PYP Language

What the PYP believes about learning language

The need to communicate is instinctive. The development of language is fundamental to that need to communicate; it supports and enhances our thinking and understanding. Language permeates the world in which we live; it is socially constructed and dependent on the number and nature of our social interactions and relationships.

The learning process simultaneously involves
  • learning language - as learners listen to and use language with others in their everyday lives
  • learning about language - as learners grow in their understanding of how language works and
  • learning through language - as learners use language as a tool to listen, think, discuss and reflect on information, ideas and issues.
An appreciation of these aspects of language learning may help teachers better understand and enhance students' learning. However, these three aspects are so inextricably linked they are best not thought of as discrete processes.

Language plays a vital role in the construction of meaning. It empowers the learner and provides an intellectual framework to support conceptual development and critical thinking. In the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP), it is recognized that the teaching of language should be in response to the previous experience, needs and interests of the student, rather than the consequence of a predetermined, prescriptive model for delivering language. Fragmenting learning into the acquisition of isolated skill sets can create difficulties for learners - for example, learners may be able to read, write and spell words correctly in isolation but may not be able to read, write or spell those same words in other contexts.

Learners' needs are best served when they have opportunities to engage in learning within meaningful contexts, rather than being presented with the learning of language as an incremental series of skills to be acquired.

At FLAG, the language profiles of students in are complex and diverse. The influence of mother-tongue development is significant for all learners. Development of mother-tongue language is crucial for cognitive development, and in maintaining cultural identity. Success in mother-tongue development is a strong predictor of long-term academic achievement, including acquisition of other languages.