Language Policy

The Dwight School Seoul Mission states that:

Dwight School Seoul is committed to finding and igniting the ‘spark of genius’ in every child. Kindling their interests, we develop inquisitive, informed, self-aware and ethical citizens who will build a better world.

The IB considers it essential for international education that students learn in more than one language.

At Dwight School Seoul (DSS) we believe that the study of languages provides a powerful means by which one gains understanding of other cultures and that being able to speak a language indicates deep respect for that culture.

In addition, we believe strongly in preserving and developing a student’s language skills for three reasons:

  • Encourage a celebration of diversity, and develops cross-cultural awareness and understanding.
  • Enable the development of higher order cognitive thinking skills.
  • Empower students who are members of small cultural subgroups within the school to better maintain and transmit cultural identity within our multicultural society.

The development of language incorporates the three concepts of language learning, learning through language and learning about language. At DSS, language learning aims to stimulate communication and conversation enabling students to interact with teachers and peers. Learning through language emphasizes strategies to encourage students to develop new meanings and construct knowledge of the world. Learning about language empowers students to cultivate an understanding of the relationship between language and meaning and how language works.

Further information regarding these concepts can be found in the document “Language and learning in the IB programmes” (September 2011).

Language Diversity at Dwight School Seoul

English is the language of instruction at DSS. It is the common language in which all communication and access to the curriculum occurs. As such the support and development of English within the school is paramount. English language learning is not something that happens at a set time with a set teacher, instead it happens across the disciplines and every teacher is required to model the use of language emphasizing clear and concise communication. All DSS teachers have a responsibility to address the language needs of their students in the language of instruction.

As an international school, DSS acknowledges and appreciates that many of its students will be learning in a language other than their mother tongue. These students will need to acquire English not only to access the mainstream curriculum but also to participate in the cultural and social life of the school. Therefore DSS provides opportunity for students who are not considered proficient in the language of instruction with additional support through its Quest department (see Quest Handbook).

NB: This policy should be read in conjunction with the school Assessment and Recording Policy, the Admissions Policy and the Quest Handbook.

Learning and the Language of Instruction

Primary Years Programme (3s – Grade5)

Language is involved in all learning that happens in a PYP classroom and is essential for inquiry and the construction of meaning. As the language of instruction, English is taught daily in blocks. However, English language teaching is not limited to that block of time. Features of the English language curriculum include the four PYP Language strands of reading, writing, listening and speaking, viewing and presenting. Small groupings for targeting skill deficits are deployed within the class through differentiated instruction.

The DSS Quest Department (internal learning resource center) is available to work with students who need additional support with English.

Middle Years Programme (Grades 6 – 10)

Language A

MYP Language A builds on experiences in language learning that students have gained during their time in the PYP. Language A is academically rigorous and requires students to develop an appreciation of language and literature. It provides students with the linguistic, analytical and communicative skills that can also be used across the disciplines. The six fundamental skill areas developed are listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and presenting.

Apart from students who require support from the Quest Department, all DSS students are encouraged to study English Language A. In addition, DSS offers many students the opportunity to study their mother tongue as a second Language A (see mother-tongue support). At present Korean A is offered to MYP students.

The study of a second Language A in grades 6-10 is not compulsory but is supported and encouraged whenever a student exhibits the background to make such study appropriate.

Diploma Programme (Grades 11 & 12) Language A

This level is for a fluent language user, studying in his or her most competent language. This is normally the language of the environment to which the student has been exposed from an early age or for an extended period. Students study literary texts and demonstrate analytical skills in writing and speaking.

Most students in the Diploma Program study English A at either higher or standard level. However, DSS also offers Language A classes in Korean, Mandarin, and German.

Dwight also offers study in many other Languages A at standard level through the IB school-supported self-taught option. In this case, students choose a variety of literary texts under the guidance of Dwight’s Language Department Head.

IBDP Language A as an Additional Language

DSS recognizes that many international students are “3rd Culture” and as such may be proficient in more than one language at Language A. Students who fit this profile may opt to study two Language A courses from within those offered or from those that can be supported by SSST. These students would not be required to take an additional Language 2 and would be eligible for a Bilingual Diploma.

