Lower School Curriculum


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Language is involved in all learning that goes on in our school. Learners listen, talk, read and write their way to negotiating new meanings and understanding new concepts. Language provides a vehicle for inquiry. In an inquiry-based classroom, teachers and students enjoy using language. The love and enjoyment of language through the integration of literature into student inquiry is an indicator of good practice in a PYP classroom. The programme of inquiry provides an authentic context for learners to develop and use language. Wherever possible, language is taught through the relevant, authentic context of the units of inquiry. Teachers provide language learning opportunities that support learners’ inquiries and the sharing of their learning. Regardless of whether language is being taught within or outside the programme of inquiry, 
it is believed that purposeful inquiry is the way in which learners learn best. The starting point is always be learners’ prior experience and current understanding.
We plan learning experiences that enable learners to develop language within meaningful and enjoyable contexts so that learners are able to make connections, apply their learning, and transfer their conceptual understanding to new situations. This progressive conceptual development, together with an enjoyment of the process, provides the foundation for lifelong learning.

Acknowledging that learning language is a developmental process, the ISB scope and sequence documents for English, Serbian, Spanish and French present sets of developmental continuums that are designed as diagnostic tools for planning language learning experiences for students, and for monitoring students’ development throughout the primary years. Each document is intended to inform and support all teachers, as all teachers are teachers of language.

The language Strands at ISB align with the IBPYP strands of Oral, Visual and Written language. Below is a table showing the reciprocal way that language can be received and expressed.

Receptive and expressive aspects of language strands
ISB has framed its language scope and sequence document around the conceptual understandings outlined in the PYP document, but developed learning outcomes differently to incorporate the different ways that language is learned depending on children’s language profiles.
  •  Learners within the same age group will have different proficiency levels and needs—therefore teachers consider a range of phases when planning language learning experiences for a class of learners.
  •  Each learner is a unique individual with different experiences and perceptions, so no two learners progress at the same rate, or along the same developmental pathways.
  •  A learner may exhibit a range of learning outcomes from various phases at any one time.
  •  Learners seldom progress in a neat and predictable manner; instead they may remain in one phase for some length of time and move rapidly through other phases.
  Oral language—listening and speaking Visual language—viewing and presenting Written language—reading Written language—writing
1 Learners show an understanding of the value of speaking and listening to communicate. They recognize that sounds are associated with objects, or with symbolic representations of them. They are using language to name their environment, to get to know each other, to initiate and explore relationships, to question and inquire. Learners show an understanding that the world around them is full of visual language that conveys meaning. They are able to interpret and respond to visual texts. Although much of their own visual language is spontaneous, they are extending and using visual language in more purposeful ways. Learners show an understanding that print represents the real or the imagined world. They know that reading gives them knowledge and pleasure; that it can be a social activity or an individual activity. They have a concept of a “book”, and an awareness of some of its structural elements. They use visual cues to recall sounds and the words they are “reading” to construct meaning. Learners show an understanding that writing is a form of expression to be enjoyed. They know that how you write and what you write conveys meaning; that writing is a purposeful act, with both individual and collaborative aspects.
2 Learners show an understanding that sounds are associated with objects, events and ideas, or with symbolic representations of them. They are aware that an object or symbol may have different sounds or words associated with it in different languages. They are beginning to be cognizant about the high degree of variability of language and its uses. Learners identify, interpret and respond to a range of visual text prompts and show an understanding that different types of visual texts serve different purposes. They use this knowledge to create their own visual texts for particular purposes. Learners show an understanding that language can be represented visually through codes and symbols. They are extending their data bank of printed codes and symbols and are able to recognize them in new contexts. They understand that reading is a vehicle for learning, and that the combination of codes conveys meaning. Learners show an understanding that writing is a means of recording, remembering and communicating. They know that writing involves the use of codes and symbols to convey meaning to others; that writing and reading uses the same codes and symbols. They know that writing can describe the factual or the imagined world.
3 Learners show an understanding of the wide range of purposes of spoken language: that it instructs, informs, entertains, reassures; that each listener’s perception of what they hear is unique. They are compiling rules about the use of different aspects of language. Learners show an understanding that visual text may represent reality or fantasy. They recognize that visual text resources can provide factual information and increase understanding. They use visual text in a reflective way to enrich their storytelling or presentations, and to organize and represent information. Learners show an understanding that text is used to convey meaning in different ways and for different purposes—they are developing an awareness of context. They use strategies, based on what they know, to read for understanding. They recognize that the structure and organization of text conveys meaning. Learners show an understanding that writing can be structured in different ways to express different purposes. They use imagery in their stories to enhance the meaning and to make it more enjoyable to write and read. They understand that writing can produce a variety of responses from readers. They can tell a story and create characters in their writing.
4 Learners show an understanding of the conventions associated with speaking and listening and the value of adhering to those conventions. They are aware that language is a vehicle for becoming knowledgeable; for negotiating understanding; and for negotiating the social dimension. Learners show an open- mindedness about the use of a range of visual text resources to access information. They think critically, and are articulate about the use of visual text to influence the viewer. They are able to use visual imagery to present factual information, or to tell a story. Learners show an understanding of the relationship between reading, thinking and reflection. They know that reading is extending their world, both real and imagined, and that there is a reciprocal relationship between the two. Most importantly, they have established reading routines and relish the process of reading. Learners show an understanding of the role of the author and are able to take on the responsibilities of authorship. They demonstrate an understanding of story structure and are able to make critical judgments about their writing, and the writing of others. They are able to rewrite to improve the quality of their writing.
5 Learners are able to understand the difference between literal and figurative language; how to use language differently for different purposes. They are aware that they are building on their previous experiences and using language to construct new meaning. Through inquiry, learners engage with an increasing range of visual text resources. As well as exploring the viewing and presenting strategies that are a part of the planned learning environment, they select and use strategies that suit their learning styles. They are able to make connections between visual imagery and social commentary. They show more discernment in selecting information they consider reliable. They are able to use visual imagery to support a position. Learners show an understanding of the strategies authors use to engage them. They have their favourite authors and can articulate reasons for their choices. Reading provides a sense of accomplishment, not only in the process, but in the access it provides them to further knowledge about, and understanding of, the world. Learners show an understanding of the conventions pertaining to writing, in its different forms, that are widely accepted. In addition, they demonstrate a high level of integration of the strands of language in order to create meaning in a manner that suits their learning styles. They can analyse the writing of others and identify common or recurring themes or issues. They accept feedback from others.