Language Policy

    IB Career-Related and Diploma Programme
    Language Policy

    School Profile
    Suncoast Community High School located in Palm Beach County, Florida is a four-year college preparatory high school for grades 9-12. Since 1989, Suncoast has maintained four magnet programs; Computer Science (CS), Innovative Interactive Technology (IIT), International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB), and Math, Science, and Engineering (MSE). The Suncoast student body represents over 55 different countries and 40 home languages. However, given the geographical context of the school, the predominant languages spoken in the South Florida are Spanish and French Creole. Currently, 66% of the 11th and 12th grade student population is enrolled in the IB Diploma Programme. Approximately, 18 students in grades 11 and 12 are enrolled in the IB Career-Related Programme. The IB learner profile is regarded as the hallmark for the implicit curriculum of Suncoast Community High School. 

    Ninth and tenth grade students are enrolled in IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) core courses designed to provide foundational knowledge and skills for all students in preparation for accelerated curricula and the Diploma Programme. As part of the IB Continuum, Suncoast ninth and tenth grade teachers engage in articulation meetings with middle school Spanish language teachers to align the curriculum of the MYP and DP programs. 

    We recognize that enrolled students speak mother tongue languages other than English; however, the Suncoast IB Diploma curriculum requires completion in English A: Literature HL for all diploma candidates and we offer Language Acquisition in Spanish B and French B. Candidates that demonstrate high fluency in Language Acquisition receive Advanced Placement (AP) courses in Spanish Language or French Language, and Spanish Literature during their matriculation. These students are poised to take Spanish B HL, French B HL, or Spanish A: Language and Literature SL/HL for the Bilingual Diploma. We are avidly striving to prepare an accelerated cohort for Bilingual Diploma opportunity in French. 

    Purpose of the School Language Policy 
    According to IB Standards and Practices (2014), IB schools must implement a school language policy that communicates the expectations of the IB Programme. Therein, schools communicate the philosophy, purpose and goals for language teaching and learning to school stakeholders and to outline common efforts toward language acquisition. The Suncoast language policy also invites changes in the current language learning programs, as deemed necessary for student success. In keeping with IB expectations, the school community should understand that this language policy is designed to: (Guidelines for Developing a School Language Policy, 2008 )

    1. Communicate the role of all teachers as language teachers.
    2. Establish school curricular practices that promote student proficiency in at least one language in addition to their mother tongue.
    3. Support the development and maintenance of the mother tongue language.
    4. Promote inclusion and equity of access to the IB Program to all students.
    5. Foster appreciation of students’ native languages.
    6. Encourage professional development for language acquisition faculty, administrators and staff required to implement the tenets of the school language policy.
    7. Provide opportunities for increased parental involvement in language development.

    Language Policy Development
    The English Language department, World Language department, and school administration served as a steering committee to design the IB language development process and communicated their goals to teachers, parents, and community stakeholders. The English Language Department developed a seamless Group 1 English A: Literature curriculum for ninth and tenth grades inviting curricular ideas from Cambridge Education during the early years, College Board English Literature and finalizing with IB English HL during twelfth grade. Students are provided opportunities to analyze poetry and prose from authors around the world, discuss ideas in a global context and fortify their writing skills through several genres. Through vertical and horizontal collaboration, teachers identify students’ abilities to participate in theme development, literary device usages, and critical thinking. In addition, a school-wide monitoring system of academic performance is utilized to identify and offer support to struggling students in the school. 

    The language policy is communicated to the school community through the school website, School Advisory Council meetings, open house events, IB teacher articulation meetings, and the faculty handbook. The language policy undergoes review every two years following input from department head/school administration meetings. 