English as an Additional Language

DSS supports students who are non-native speakers of English with the goal that they become fully integrated in the life of the school. Students identified during the application process as additional language learners in English are carefully evaluated through testing at the admissions stage (see Admissions Policy, Quest Handbook and Assessment and Reporting Policy). The student’s level of proficiency is evaluated and a decision is made at the time of admission as to whether or not additional English language support sessions are required, and a language profile is duly established.

Additional English language support sessions are tailored to student needs and typically are scheduled during the periods when other students are learning an additional language but can also at other times as the need arises. Students receiving English language support are issued with reports and narrative comments using the standard reporting format, four times per year as described in the Assessment and Reporting Policy.

Furthermore, there is after school English support available, at an additional cost, to those students who are interested. Details about this optional program are available from the Quest department.

On the basis of admissions testing additional English language support is established. It can take the following forms in PYP, MYP and DP.

Primary Years Programme

Dwight School Seoul recognizes that in a trandisciplinary programme, language is essential to inquiry-based learning and the construction of knowledge. Relevant, authentic and meaningful contexts, social interaction, and connection to prior knowledge are all essential components to effective language learning in the PYP; therefore, students who are non-native speakers of English, and who have been identified as being in need of additional English language support, are immersed in regular classroom activities for the maximum amount of time possible. In some cases, students attend Quest lessons for additional English language support as an alternative to learning an additional language.

Middle Years Programme

Depending on the level of English, students requiring English language support will be placed into one of the following:
i. Four periods of English B instruction (replacing English A)
ii. Four periods of English B (replacing English A) and four periods of Quest instruction (replacing learning of an additional language, Language B)

The English language support teacher works with other subject teachers to assist students with enhancing their subject-specific vocabulary. After the first year of additional English language support, students receive further testing to determine the amount of support necessary. Depending on these results, students may return to all ‘mainstream’ classes or perhaps continue into a second year of English language support, but with fewer sessions scheduled.

Diploma Programme

English as an Additional Language

In the Diploma Programme, English language support is not provided. Students must already have an academic level of English when enrolling in the Diploma.

Classes in DP English B (as a foreign language) may be offered if deemed appropriate. In these cases, the student will take a DP Language A other than English in the final examinations. This option is suitable for students who are non-native English speakers who have recently arrived from a non-English speaking country. On entry to the Diploma Programme, students with this profile will be evaluated to establish whether a full Diploma Programme or a Diploma Courses Programme is more suitable.

Mother Tongue

Mother tongue is a child’s first or native language. Many parents at Dwight School Seoul express a desire for their child to be immersed in English from the earliest days at school and take responsibility for their child’s continuing practice of his or her mother-tongue language development at home. However, as studies show, it is imperative that children continue to preserve and deepen their understanding of their mother tongue, for the development of higher order cognitive skills and for the transmission of cultural identity. Therefore, Dwight School Seoul aims to support parents in the maintenance and development of both mother-tongue language and literacy skills.

This includes the school actively supporting mother-tongue language development through:

  • providing mother-tongue classes within the curriculum (including the Extra Curricular Program)
  • providing parents with information regarding the different mother-tongue programs available
  • recognizing and celebrating the various mother-tongue languages within the school
  • enabling parents access to use school facilities or rooms for tutoring
  • extending mother-tongue resources in the library

Learning an Additional Language

“Learning in more than one language is considered essential to an international education and for enriching intercultural understanding” (Towards a continuum of international education, 2008, p25).

DSS values the role of language and views learning an additional language as imperative to the holistic development of students. Learning an additional language develop multi-literacy skills and attitudes enabling students to communicate successfully in a global environment. Language learning at DSS is a developmental process whereby students build on prior knowledge and skills in order to progress to the next phase of language development.

The sustained study of an Additional Language provides the opportunity for students to:

  • develop competence in a language other than their mother-tongue
  • appreciate and respect diverse linguistic and cultural heritages
  • develop a skills base on which future languages can be learned

Differentiation occurs within each language class. Students may continue with their chosen PYP language or decide to study another language when moving into MYP. Phase 1 ab initio
Phase 2 ab initio
Language B SL
Phase 3 Language B SL
Phase 4 Language B SL/HL
Phase 5 Language B SL/HL
Language A: literature SL
Language A:language and literature SL
Literature and performance SL
Phase 6 Language A Language A: literature SL/HL
Language A:language and literature SL/HL
Literature and performance SL

Pathways from the PYP through the MYP language B courses to DP groups 1 and 2 courses (MYP: Language B guide, March 2012, p4)

Primary Years Programme

All students, except those working with the Quest Department for additional English language support (EAL), in PYP from Early Childhood Division (ECD) 3s through Grade 5 are required to study at least one language in addition to English. Currently, the school offers the host country language Korean for students in ECD 3s up to and including Grade 5 and both Mandarin and German to students in Grades 3 up to and including Grade 5.

