Language Immersion and Acquisition

El aprendizaje de un idioma abre puertas a mundos nuevos y posibilidades nuevas L’apprentissage d’une langue ouvre des portes à nouveaux mondes et nouvelles possibilités Language learning opens doors to new worlds and new possibilities

At International School of Brooklyn, we believe that language learning and multilingualism are the most direct ways to connect with other cultures and diverse viewpoints. The infinitely rewarding experience of learning a new language broadens our students’ horizons by bringing them in contact with new people, places, and ideas. Compassion, humility, adaptability, and enhanced creative and critical thinking are just some of the virtues and skills that our students develop and cultivate in ISB’s unique language immersion setting. 

Students graduate ISB with excellent communication skills in both English and their target languages and a strong foundation for success in various academic and professional pursuits, because the benefits of acquiring a second or third language extend far beyond fluency. Second language learners have been proven to attain higher reading levels and develop a more expansive vocabulary in their native language, achieve higher academic performance at the college levels, and score higher on standardized tests.

Spanish and French are the official languages of over 40 countries, and their influence reaches all aspects of society, including arts and literature, the economy, science, technology, and so much more. By learning these widely-spoken world languages, ISB students begin to engage with a multitude of perspectives, starting right here in New York City’s multicultural landscape.

How Language Acquisition Happens at International School of Brooklyn

We recognize that motivation is a major driving force behind successful language learning, and our unique combination of language immersion and the International Baccalaureate’s inquiry-based pedagogy encourages students to communicate in their target language (French or Spanish) about topics that are engaging and relevant to them. By learning their target language through subjects, units, and contexts that ignite their curiosity, our students find joy and meaning in their acquisition process.

All of our teachers are native speakers in the target language, and they come to ISB from a variety of cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Teachers use culturally authentic and diverse resources to create thought-provoking learning environments to expand students’ thinking in a global context.

ISB’s trilingual library collection supports classroom learning and literacy in target languages, with over 14,000 books in various genres that tell stories from all around the world. Our multicultural and multilingual school community also helps to reinforce students’ language acquisition, providing an abundance of opportunities for students to practice the target language outside of the classroom with peers, educators, and families. 

Language Coordinators

ISB’s team of Language Coordinators facilitate language acquisition and development across all divisions by providing resources, developing curriculum maps, and identifying best strategies.

Karuna Hernandez
Spanish Language Coordinator

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Laetitia Gabriel-Caldwell
French Language Coordinator

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Emily Auchincloss
English Language Coordinator

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Our Graduated Immersion Model

International School of Brooklyn has created a graduated language immersion model that implements the most beneficial practices for acquiring a second language while simultaneously ensuring that students are building a strong academic foundation in English. This unique approach enables students to  comfortably navigate two languages in both social and academic contexts, setting the stage for a lifetime of language learning.

The Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 grades begin with a fully immersive classroom experience in which 100% of core instruction is taught in the target language (French or Spanish). As students move on to Kindergarten and up through the elementary grades in Lower School, core instruction in English is gradually increased, with an emphasis on building literacy and skills fundamental to the English language. In Preschool, younger children’s inherent ability to absorb languages is maximized through daily routines, conversation, and play. By facilitating play and nurturing curiosity, teachers provide students the opportunity to spontaneously engage with their target language. Motivated by their natural desire to know more about the world around them, students organically expand their vocabulary and increase their fluency in French or Spanish. Language development is a central component of the school day in Preschool. Morning circle time and other daily routines reinforce lexicon and language structures, and throughout the day, through teacher-directed inquiries and free play,  students interact with their teachers and classmates exclusively in the target language. 

As students move on to Kindergarten and up through the elementary grades in Lower School, core instruction in English is gradually increased, with an emphasis on building literacy and other fundamental skills in English.

In Lower School, the International Baccalaureate curriculum for 1st Grade through 5th Grade is delivered in both English and the target language, with English instruction time gradually increasing across the grades. Our Lower School’s program’s approach to bilingual instruction is focused on equipping students with a solid foundation in reading, writing, and math in French or Spanish and in English. This allows students to meaningfully engage with more complex subject matter in social studies, science, and art. Our English Language Faculty and Target Language Faculty collaborate on each unit of inquiry to design complimentary lesson plans that reinforce and solidify key concepts. As our students learn unit content in one language, they are able to make  connections that support learning in the other.

As students progress to the Middle School, the previously laid foundation in their target language allows them to progress to higher level academic work in French or Spanish. The Middle School comprises a multilingual curriculum, and students explore the eight IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) subject areas in English, Spanish, and French. Throughout the 6th, 7th, and 8th Grade years, Mathematics, Sciences, Language and Literature, Physical and Health Education, Design, and Performing Arts classes are taught in English. Concurrently, Middle School students continue to build fluency in Spanish or French through their Individuals and Societies (Humanities), Visual Arts, and Language Studies course, all taught in the target language. Communication skills are an important tenet of the MYP across all subjects. By the time students graduate from our Middle School, they are able to interact with native speakers with a high degree of fluency and spontaneity, understand complex texts on both abstract and concrete topics, write in a detailed manner on a wide range of subjects, and explain diverse viewpoints in their target language. In 6th Grade, Middle School students also begin to study a third language other than their native tongue or target language. This Language Acquisition course provides students the skills to facilitate further language learning in their future academic, professional, and personal lives. 

Students who join ISB in 6th Grade with limited second language experience take beginner to intermediate level French or Spanish Acquisition classes through the 8th Grade. These students who are new to language learning also benefit from ISB’s immersive environment, which provides them with limitless opportunities to practice their language with other students, faculty and staff, and families.

Pre-K 3 & Pre-K 4
100% instruction in French or Spanish

90% instruction in Spanish or French
10% instruction in English

1st – 3rd Grade
75% instruction in Spanish or French
25% instruction in English

4th and 5th Grade
50% instruction in Spanish or French
50% instruction in English

6th-8th Grade
Multilingual Program
43% course content in Spanish and French
57% course content in English

6th-8th Grade
Bilingual Program
15% course content in Spanish or French
85% course content in English