    School Language Philosophy
    School Administration, English Language and World Language Departments and the Diploma Coordinator are responsible for communicating and implementing the Suncoast language policy. Suncoast teachers should use the language policy to:

    1. Design a curriculum that supports the development of interpersonal communicative skills and literacy in all students.
    2. Understand the teacher’s role in implementing appropriate teaching practices that facilitate learner participation and engagement.
    3. Demonstrate effective teaching practices that utilize constructivist approaches in activating prior knowledge and constructing personal meaning during instruction.
    4. Foster meaningful interactions within the school community and to provide a richness of school culture with intercultural awareness.
    5. Build and reinforce students’ sense of identity.

    Language Practices
    Group 1: Literature
    English is the school language of instruction. In addition, structured studies in English A: Literature are enriched with mandatory studies in Advanced Placement (AP) English Language and AP English Literature. All Suncoast diploma candidates take the Group 1 English A: Literature Higher Level exam in grade 12.

    English Language Proficiency

    1. English will be acquired with proficiency through Group 1 classroom instruction analyzing a variety of texts, such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and prose.
    2. Students utilize the internet and web tools to facilitate research for all internal and external assessments and follow the MLA referencing protocols for citations.
    3. English teachers are expected to identify students with a semester grade of “F” and notify the IB Diploma Coordinator immediately.
         a. Teachers need to identify prerequisite skill deficiencies of students to be addressed in English           tutorial sessions.
         b. Teachers are expected to analyze school-based data (i.e. district-wide data software (EDW),             course-based exams, mock AP and IB exams) to provide remediation in skills and to support           students in preparation for 11th grade and 12th grade English studies.
    4. English teachers communicate clearly with parents regarding student accomplishments and needs as they progress through language development.

    Language Acquisition Learning 
    Language acquisition encourages language learning, learning through language and learning about language (Learning in a language other than mother tongue in IB Programmes, 2008, p. 4). Suncoast teachers develop discrete skills in students through concentrated instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening exercises. Students are assessed on their development of these skills along an MYP rubric. Teachers reinforce basic interpersonal communicative skills in using social interactions to practice discrete skills in the classroom. The goal is to have students establish literacy through the application of language knowledge to other areas of their lives (Language and learning in IB Programmes, 2011). As Diploma candidates, students should be able to transfer the skills learned in language acquisition to other subjects in the Diploma curriculum, whereby utilizing all Diploma teachers as language teachers. In addition, all teachers should inculcate in students an intercultural awareness, understanding, empathy, and open-mindedness to others. 

    Currently, Suncoast offers Spanish and French in the Diploma curriculum. Ideally, students should enter Suncoast with a minimum of one year of second language instruction. Incoming ninth-graders are given a Suncoast diagnostic language proficiency exam to place them into the appropriate levels of language instruction for Spanish or French by the World Language department. Students without prior world language instruction start at the first level in either Spanish or French. 

    Non-native speaking and native speaking candidates with little proficiency in Spanish or French, as assessed in Suncoast diagnostic language proficiency exam, will take four consecutive years of second language instruction. These students are strongly encouraged to take AP Spanish Language or AP French Language in grade 11 and IB Spanish B or French B SL in grade 12. Some students, on this pathway, feel prepared to take the higher level exam in grade 12.

    Native speaking students with high proficiency in Spanish or French, as assessed on the Suncoast diagnostic language proficiency exam, will take four consecutive years of language acquisition courses as well. These students are placed in AP Spanish Language or AP French Language in grade 10, AP Spanish Literature or IB French V in grade 11, and IB Spanish Language and Literature SL for the IB Bilingual Diploma, Spanish 6 HL or IB French 6 HL in grade 12. Suncoast is currently receiving highly accelerated students from middle school bilingual programs; therefore, we have recently incorporated a pathway that leads to students taking IB Spanish Language & Literature HL in grade 12 for the Bilingual Diploma. We plan to open a Bilingual Diploma pathway for French students when the need arises.

    CP candidates are required to complete a language development portfolio of experiences in a 2-year period devoting 50 hours or more to this effort. Candidates will develop oral, visual and written linguistic abilities in a target language they may need to communicate in their chosen career pathway.

