The purpose of this document is to communicate to all stakeholders in our IB community–administrators, teachers, students, and parents–the IB 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.

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 Acquisition

The majority of the  students at St. Mary’s Catholic School are native English speakers who have had exposure and practice with 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 Programme 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 the IB 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. 

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 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 program, providing our school community with a richer global awareness.

Language Instruction in the MYP

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, teachers require students to use English at the highest level on the IB written and oral communications exams and 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

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 September 2022.