School Life

Language Acquisition

At the ISUtrecht we recognise that our community is multilingual. We believe that the acquisition of more than one language enriches intellectual and personal growth and nurtures international mindedness. It is through language acquisition both at home and at school that students develop a life-long interest and ability to learn new languages, as well as a deeper sense of self and identity. Language acquisition involves learning languages, learning about languages and learning through languages.  

Students and staff wish Miffy (Nijntje) a happy birthday in their home language(s)

As we celebrate our multilingualism, ISUtrecht uses English as its common and academic language. All classes, other than language acquisition classes, are taught in English. However, we encourage the inclusion of home languages in our daily school lives. In addition, at the ISUtrecht every student learns Dutch and from the start of the MYP (grade 6) all students also learn Spanish. In the Diploma Programme students have the option to also follow a school supported self taught (SSST) literature course in their mother tongue. If they pass the exam for this course, the students obtain a bilingual diploma from the IB. 

English Language Acquisition

All our English Language Acquisition (ELA) students will take part in an immersion programme. This means ELA students are challenged academically in the same curriculum as their peers. Through this programme we aim for students to become proficient in English, including academic language at an age appropriate level. The programme is designed to help students for whom English is an additional language, to participate fully in the academic and social aspects of our school.  

The ELA programme encompasses both the primary and secondary schools. Beginning English Language Acquisition students are accepted into the MYP for grades 6 and 7 only. From grade 8 onwards, students need to have an appropriate level of English to access the curriculum. To establish this, and the possible support each student might need, students may be asked to take an entrance test prior to acceptance into the programme. English admissions testing includes age appropriate reading comprehension task with written responses, and an interview. To ensure we can enable each student to thrive, acceptance is under the school’s discretion and deciding factors will include the applicants’ English language test results, grade level, and academic grades.  

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One amazing aspect of our ISUtrecht community is the way we embrace multilingualism. By definition, multilingualism is the use of more than one language. We have many students at our school who are exposed to 3 or 4 languages in their household. But what about a child who speaks English at home to their family? Well, in all cases these children are learning Dutch and/or Spanish (in the upper grades) in school and this forms what is often known in the field as ‘Manufactured Multilingualism’ and develops the linguistic repertoire of those children. No matter where a student falls on this multilingual spectrum, it is our goal to celebrate, maintain and develop their knowledge of the languages around them. We use a variety of strategies, such as creating individual language profiles across the school, ‘language as concept’ and ‘inquiry into multilingual unit vocabulary’. Unit vocabulary is often put on display in different languages to place our classroom languages in the spotlight. 

Home Languages

Parents regularly read aloud in their home language in the library

Since ISUtrecht is a multi-lingual community, we embrace our cultural and linguistic diversity. We celebrate the variety of languages spoken and encourage families to maintain and enrich their home language(s). 

As a school, we are consistently updating and developing our home language programme.We currently offer after school lessons for primary students in a number of languages. The ISUtrecht is working on making these MT clubs available for secondary students too. We are strengthening our Language Profile Project to make it a central part of our academic year. In addition to this, throughout the year teachers encourage students to use their home languages to access the school curriculum and communicate together, in a secure and positive manner. Every year we celebrate the ISUtrecht Home Languages Week.  

Dutch & Spanish Language Acquisition

At the ISUtrecht all students, from KG up to an including grade 10, learn Dutch. All secondary students from grade 6 up to an including grade 10 also study Spanish. In the Diploma Programme, for Language and Literature students can choose to study English, Dutch or (one of) their home languages, and for Language Acquisition they can choose between English, Spanish and Dutch.  

The Dutch Language Acquisition (DULA) programmes aims for students to be able to communicate in Dutch with confidence and functionality and participate in Dutch culture, while the Spanish Language Acquisition course aims to enable students to develop communicative competence in Spanish.

Our students learn Dutch and Spanish in a supportive and engaging environment. They are encouraged to listen and speak as much as possible. Students also learn about Dutch and Spanish celebrations and abut Dutch and Spanish habits and customs.