Language Policy

  • Mission Statement

    The mission of Maxwell Academy is to provide our students with an inquiry-based environment, where they develop into compassionate internationally-minded citizens who create, collaborate, communicate, and think critically in order to be successful in the world.

    Statement of Philosophy

    At Maxwell Academy, we believe that language is an essential part of one’s identity; allowing us to understand other’s perspectives, ideas, beliefs, and values. It is central to our ability to learn and build our knowledge of the world. Language is taught intentionally, as well as through everyday experiences and interactions. It is continually enhanced through reading, writing, listening, speaking, creating, and presenting.

    We are committed to encouraging proficiency in the mother tongue as well as additional languages. 

    At Maxwell Academy, we believe that students learn best if they are provided with opportunities to:

    • Communicate, Collaborate, Think Critically, and be Creative
    • Foster their curiosity through inquiry
    • Develop language through reading, writing, listening, speaking, creating, and presenting
    • Read a wide variety of texts
    • Write across the curriculum
    • Utilize visual organizers, to process their thoughts and ideas
    • Make connections between languages
    • Reflect on their learning and self-assess

    We believe that students learn best when teachers:

    • Recognize and respect the variety of ways that students learn and express their learning
    • Provide students with a language-rich learning environment
    • Facilitate learning
    • Differentiate the learning experiences
    • Use a wide range of teaching and assessment strategies
    • Provide multiple opportunities to practice language
    • Provide repeated exposure to content and concepts
    • Use visual aids and manipulatives to support instruction
    • Teach and model communication skills
    • Use academic language
    • Recognize and respect the mother tongue of students

    During language instruction, teachers will:

    • Provide students with a safe learning environment
    • Serve as facilitators
    • Implement best practices with integrity
    • Teach and model communication skills
    • Use academic language
    • Engage students in deeper level questioning and collaborative discussions
    • Incorporate technology
    • Encourage parent participation and involvement
    • Engage in continuous professional development
    • Provide scaffolds
    • Develop clearly defined learning objectives

    Programs, Resources and Activities that Support Language Development

    At Maxwell Academy, the following Reading Practices will be used:

    • Students will read across the curriculum in all subject areas, in a variety of genres.
    • Students will read for a variety of reasons, including for information, pleasure, and fluency.
    • A range of teaching strategies will be used including, but not limited to:


    • Guided Reading
    • Independent Reading
    • Close Reading Strategy
    • Incorporate small and whole group learning opportunities for instruction
    • Read Alouds
    • Graphic organizers
    • Thinking Maps
    • Project GLAD Strategies
    • Direct and explicit instruction
    • Read 180 and System 44 Intervention
    • Online support programs


    • Phonemic Awareness and Phonics instruction will be taught explicitly.
    • Students will participate in the Reading Counts incentive program.
    • Vocabulary development will be supported through the use of:


    • Project GLAD strategies
    • Graphic organizers
    • Thinking Maps
    • Visuals
    • Collaborative discussions
    • Think-Pair-Share
    • Academic language

    At Maxwell Academy, the following Writing Practices will be used:

    • Students will write across the curriculum in all subject areas, in a variety of genres.
    • Students will write for a variety of reasons, including for a purpose, pleasure, and practice.
    • Multiple opportunities to write, both formally and informally
    • Consistent implementation of the writing process
    • Graphic organizers
    • Teacher modeling
    • Whole-class, small group, and independent writing
    • Interactive writing
    • Constructive feedback provided by both teachers and peers
    • Writing supports including sentence stems, writing frames, word banks, and sentence patterning charts
    • Explicit instruction and modeling in language conventions, including spelling, grammar, and punctuation
    • Six elements of writing


    At Maxwell Academy, the following Oral Language Practices will be used:

