Dates: 23 & 24 March 2017
United World College of South East Asia, Dover Campus, Singapore
Registration Deadline: 23 February 2017 


Strand C | Language as a Pathway to Intercultural Learning

Ray Davis | Strand Leader

A Londoner by birth, Ray Davis worked in public education in the United Kingdom and was Head of a large school situated near Heathrow Airport. In 1992, his desire to further his educational and leadership experiences took him to South East Asia where he took up a Headship in a British international school in Singapore. His first foray into Malaysia was as the founding Director of Education of an international school in Johor Bahru. In 1999 Ray, joined The Taylor’s Education Group as Principal/ Chief Operating Officer of Garden International School, Kuala Lumpur. He held this post until August 2007, when he took up a new appointment as Regional Accreditation Officer with CIS and in January 2008 was appointed as an Associate Director. In this role Ray shares a global responsibility for supporting CIS member schools based in 109 countries and has a particular role in supporting CIS member schools in Australia, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

As Director of School Support & Evaluation, Ray currently supports and visits schools applying for CIS membership and participating in the CIS accreditation process.

Mother Tongue in International Schools: Not Just a Side-Order, a Main Dish!

Presenter: Eowyn Crisfield
Organisation: LanguageOne

Researchers and educators in many areas, both geographical and ideological, have been aware of the importance of mother tongue in education for decades. Research, mainly carried out in multilingual countries, has consistently shown that access to education in the “mother tongue”, especially in the primary years, has a significant impact on first language development, second language development and on academic achievement (see, for example, (Ballantyne & Rivera, 2014) (Carder, 2007) (Garcia & Kleifgen, 2010)). Despite this consistent, research-based evidence, international schools still struggle with finding and delivering appropriate programming to support the mother tongue languages of their students. Logistically, providing quality mother tongue education in schools with diverse and super-diverse populations is an immense task. There is often also a component of parent resistance – well-meaning parents think that more of the school language is more important that improving what they often consider to be a less important language for academic purposes.

This session looks at different ways in which mother tongue can be leveraged across the curriculum, to encourage sharing of different iterations of culturally influenced knowledge. Starting from classic mother tongue programming and moving across the spectrum to translanguaging in the classroom, we will look at how use of mother tongue can impact and enhance learning for all students, even (or especially) for monolingual students in international schools. The session objective is for each school leader or teacher to leave with at least one new perspective or idea on how mother tongue support could be improved in their own classrooms or schools. 

Power Dynamics and Hierarchies of Classroom Language

Presenter: Elizabeth Zeidan
School: English Modern School, Qatar

This workshop will examine the power dynamics of languages in the classroom, specifically using students’ first language to support their second language learning in English across the curriculum schools. Having worked in the Middle East for over 6 years at International Schools the facilitator has found her passion in researching and developing the way teachers think about second language teaching. This is an especially challenging topic at International Schools that employ first language English teachers to English Language Learners (ELLs). Often these teachers find themselves teaching ELLs for the first time and are guided by school leadership to 'fully immerse' students in the English language. The facilitator has recently completed Action Research/and a Masters Research Project at International Schools that use English across the curriculum and identified areas for school improvement.

Research suggests teachers have a lack of knowledge and potentially willingness to harness the learning power that first languages have in learning a second language. Schools that teach English across the curriculum may be holding back their students’ development and progression by insisting that teachers use a full immersion approach in their classrooms. The facilitators aim is to educate teachers and school leadership of how we can more effectively meet our ELLs learning needs. When learning a second language, language hierarchies become evident, both from the teacher and learners. As educators better accept and understand language hierarchies, we can use them to our students’ benefit. The workshop will be divided into two sections. The first will involve discussion of theory and beliefs in this area and presentation of research. Participants will then have the opportunity to participate in practical ways how first languages should effectively be used in the classroom, which can be shared with their leadership teams and staff.

Think Through Learning: An Integrated Framework for Planning Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment in Bilingual Schools

Presenter: Colt Turner, Director of Curriculum & Jessica Heyman, English K-12 Coordinator & MYP Coordinator, Instruction and Assessment
School: Daystar Academy

The challenges of developing, delivering, and assessing cohesive units of study are great in any school. However, the work of planning curriculum, instruction, and assessment is magnified in bilingual and culturally diverse education settings. Differences related to cultural norms, pedagogical experiences, and language backgrounds among teaching teams can cause angst in even the most established international schools. As with any aspect of education, experienced administrators know that clear frameworks, expectations, and resources should be made available to school staff as they work together to carry out the school’s mission. 

A definite framework for developing curriculum, planning instruction, and administering assessments must exist in a bilingual school to ensure that students learn not only the course content taught through each language but also the intercultural competencies that are critical to student success in today’s global world. In the Think Through Learning planning framework, teachers are provided a clear outline for the development of standards-based, inquiry-driven units of study. In each research-based phase of the planning process, teachers are provided a clear method for “thinking through” the “what, why, and how” of student learning. In addition to ensuring the successful integration of languages and cultures in the curriculum, the planning framework also provides teachers with skills to differentiate instruction and communicate students’ next steps for academic success.

Transforming the Language Barrier into a Pathway for Intercultural Learning Beyond the Classroom

Presenter: Kimberly Meredith & Heather Gross
School: Pearson College of the Pacific (UWC), Canada

The multilingual nature of international schools provides both unique challenges and rich opportunities for intercultural learning. Tools for using language as a pathway, rather than a barrier, to intercultural learning are necessary in order to create linguistically inclusive environments for our diverse learners.  How do we attract rather than alienate our multilingual learners and their families?  How do we ensure that languages unite rather than divide our multilingual communities? How do use transformative practices and pedagogies beyond the classroom to build bridges rather than barriers?

Drawing on Dr. Kimberly Meredith’s research (2014) on the potential for transformative multiliteracies pedagogy (Cummins 2011) to build empowerment and empathy, increase identity investment (Norton 2000), and enhance discursive practices in a multilingual learning community, this session uses linguistic practices and pedagogies at Pearson College of the Pacific—a United World College with 160 students from 80 different countries who speak over 100 different languages—as a case study for transforming language barriers into pathways for intercultural learning. Through transformative multiliteracies pedagogies, learners gain a critical framework to understand linguistic power dynamics, situated practice using diverse ways of communicating, and access to the dominant language while celebrating linguistic diversity.

Specifically, this session reports on strategies that Pearson College has implemented as we strive to align our approach to linguistic diversity with our United World College mission to use education as a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. Our learning objective is to share four key strategies that transform the linguistic barrier into a linguistic pathway for intercultural learning from admissions to graduation: A model for using third party partners in admissions communication; An example of pre-arrival language program; Whole school exercises for raising language awareness; Multiple methods to promote multilingualism, home languages and intercultural understanding. These strategies go beyond the classroom to make the entire education experience one that enhances the intercultural competency of our learning community. This workshop will include firsthand experience, individual reflection, case study presentation and a summary handout of the presented strategies.

Languages and Hyperspheres in our Brains: Towards a New Paradigm for Intercultural Learning?
Speaker: Bruno della Chiesa
Institution: Visiting Lecturer on Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Educating for 2030
Speaker: Michael Stevenson
Institution: Senior Advisor, Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation (OECD)


Educational Universality Through a Humane Lens: We ≠ You + Me
Speaker: Haifa Hajjar Najjar
Institution: Senator in the Upper House of the Jordanian Parliament (Jordanian Senate), Superintendent of Ahliyyah School for Girls and Bishop's School for Boys Amman

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