International British
Online School

International British Online School

Providing an outstanding, traditional education online from the heart of London

Learning languages at iBOS, how?


Learning languages at iBOS, how?

iBOS, International British Online School, is an innovative, modern, and progressive Online School which delivers a full British Curriculum to Primary, Secondary, and Sixth Form students all around the world.

Physically based in the vibrant heart of London, at iBOS we offer outstanding education through virtual, interactive, and engaging lessons that reach our students, wherever they are in the UK and internationally, thanks to our qualified and skilled teachers.

The Modern Foreign Languages Department is led by Miss Freni, a linguist and experienced teacher who achieved a first honour BA degree in Modern Foreign Languages and literatures in 2014 at the University of Messina (Italy) and her PGCE in Languages at the University of Reading in 2018.  She speaks five languages fluently and likes to learn new ones in her free time. At the moment, she is pursuing Welsh and Swedish to add to her repertoire.

Her passion for languages and her deep, solid subject knowledge are embedded both in lessons and extra-curricular activities. In fact, for the second year in a row, she is successfully running the Languages Café enrichment club every Monday, after school, where students are the real teachers. They make new friends by teaching each other through conversations in their own language. This year, up to now, the participants have learnt how to have a short conversation in Russian, French, German, and Afrikaans.

Learning languages at iBOS

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I will learn”. This motto, attributed to the Confucian philosopher Xun Kuang, represents the ethos at iBOS exactly and holistic learning approach. The benefits of student-led lessons, in which the students are the real protagonists, are enormous.

This is not only sustained by researchers and educators, such as Edgar Dale in his Cone of Experience contained in Audio-visual methods in teaching (Audio-Visual Methods in Teaching, 3rd ed., Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York, 1969, p. 108), but also demonstrated by our students’ outcomes.

Dale’s Cone of Experience theorised that learners retain more information by what they “do” as opposed to what is “heard”, “read” or “observed”. Thus, the more involvement, the more learning will occur in the long run, as shown in the picture above1.

In terms of IGCSE performance, results published in August 2022 showed that 100% of our KS4 students who sat their IGCSE examination in French and Spanish scored between a 9-7 grade (80% of them achieved a 9), while our students in KS3 passed their End of Year exams staying on target and some even going further than expected. But how is all of this possible?

Following the statutory guidance of the national curriculum in England, languages lessons include a mix of different skills. Throughout Years 7, 8, and 9, our programme of study will allow students to: 

1) understand and respond to spoken and written language from a variety of authentic sources.

2) to speak with increasing confidence, fluency and spontaneity, finding ways of communicating their point of view, through discussion or asking questions.

3) to write at varying length, for different purposes and audiences, using a variety of grammatical structures2.

Students are assessed against listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills since the very beginning. Lessons are planned to promote and enhance these skills and tailored according to our students’ strengths throughout all Key Stages. Students in Year 7, 8, and 9 will study content that will establish the basis for accessing the IGCSE course in Years 10 and 11. In fact, KS3 classes cover topics that then will be consolidated and deepened in IGCSE, where students are stretched and challenged in order to develop life-transferable skills also, such as critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, leadership, and collaboration. Moreover, the choice to adopt Pearson Edexcel IGCSE as our language qualification is optimal for international students as it is a qualification fully recognised globally by universities and the course offers academic content and assessment designed specifically for international learners with real-life contexts and situations as well as and more diverse topics compared with a GCSE course.

‘I do, we do, you do’

What happens behind the scenes of our language lessons?

Regarding specific pedagogy, language lessons follow the above-mentioned Dale’s Cone of Experience modelled on the more contemporary scheme ‘I do, we do, you do’: first teacher demonstrates (I do), then each student does the task with teacher’s guidance (we do), finally students work independently (you do).  

Students acquire new vocabulary throughout reading and listening tasks aimed to develop reasoning and strategies such as looking for details, finding cognates (words that look or sound similar to others. For example, histoire – French word for history), matching up, filling the gaps, identifying patterns, finding errors, doing predictions to guess what vocabulary they may expect, looking at clues (pictures, title, tenses, etc.).

In order to support cognition and memorisation, vocabulary acquisition is helped by interactive elements, like videos and songs, and the use of online platforms, such as Memrise, Seneca Learning, and Quizlet which allow learners to practise the vocabulary through self-assessed activities and games.

However, it is in the ‘we do’ phase that the teacher can witness worders: the time allocated for independent work is the perfect moment for each and every student to thrive, to show their learning and progress, to be creative, and put into place all the strategies learnt to cope with the difficulties of the task. As shown in Dale’s Cone of Experience above, it is in this moment that learning becomes ‘concrete’ – that is to say learners perform writing and/or speaking tasks. Among them we have 1 to 1 (student-teacher) or group conversations with their peers, role plays or writing tasks all linked to real-life contexts. According to the Key Stage, they may include: writing an email to a friend, meeting new people, writing an article in your blog, booking hotel rooms, ordering food at a restaurant, experience shopping in a suk, a food market or a department store, contacting your council to suggest how to improve your local area or charities to tackle global issues, contacting local authorities to access services, such as banks, hospitals or police stations in case of unexpected situations.

Languages are for everyone

Despite the study of modern foreign languages being compulsory for KS3 students, we encourage each student to choose at least one foreign language for their IGCSE course. Several researchers have demonstrated that learning a language opens new worlds, lets us engage with a wide range of ideas, peoples, and cultures. It surely appears to improve functions like attention and mental alertness. It has been also shown that people who speak other languages often exhibit more empathy and a global mindset. Around 90% of studies looking at the effect learning a language has on achievement in other subjects of the school curriculum report a positive impact, across English language learning, literacy, maths and science3.

Languages are for everyone at iBOS, no matter their previous knowledge or their background. Even if studying a foreign language can be challenging (for most of our students studying another language means learning a third or fourth one as they often do not speak English as a first language), nobody is left behind. Each and every student is given the possibility to thrive and contribute to our lessons. We tailor our support to allow our students to achieve their very best as well as we stretch and challenge them to reach their full potential and push beyond their comfort zone. In terms of support, we offer weekly compulsory interventions for Key Stage 4 students which is aimed mainly at boosting their exam skills from the beginning of the school year so to provide students with progression and a more consistent routine in terms of meeting targets and revision. Ad hoc sessions are also delivered throughout the school year for any other student who may struggle or join the classes later in the school year. Such interventions are positively welcomed, and they have demonstrated to enhance students’ confidence, resulting in participating more spontaneously in lessons and pushing themselves to achieve higher marks.

A dynamic, diverse, and fun climate for learning

At iBOS we offer a dynamic, diverse, and fun climate for learning as each lesson is never the same. Our students are always encouraged to have a go and contribute to our lessons. They also have opportunities to deepen their cultural knowledge about French and Spanish speaking countries by participating in games, competitions, and special celebrations, such as the European Day of Languages in which many students throughout Key Stages 3, 4, and 5 got involved and were able to achieve more than 50 challenges last September 2022. In addition to these, each lesson is embedded with cultural links, games, and competitions. More further initiatives are to come also. Among them, in the next weeks a new language project will start and will go on for the rest of the year: the launch of the Languages blog where students will be encouraged to post and share curiosities about their own languages and countries, a virtual place where every language at iBOS is celebrated. Stay tuned!



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