Language Policy


Our mission is to provide the highest quality, balanced education to internationally-minded students in an inquiring and supportive environment. We seek to inspire students and to provide them with the academic and social skills that will enable them to fulfill their human potential as responsible global citizens.

Language Profile

YIS students come from diverse language backgrounds and we acknowledge that many of our students speak English as an additional language. There is a range of proficiency in English, both spoken and written across the school.



Students may enter the elementary school at YIS (up to and including grade 5) regardless of the level of the student’s proficiency in English.


Middle School: In the middle school (grades 6-8), students must have sufficient competency in English in order to benefit from our academic programs. For this reason, reading, speaking, and writing proficiency are required for admission. If the student’s first language is not English, they should be able to demonstrate that they are proficient in their mother tongue at their grade level.

High School: Since our high school academic program (for grades 9-12) is geared toward students who are planning to go to college or university, students should have academic English proficiency commensurate with the grade level for which they are applying.

The admissions procedures for students wishing to enter grades 6-12 involve the submission of the following documentation:

(i) a confidential report written by the existing English teacher of the student applying,

(ii) a confidential recommendation completed by the tutor or principal or someone on faculty highly knowledgeable of the student and

(iii) report cards.

Based on the above, if there is a need for an admissions test to be taken to ascertain the level of English proficiency of the applicant, this will be administered in school (either at YIS if based in Japan or at the existing school overseas). Should the student be receiving EAL support already, that student would normally be expected to take the admissions test. The admission test involves a reading comprehension and a writing test (essay). The EAL teacher will make an assessment based on the test taken. Interviews with the applicant may also be requested, either face-to-face or by Skype.

All applications for admissions are completed online. Some questions relate to mother-tongue and home language. Presently, the nationality of the student is based on his/her passport not on the predominant language spoken at home.

Language Philosophy

At YIS we share the following common beliefs about language.

    • The language policy is a working document developed by staff and administration from each of the school’s programmes ( PYP, MYP and DP ) and is consistent with the stipulated principles and practices of the IB.
    • The language policy validates the equal status of all languages and is supportive of mother tongue maintenance.
    • We value the importance of learning the host country’s culture and language. This is reflected through the teaching of Japanese from beginner to native level throughout the school and through partnership with the International Center for Japanese Culture (ICJC).
    • Language is central to all learning.
    • Language is used to construct meaning and deepen our understanding of the world.
    • Language is best learned in an authentic context.
    • Language is used 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 YIS underpins our identity as an international school.
    • 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.

Principles of Language Learning

    • Whilst English is the language of instruction, English is encouraged as the spoken language in the classroom, hallways and playgrounds, and school‐sponsored events.The language policy allows for students to inquire in their mother tongue to assist with understanding, inclusion and multilingualism.
    • Language should be used as a means of inclusion.
    • Language instruction must be included in all aspects of the curriculum.
    • Students learn best when they are actively involved in listening, speaking, reading and writing.
    • Students learn best when they receive continuous feedback and learn to self‐assess.
    • Teachers must model effective communication methods.
    • Where possible, teachers will differentiate tasks and expectations to suit students’ language levels.
    • Use of language must be assessed using a balance of authentic assessments, both written and oral.
    • Results from tests, such as the ISA, which are externally moderated, and internal assessment tools, may be used to determine the effectiveness of our language program, and provide teachers with a focus for future needs. Where the conventions of communication are unique in a given subject, the appropriate scaffolding must be in place to encourage students to succeed (i.e., lab report, literary essay, letter).
    • Some students need to be supported in their language learning. Appropriate support will be provided, based on availability.
    • Teachers will explicitly teach their subject’s vocabulary.
    • In some cases, taking an English as an Additional Language (EAL) course may be more appropriate than learning a new language.

Roles and Responsibilities

Students will

    • Be aware of the YIS language policy.
    • Take an active role in language learning.
    • Be encouraged to seek a wide range of language opportunities.
    • Make good use of YIS media resources and seek help when it is needed.
    • Do their best to develop a second language if appropriate.
    • Have an opportunity to learn the language of the host country, Japan.

Teachers will

    • Be aware of the YIS language policy.
    • Explicitly teach the language conventions of their subject.
    • Model effective communication.
    • Help students find appropriate language resources.
    • Differentiate between student’s language needs in planning, teaching and assessing student work.
    • Provide timely and effective feedback about language development to the students and their parents.
    • Refer students who are not developing the requisite language skills to the Learning Support/EAL department (second language learners).
    • Use a range of assessments and teaching strategies.

Parents will

    • Be aware of the YIS language policy.
    • Encourage, provide and support opportunities for their child to maintain their mother tongue.
    • Provide a range of appropriate texts for their children.
    • Monitor their child’s progress and communicate concerns initially through the classroom teacher.

Administration will

    • Provide adequate resources and staffing for the school’s language programs.
    • Ensure consistency across all sections of the school in the delivery of language instruction, assessment and reporting.
    • Instigate a regular review of the language policy.
    • Ensure that teachers are supported with professional development opportunities to keep abreast of current practices in the teaching of English as an additional language.

