Languages at NIS

Language is a medium of inquiry and central to each student's intellectual, social and emotional development. Language plays an essential role in all learning areas. Regardless of specialty, all teachers at Nagoya International School are language teachers. Language is seen as involving: learning language itself, learning about language, and learning through language, and it is the major connecting element across the curriculum.

NIS is committed to the development of an additional language for our students as we strongly believe that this aids in the development of intercultural awareness and open-mindedness.  In a school environment where different languages could be spoken, we believe that the use of a common language is essential to ensure inclusion for all and to enhance understanding of the many different cultures represented. At NIS the common language is English.

Principles of Language Learning

At NIS we share the following common beliefs about language:

  • Language is the major connecting element across the curriculum.
  • Language is used to construct meaning and deepen our understanding of the world.
  • There are many ways to convey meaning such as through writing, the arts, technology and verbally.
  • Students learn best when they are actively involved in listening, speaking, viewing, presenting, reading and writing.
  • Language is best learned in an authentic context using meaningful and engaging language tasks.
  • Language is used differently in different contexts and an understanding of how to match our language choices to a situation is essential to success in a society driven by communication.
  • Our approach to language at NIS underpins our identity as an international
  • All teachers are teachers of language and, as such, need to teach their students explicitly how to engage with the language conventions and vocabulary of their subject area.
  • Maintaining a student's mother tongue promotes successful academic and cognitive development.
  • Learning a second language is beneficial to cognitive development and will help students become more open-minded and better communicators.
  • The use of technology plays a role in language learning and communication.
  • Learning Japanese, the language of our host country, is encouraged as a means to successfully interact with the wider community and demonstrates respect.
  • Results from tests, such as the ISA, IBDP and SAT, which are externally assessed may be used to determine the effectiveness of our language program, and provide teachers/school with a focus for future needs.

While English is the primary language of instruction at NIS, our community embraces the many varied linguistic backgrounds of all our students. We know that students who develop the ability to speak multiple languages will have a lifelong advantage in gaining multiple perspectives and cultural knowledge, regardless of the order in which these languages are acquired. 

We believe that students of other language and cultural backgrounds are capable of achieving high levels of proficiency in the English language within our English language-based curriculum.  We also believe that strong first (home) language ability contributes significantly to second or other language proficiency.

To achieve this, we stress the importance of relying on everyone in our community to take responsibly for the development of strong language skills in school.  The faculty and staff continually develop a professional knowledge base in second language acquisition and implicitly and explicitly integrate language instruction with content instruction. Parents are asked to understand the importance of home language proficiency and expected to assume responsibility for maintaining home language development. Students too, of course, play a significant role in developing their English language proficiency.

The curriculum at NIS is delivered in English, and mechanisms are in place to support students who need additional support to improve English language proficiency and to better access the curriculum to achieve our mission. Japanese language instruction is an important part of our curriculum, and is required for all students from ELC through high school. Other languages are optional from grade 11 and 12 as part of the IBDP program.  



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