English. These students are learning and supported in both English and their native tongue at home and at school. 

Preservation of a student’s native language and culture is respected in order to support the student’s family relationships, community relationships and to promote diversity in our programme, providing our school community with a richer global awareness.

Our commitment is to ensure language acquisition for all students. Through our language programme students acquire the ability to think critically, learn and develop social skills and values, and to acquire knowledge.


Mother-Tongue – The language that a student uses as their first or preferred language outside of the classroom.

Language and Literature – One of the eight disciplines offered in the MYP where students use language as a vehicle for creativity thought and reflection, self- expression and social interaction.

Language Acquisition – One of the eight disciplines that aim to help students to gain proficiency in an additional language and learning the cultural heritage.

Language Acquisition

 At St. Mary’s Catholic School, we recognize the benefit for students being able to express themselves in more than one language and to develop cultural understanding. The majority of the students at St. Mary’s Catholic School are native English speakers who have had exposure and practice with both French and Spanish since Junior Kindergarten. A small percentage of students are bilingual, having acquired both English and a second language since birth. French and Spanish instruction continues through the 8th Grade (MYP 3).

In the Middle Years Program students choose to enroll in either three instructional years of Spanish or three instructional years of French. Students have Language Acquisition class every day, with a total of at least 100 hours of instruction in either French or Spanish for all three years of our programme.  

Students have the opportunity to achieve at the highest IB level of Phases 1, 2, 3 or higher. Differentiation is encouraged through the scaffolding of the IB Objectives and Criteria of MYP Phases 1, 2, and 3, as outlined in the Subject Guides for Language Acquisition. Students learn to communicate in the target language through reading, speaking, singing, listening, watching authentic and teaching media, and kinesthetic activities. 

At the conclusion of their MYP 3 experience, high school credit is earned for completion of two years in French or Spanish, Level 1.

Language Instruction in the MYP

The development of Language and Literature is necessary in order for students to make interdisciplinary connections.  All students are required to complete the Language and Literature coursework. In the IB MYP subjects, students are taught using a variety of teaching platforms. This could include reading textbooks, interactive note taking, cooperative learning activities, projects, reflective responses and a host of digital learning formats. In each subject area, students use English on written and oral communications, exams and other assessments.

Each Saint Mary’s student receives over 250 hours of Language and Literature instruction per school year. Classwork is conducted in English, but world cultures are represented through literature via translation, and in our ongoing study of language derivation. Inclusion of non-native English speakers is pursued through the accommodations of tutoring and curricular modifications.

Timelines and procedure for review of policy/who developed the policy

This Assessment policy was developed by Carole Forkey (IB MYP Coordinator) and the IB Middle school teachers who teach in the IB MYP at Saint Mary’s Catholic School, in Richmond, Virginia. The policy will be reviewed annually for updates to policy and procedures.

Last updated January 2023.