What makes learning English at an international school different

By May May   October 24, 2021 | 07:00 pm PT
An international environment with teachers, students from different countries and immersive methods force students to use English for daily communication and acquire knowledge in all aspects of life.

Purpose of learning English

In many Vietnamese public schools and English centers, students often learn English as a foreign language to use at the workplace with very limited language purpose, or to take language certification exams like TOEIC, IELTS, or TOEFL.

At The International School @ ParkCity Hanoi (ISPH), students learn English to use as their primary language in communicating with teachers and friends in class and as a tool for learning and acquiring knowledge in subjects like math, sciences, music, art, and PE, as well as conduct research and self-study.

ISPH primary students in a maths lesson. Photo courtesy of ISPH

ISPH primary students attend a math lesson. Photo courtesy of ISPH

Rik Millington, principal of ISPH, said a student for whom English is not a first language will usually take about a year to develop communicative English and around three years to master his/her academic English; to write reports and essays, make presentations, study specialized subject textbooks. Therefore, if the student only focuses on communication and learning grammar, their academic English ability would not be significantly improved as it does not have a ‘real world’ application.

More applicable

English at international schools is taught in all subjects, and is the common language used in all school activities and events. Therefore, students have an environment to practice and use English regularly, helping them to naturally improve their English ability and make much more rapid progress.

ISPH students in a self-study lesson at the school library.  Photo courtesy of ISPH

ISPH students engage in a self-study lesson inside the school library. Photo courtesy of ISPH

James Ellis, an English teacher at ISPH shared that English at school is taught in different ways suitable to each group of students. For students in pre- and primary school, teachers will focus on vocabulary, pronunciation, phonics, sentence structure, grammar, and critical thinking in English.

For secondary school students, especially those studying the IGCSE programme, English is taught more intensively and comprehensively, focusing on word usage, content creation, learning about different types of literary genres, writing styles, the meaning the author wants to convey in each literary work, as well as analyzing the work.

According to Ellis, English taught at international schools is more applicable because it is linked to other subjects to create opportunities for students to practice and apply new knowledge in a real-life manner.

For example, when students study a 'Superheroes' topic, they not only learn about the work but are also asked to create their own hero character in the form of writing or artwork. Through this activity, vocabulary related to this topic in other subjects like creative arts or physics are also introduced to students, creating opportunities for them to use those new words more often in school.

Learning environment

Studying in an international environment with teachers and students from many different countries around the world forces students to use English for daily communication and as a tool to acquire knowledge in all subjects.

Nhat Minh, a year 10 student at ISPH said English here is taught in a natural manner; students are learning English not only through lessons but through playing, exercising and communicating. In addition, the teachers at ISPH are also very friendly, enthusiastic and caring. They always encourage students to ask questions and are happy to answer them to make sure all students understand a topic before moving to a new one. This makes the ISPH learning environment friendlier and happier, helping students achieve better results.

ISPH Secondary students in a science lesson.  Photo courtesy of ISPH

ISPH Secondary students in a science lesson. Photo courtesy of ISPH

Bao Khue, a student who joined ISPH at the beginning of this school year, can speak English freely here without being afraid of her friends not understanding what she means or thinking she's bragging about her English skills.

"At ISPH, I get to learn about plays and novels in English lessons instead of just learning grammar and vocabulary like in my old school, which is way more interesting for me," Khue said.

Immersive learning

In addition to curricular subjects, students at international schools are often encouraged to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities and are provided opportunities to develop leadership and life skills.

Therefore, the English they learn at school is a practical language that covers all aspects of life, helping them freely communicate, express personal views and acquire new knowledge in English as well as learn a new language.

ISPH students perform a Broadway musical Annie JR.  Photo courtesy of ISPH

ISPH students perform Broadway musical Annie JR. Photo courtesy of ISPH

Studying in an international school, apart from learning new knowledge, students also learn the way to use language and think like native speakers. They are exposed to many different cultures and accents that help them develop skills and the ability to appropriately communicate and react in a multinational environment. For these reasons, students graduating from international schools can attend any university and college around the world. They are able to confidently study abroad and achieve high results without any language and cultural barriers or differences in thinking, and with greater ability to self-study compared to native speakers.

The International School @ ParkCity Hanoi (ISPH)

ParkCity Hanoi, Le Trong Tan, Ha Dong, Hanoi

www.isph.edu.vn | info@isph.edu.vn | +84 93 44 55 228

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