Our program delivers both a head start in English amounting to a significant gain compared to students in the standard national bilingual program and a full Hungarian education. Our public/private partnership provides intensive bilingual education in a Hungarian bilingual state school setting. Added to the intensive English-only input five days a week there is a a variety of camps and other afternoon activities.
Another distinctive element of our program at all levels is our use of the one-person/one-language model of co-teaching, sometimes called the family model. The approach is straightforward: the Hungarian co-teacher speaks only Hungarian, and the Bilingual teacher – a native speaker of English, or on occasion a balanced bilingual – speaks only English. Moreover, our teachers do not evince any understanding of Hungarian, even passively. This allows us to maximize the language immersion and language learning opportunities of the students in our program.
Co-teaching is the rule of the day in all subject classes, where we adhere to our one-person, one-language rule, offering ample opportunity to the children for code-switching through frequent shifts in focus from teacher to teacher, all with an even distribution of time in each language.
Our constant emphasis on communicative teaching is grounded in the two overlapping methodologies of TEFL* and CLIL**. Pairwork, groupwork, TPR*** and an emphasis on developing critical and independent thinkers characterize all our work. To dovetail content and language in co-taught lessons, we rely on CLIL to integrate subject content with the language goals that are essential when teaching English through the given subject. Camps and an array of other extracurricular activities round out our program by providing for the use of English outside of the classroom environment, further emphasizing our core goal of teaching English not as a subject, but as a natural communication tool.
* TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language
**CLIL = Content and Language Integrated Learning
***TPR = Total Physical Response
The Cambridge System (“Cambridge English for Speakers of Other Languages Exams System”) is acknowledged and used worldwide for language competency assessment, and is regarded as the most comprehensively designed system of testing available. By 8th grade, we expect our students to be prepared to take the FCE for Schools test. In addition, we use in-house tests to track the development of language competency as per Cambridge system standards in the lower grades as well.
The House System, best known from the Harry Potter books, provides exciting English-language extracurricular activities for our upper school students every month. These activities allow students to earn points in various areas of skill and talent, including academic competitions, community service opportunities, and sports tournaments.
The basic idea is that we do not always get to pick the people we work with, so we have to find ways to work together as a team and take advantage of each individual’s strengths in order to be successful.
The four houses are:
- London Lions (red)
- Washington Eagles (green)
- Ottawa Otters (blue)
- Canberra Kookaburras (orange)
During Fall Camp, 5th graders are initiated into house teams in the House Sorting Ceremony, so they can enjoy participating in various house events every month.
House Spirit Days!
The first Wednesday of every month is designated as House Spirit Day. This means that students who proudly wear their house colors (*solid or dominant color top: shirt/T-shirt/sweater/dress) on those days, can get a house point for their enthusiastic display of house spirit.
A final key component in the Bilingual system is our Reading Program, which begins in late spring of first grade. The exact starting point is determined in conjunction with the Hungarian teacher in order to avoid any interference with the children’s acquisition of reading and writing skills in their native language. The program kicks off in earnest in the second grade and carries on throughout the students’ primary school years. In the lower school, reading is done in English classes and also in Tutorials.
The Bilingual Reading Program continues unabated in the upper school, where reading is done in English classes, Civilization lessons and also in Tutorials. We also place an emphasis on using not adaptations or simplified versions of works of literature but rather original English-language texts from a range of English-speaking countries. Of course, our staff choose texts at appropriate levels; also, our staff members teach these texts in ways that make them both enjoyable and accessible to their students.