Middle Years Programme

Language B

Language B is an additional language that is not the student’s mother-tongue language.

At DSS, MYP students are encouraged to study a language B that builds on their experiences gained in language learning through previous study. Through a sustained language program, the goal is for all students to become proficient in a second language by the end of Grade 10. In order to provide reasonable differentiation within the classroom setting, DSS recognizes that it must be flexible in grouping students that closely match the level of proficiency of the students.

Korean, Mandarin and German are the three Languages B currently offered at DSS. In summary, all MYP students are expected to study a minimum of:

  • Language A English and one Language B (Korean, Mandarin or German), or
  • Two Languages A (English and Korean)

It is also acknowledged that learning another language greatly contributes to the holistic development of students and is believed to raise achievement in other subject areas.

Diploma Program (DP) – Grades 11-12

All students in grades 11-12 are expected to complete second language (Language B) study. DSS offers IB DP Languages B in Korean, Mandarin and German. Students in grades 11-12 taking the full Diploma Programme, must continue the study of a second language in one of the following ways:

DP Language B higher level or standard level (for language learners who have had three or more years of experience with the language): Students learn to communicate effectively in a number of situations, from everyday exchanges to literary texts. In this way they develop mastery of language skills.

DP Language ab initio standard level (for a beginner who has little or no experience of the language): Students gain a basic level of communication based on everyday exchanges and prescribed situations.

Dwight offers German ab initio, Mandarin ab initio and Spanish ab initio by special arrangement. ab initio Language. Classes will be reviewed yearly dependent upon need.

Professional Development

DSS aims to provide support/workshops for classroom teachers led by Language B/Quest Specialists and supported by each programme Coordinator. Group 1 and 2 DP teachers receive IB recognized training in their language subject. In the MYP, at least one teacher from Language A and Language B will receive IB recognized training. As part of the PYP category 1 training, Language learning is addressed.


Law, Barbara, and Mary Eckes. The More-than-just-surviving Handbook: ESL for Every Classroom Teacher. 3rd ed. Winnipeg: Portage & Main, 2000. Print.

Word Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary and Spelling Instruction by Rear, Invernizzi, Templeton and Johnston

Jolly Phonics programme

PM Benchmark Reading Assessment

Daily 5 and CAFE language programme


Students use Destiny to access all library resources.

A section of our Lower School Library is devoted to literature in foreign languages. Students are encouraged to sign out books and enjoy them with their parents at home.

Upper School Library contains literature in Korean and other languages to support the languages currently taught within the MYP and DP.

Dwight Upper School operates a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Policy. As such Students are able to access relevant technologies in their chosen language.

Language Policy Committee

The Dwight School Seoul Language Policy was drafted jointly by the Early Childhood Division Co-ordinator, Primary Years Programme Co-ordinator, Middle Years Programme Co-ordinator, Diploma Programme Co-ordinator, and DSS Language teachers.

Language Policy Committee

The Early Childhood Division Coordinator, Primary Years Programme Coordinator, Middle Years Programme Coordinator, Diploma Programme Coordinator, and DSS Language teachers drafted the Dwight School Seoul Language Policy jointly.

The most recent document of the policy is stored on the school’s sever.


Full teaching faculty and administration in October 2012 reviewed the Dwight School Seoul Language Policy.

The Policy was submitted to Senior Leadership Team for comment and implementation January 2013

Based on the PYP & MYP Consultation visits, the Policy has been further reviewed in September 2013.

The evaluation of the effectiveness of Dwight School Seoul’s Language Policy is scheduled for full review by faculty in scheduled for May 2015


IB publications:
Guidelines for developing a school language policy (April 2008)
Language and Learning in the IB programmes (September 2011)
Learning in a language other than mother tongue in IB programmes (April 2008)
MYP: From principles into Practice (August 2008)
Second Language Acquisition and Mother-tongue Development (January 2004)
Towards a continuum of international education (September 2008)