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Nurturing Multilingual Minds

Nurturing Multilingual Minds

By Jon Molayem, Elementary School Co-Principal (Pastoral)

From the foundational years of Kindergarten to the Upper Elementary levels, Elementary School at Silicon Valley International School (INTL) provides an immersive bilingual and inquiry-based education that shapes students into confident, multifaceted thinkers. In alignment with the Primary Years Programme (PYP) framework, students are not merely taught in multiple languages, but are also guided in the art of learning itself. Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills, including research, communication, and presentation skills, are intentionally incorporated into our instruction. Students explore subjects across languages, with real-life examples seamlessly woven into their learning experiences.

Young Chinese Program students reading together in the library.

Beginning in Kindergarten, students experience a transdisciplinary approach as they build essential pre-reading and pre-writing skills such as phonological awareness, letter recognition, and fine motor skills. These skills are incorporated into interactive play and hands-on experiences, nurturing a love for learning.

As students transition into 1st and 2nd Grade, our focus is on the acquisition of language skills. Phonics, decoding, and fluency are emphasized in our reading instruction, along with focused instruction in grammar and punctuation to develop writing skills. As students move into Upper Elementary, they are then prepared to make the shift from "learning to read" to the more advanced stage of "reading to learn." The Upper Elementary years also mark a distinctive evolution of our immersion model. English classes now include students from each of the three language programs, providing a new opportunity for collaboration, vocabulary development, and exposure to diverse perspectives.

Two Elementary school students searching for books on the shelves in the library.

As one example of the potential of our model, in 4th Grade this year, students learned about the solar system as a part of a unit on migration. After researching historical migrations, they inquired about the future of migration which led to each student writing a persuasive essay and participating in a debate about which planet they would choose to move to in the future. Their work came to life through computer science and art, as students created representations of the planets and then used Makey-Makeys, a computer input kit, so that when a viewer touched any of the planets, it was programmed to have the student’s voice talk about the characteristics of that planet they learned from their research.

French program student reading in class.

The success stories of our students stand as a testament to the richness and effectiveness of our model. Our students, equipped with a profound understanding of languages, a passion for learning, and the ability to navigate a multicultural, interconnected world, exemplify the distinctive advantages of our approach.

Fostering bilingual leaders with boundless futures.
Learn more about our school.

An International Baccalaureate education from preschool to high school.