    • Multiple opportunities to practice listening and speaking skills for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
    • presentation
    • oral reflections
    • class discussions
    • Think-Pair-Share
    • Heads Together
    • Students will speak in complete sentences with the support of sentence frames, word banks, & sentence patterning charts
    • Teacher modeling
    • Use of academic language
    • Use of visuals
    • Use of chants and poems
    • Vocabulary development
    • Total Physical Response (TPR)
    • Role play
    • Chorus (K-4)
    • Cold Calling


    Mother Tongue Support

     The student body of Maxwell Academy is represented by over 90% Latino and Hispanic students who speak both English and/or Spanish. There is a small population of about 7% of the students who are African American and speak English. In addition, less than 1% of the student population is Asian or Caucasian and they speak English. Add languages spoken by Asian speaking families in our population. The staff is comprised of cultural backgrounds including African American, Asian, Caucasian and Hispanic or Latino. All members of the staff speak English, but some staff members also speak Spanish and mandarin? (Ms Yang).  Approximately 20 percent  recheck percent of the teaching staff have Bilingual Cross-cultural *No Dash on BCLAD website Language and Academic (BCLAD) Certification. The remainder of the teaching staff have Cross-cultural Language and Academic (CLAD) Certification or EL and SDAIE Authorization.

    At Maxwell, we provide support for the mother tongue of students by:

    • Providing ELD (English Language Development) instruction
    • Using SDAIE strategies throughout all content area instruction
    • Providing language support in small groups - Teaching Learning Coach and Instructional Aides
    • Making connections through the use of cognates and roots
    • Encouraging students to maintain their mother tongue language
    • Activating prior knowledge
    • Encouraging paired discussions (speaking and writing)
    • Speaking to students in home language (teacher/peer)
    • Honoring and supporting the mother tongue by making connections between English, Mandarin, and Mother Tongue
    • Offering library resources - Spanish and other language books in classroom and school library
    • Translating home-school information and communication


    Learning a Second Language (Mandarin )

    Maxwell Academy provides second-language instruction to all students in Mandarin beginning in Kindergarten and continuing all the way through eighth grade. Students currently receive instruction once a week for 45 minutes in Elementary (K-5). Middle school (6-8) students receive instruction for an average of 120 minutes per week.  Through language instruction, all students will work toward proficiency in the basic communication skills of Mandarin.

    At Maxwell, we provide support for learning a second language through the use of:

    • Mandarin Wall (PYP)
      • Vocabulary cue cards
    • Use of visuals and manipulatives to develop concepts
    • Videos, songs and games to support language development
    • Repetition
    • Interactive lessons
    • Technology
    • Dialogue with peers and instructors
    • Speaking in complete sentences
    • Use of sentence frames to support oral communication
    • Connections to grade level units of inquiry when appropriate
    • Focus on basics (tone)

    Professional Development for Staff and Faculty

    The staff and faculty of Maxwell Academy participate in on-going professional development that supports language learning and teaching. In addition, the teaching staff hold BCLAD or CLAD Certification, or EL and SDAIE Authorization to support the language development of the students.

    The professional development may include, but is not limited to:

    • IB Primary and Middle Years Programme Level I, II, and III training, Inclusion for Special Education
    • Project GLAD training (Guided Language Acquisition Design)
    • Nancy Fetzer Writing training
    • Common Core Writing training
    • Google summits/ed tech
    • Language development and teaching training, as needed
    • Professional readings and articles to stay abreast of strategies related to language learning and teaching

    Review of Assessment Policy and Practices

    The Grade levels and the staff as a whole will review their language practices annually. Feedback will be gathered from the grade levels and staff in order to review and amend the language  policy annually mid year. The revised language policy will then be communicated to staff, students, parents, and other stakeholders.


    • Guidelines for Developing a School Language Policy; IBO (2009)
    • Learning in a language other than mother tongue in IB programmes; IBO (2009)


    Since language is central to learning, all teachers are, in practice, language teachers with responsibilities in facilitating communication. Guidelines for Developing a School Language Policy, IBO (2009)