    Special Needs in Language Acquisition 
    Special needs students receive Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that specify specific accommodations they should receive in their classes. Teachers of students with hearing impairments utilize lip reading, when possible. However, the intonations of speech are not clear using this method. Therefore, students that are hard of hearing use amplification devices during verbal discourse in the classroom. Deaf students are provided with assistive technologies to transcribe the verbal communication of the teacher into written format during the class period. This method reinforces the student’s ability to read and write in the language. Students with severe anxiety disorder are given interactive oral presentation opportunities in small group settings, with the instructor present, after receiving appropriate authorization from IB.

    The International Baccalaureate Language Program
    International education should:

    1. Provide international content while responding to local educational requirements and interests.
    2. Encourage diversity and flexibility in pedagogical approaches.
    3. Equip students with the skills to learn and to acquire knowledge, individually or collaboratively, and to apply these skills and knowledge across a broad range of areas.
    4. View each teacher as a language teacher. Practices for language learning should be a collaborative effort that examines planning and implementation of the language curriculum.
    5. Include cultural immersion experiences, field trips, and enrichment activities that encourage all students to participate.
    6. Include adequate resources for language teaching identified by teachers, department heads, or administration to support the syllabus, goals and objectives of the IB Diploma Programme.
    7. Provide differential paths of instruction based on student ability or need for acceleration while acquiring the language.
    8. Include professional development experiences for teachers to foster best language teaching practices – teachers and administrators should attend workshops and conferences to share their experiences with the school in organized presentations.
    9. Firmly state that each language teacher remain eager to learn more, update his/her sources and resources to improve instructional practice in their school program.
    10. Involve teachers in articulation meetings to collaborate in decision-making school improvement processes.

    Roles and Responsibilities
    Head of School and Administration
    1. Responsible for the professional development training of language teachers.
    2. Responsible for providing resources to teachers and students for language development.
    3. Communicate the values and expectations of the IB to teachers, parents, students, and community stakeholders.
    4. Responsible for providing resources for library and media services.
    5. Attract and retain highly qualified and experienced language teachers to support the program.
    6. Ensure that the IB learner profile is firmly entrenched in the school culture.
    7. Encourage IB teacher articulation meetings to foster Approaches to Teaching and Learning practices. 

    Head of World Language Department and IB Diploma Coordinator
    1. Informs all staff of IB procedures and assessment practices.
    2. Oversees the implementation of the language program.
    3. Ensures that appropriate textbooks, resources, and facilities are available.
    4. Ensures that parents are informed of their student’s progress in language acquisition and development.
    5. Organizes meetings for vertical and horizontal planning with language teachers.

    Current instructional practices related to language teaching and learning include:

    1. Vertical and horizontal teams in the English and World Language departments to ensure smooth transitions of student skill acquisition between instructional levels; to plan instructional strategies, identify instructional resources for language teaching, and to address the goals and objectives of Approaches to Teaching and Learning.
    2. Assigning meaningful and varied assignments to students that encourage proficiency in reading, writing, speaking, and listening language skills.
    3. Providing timely written and verbal descriptive feedback to students on assignments and assessments.
    4. Communicating with parents, students, and the IB Diploma Coordinator regularly regarding student academic progress.
    5. Focus on the assessment of student learning outcomes in language proficiency moreso than covering subject content in textbooks.

    The following are optional activities:

    1. Spanish and French teachers tutor their students after school and language honor students tutor the general population of language students during lunch.
    2. Student celebrations and festivals allow students to learn and participate in other cultural traditions through food, song, dance, and instrumentation.
    3. Weekend enrichment activities that include language teachers and students on cultural immersion field trips.

    Supporting Documents
    Guidelines for Developing a School Language Policy, 2008
    Language and Learning in IB Programmes, 2011
    Learning in a Language Other Than Mother Tongue in IB Programmes, 2008
    Programme Standards and Practices, 2014