Second Language Learning


    • In grades 1-5, students will study Japanese except for those students who opt to join the Dutch mother tongue program. In the elementary school, pull out support for EAL students is scheduled back to back with Japanese. Therefore those students who require additional English language support in order to access the curriculum will join the EAL programme.
    • Students who have gained proficiency in English language will be exited from the pull-out programme and join the Japanese language programme.
    • Students in ELC and Kindergarten are introduced to the Japanese language through the Japanese cultural programme which is an integrated component of the curriculum.
    • Grade 5 transition into Language and Literature course or Language Acquisition


    • In grades 6 – 8, students will normally study one language other than English.
    • In grades 9-10, Language Acquisition courses in French, Spanish and Japanese are offered, in addition to Language Literature course Japanese. English Language Acquisition course runs parallel to English Language Literature course in grades 6-9, depending on the needs of our students.
    • Japanese is taught at different proficiency levels from Language Acquisition Phase 1 up to fluency levels Language Literature course.
    • Other languages are taught as non‐native languages (French and Spanish), starting in ‘ Grade 6 The proficiency level is linked to the grade level. Thus French and Spanish may require some background knowledge and experience. Spanish can be studied at Language Acquisition Phase 1 level starting in grades 9/10.
    • Phases are used to differentiate student proficiency levels within the classes. There can be the possibly of a range of phases within one class.


The student’s language profile is developed by providing the following:

    • Self-taught options in Group 1 on an as needs basis (also dependent on availability of a tutor). This helps to maintain the mother tongue development.
    • Presently, in Group 1, the school offers (i) English (Literature) at both Higher Level (HL) (ii) English (Language and Literature) at both HL and SL, (iii) Japanese (Language and Literature) at HL and SL and German (Language and Literature) at both HL and SL
    • Presently in Group 2, the school offers Language Acquisition in Japanese, French, Spanish and German all at both HL and SL and in addition, Japanese, French and Spanish maybe offered at the Ab Initio level.
    • Online courses devised by the IB and delivered by Pamoja Education both in Spanish Ab Initio (SL) and Mandarin Ab Initio (SL) are available.
    • Please also see Language Placement In the IB Diploma Program for further information.

Mother Tongue

In keeping with the IB philosophy, maintenance of mother tongue is encouraged, valued and supported at YIS. We recognize that continuing to develop the students’ mother tongue and literacy skills in their home language, supports the development of their English language skills. YIS will support its community in facilitating mother tongue programs after school by:

(i) providing classroom space

(ii) arranging for teachers (where possible) to deliver instruction and

(iii) helping to set up each of the programs.

Teachers invited to deliver the courses are compensated by the parents of those students enrolled. Currently, we are able to facilitate a Dutch mother tongue program that takes place within the school day in place of Japanese language for those students in grades K - 5. Grades 6-9 Dutch class occurs outside the scheduled school day. This is sponsored by the Ministry of Education in the Netherlands with some financial support. However, parents of those students enrolled in the Dutch program pay the bulk of the costs involved. Other mother tongue languages currently being offered after school across all sections are German, French, Korean and Mandarin and the school will continue to facilitate these offerings together with other languages based on demand.

YIS also has a partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute which offers Italian language classes in the evening and on weekends to the community and this would be extended to students if interest is shown.

In the PYP, parents are encouraged to participate in learning engagements that support and promote the maintenance of mother tongue through the Units of Inquiry, reading in class and sharing various information with the classes. The YIS library supports our community languages by ensuring our media collection is representative of our community and the languages spoken.

English as an Additional Language (EAL)


The EAL department will provide a program to support EAL students in becoming proficient in English for social interaction and academic success and to enable them to access the curriculum with confidence and understanding.

Philosophy - Principles

    • EAL is connected to general language and literacy policies and practices in PYP and MYP.
    • EAL is best learned in context.
    • All teachers are teachers of EAL and will use appropriate strategies when teaching specific subject content.
    • Collaborative partnerships between mainstream and EAL teachers are essential.
    • Students will be brought up to mainstream level as quickly as possible.
    • The needs for students requiring EAL support will be met where appropriate, including applying modifications in specific subjects as necessary.
    • Mother tongue language learning is important for second language acquisition so will be encouraged and, where possible, facilitated.
    • The EAL learning continuum will be explicit.
    • In ELC through grade 5, complete beginners in English will be accepted. In grades 6 – 10, students who can access the curriculum with available EAL support will be accepted.
    • In ELC – Kindergarten, EAL will primarily be taught in the mainstream classroom.
    • In grades 1 – 5, EAL will primarily be taught during Japanese lesson time with those needing intensive support being given extra time.

In grades 6 – 10:

    • English Language Acquisition is offered for those students who are still developing their English language abilities. English Language Acquisition will run parallel to English Language and Literature.
    • Assessment data will be used to inform teaching including student observations, reading and writing samples and WIDA Language Assessment (W-APT).
    • The program will have criteria for entrance and exit to be used in a consistent manner.
    • Reporting will be as a single subject.
    • The EAL department will provide a language resource center for students in grades 6 – 12.
    • Non-EAL students are not placed in English Acquisition classes.


    • EAL and mainstream teachers will provide a framework for learning to help all EAL students reach their potential.
    • EAL teaching will be contextualized wherever possible.
    • EAL teaching will be proactive, with a program related to the needs of each student
    • Language skills and content taught in EAL classes should be transferable across subject areas.
    • EAL classes will be planned with specific goals and assessments aligned to criteria and standards.
    • EAL teachers plan for individual student needs and in collaboration with homeroom teachers, in accordance to the PYP and MYP curriculum guidelines.
    • Assessment will be explicit and made known to students.
    • Modeling and suitable scaffolding will be used.
    • Students’ progress will be tracked and monitored and reported.
    • Assessment will be authentic and varied.

This policy was revised by a Language Review Committee ( Jacqueline Pender, Dennis Stanworth, Jen Lemery, Cari Barbour) in January 2014, with input and review from the YIS community. This document is available on the school website, staff handbooks and student parent handbooks. The next review to take place during the school year 2017-2018 or sooner if the language needs of the school change significantly.


Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma Program: Guidelines For Developing a School Language Policy.

International Baccalaureate, U.K. April 2008

Updated May 2018