Introduction and Purpose: 

The purpose of this document is 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.

Since language is the key to all learning, all teachers at Saint Mary’s Catholic School are language teachers.  Because the language of Saint Mary’s culture is English, the language of instruction is English.  Language Acquisition begins in Kindergarten with both French and Spanish and continues alternating with one or the other through the 8th Grade (MYP 3).  Since both Saint Mary’s mission and the mission of IB is to promote intercultural awareness and international mindedness,  the environment may also support a different mother tongue and languages students may choose to explore on their own.  Teachers may serve as mentors for additional language learning.

Through language, students acquire the ability to think critically, learn and develop social skills and values, and to acquire knowledge.  Students use language as the vehicle to explore course content through the six IB Global Contexts, and to make connections that lead to becoming life-long learners who exhibit and grow in the ten Learner Profile traits.

Language Profile at Saint Mary’s:

The majority of our students are native English speakers who have had exposure and practice with French and Spanish since Kindergarten.

A small percentage of students are bilingual, having acquired both English and another language since birth.

A few of our students arrive at Saint Mary’s with limited proficiency in English, who are learning English both 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.

Language Instruction in the Subject Areas: 

In all subjects, students “consume” information through reading textbooks and instructional materials, write responses to inquiry in that field, and participate in dialogue in that subject.  In each subject area, teachers require students to use English at the highest level on the IB written and oral communications exams and assessments.

Language and Literature:

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.


Second Language Acquisition:

Second Language Acquisition continues in 6th grade. Students at Saint Mary’s have taken both French and Spanish in all years of the elementary experience.  Once in 6th grade, students may choose either French or Spanish.  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, students take an examination to earn high school credit for French or Spanish Level 1.







This language policy was revised in 2018-2019 and will be revised annually, by the HOS, the MYP Coordinator, all Language and Literature and Language Acquisition Teachers.