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Languages and Literacy

“GWA inspires students to become multilingual, lifelong learners….”

George Washington Academy prepares students for an increasingly multicultural, global workforce through a unique, multilingual educational program. Using research driven methodology, our students receive high quality instruction in English, French, and Arabic.

Literacy at GWA

“Scholars have maintained that literacy cannot be divorced from cultural and sociopolitical contexts, and though learning to read and write is an achievement, the act of acquiring literacy has social and political consequences that transcend the individual.” (Ntiri, 2009). Literacy skills include much more than just reading and writing. Literacy encompasses understanding that words have meaning, comprehending and interpreting text, and making connections to the real world. With this in mind, our students are taught to acquire literacy skills in multiple languages from the beginning of their careers. While children are able to easily acquire multiple languages orally, the skills needed for reading and writing, however, must be explicitly taught in a systematic way. Language and literacy instruction at GWA is based on core beliefs about language learning.

We believe that:
  • Young children can learn many oral languages at once.
  • Written literacy (reading and writing) is best learned first in the child’s strongest language.
  • Once literacy is developed substantially, other reading and writing systems can be successfully added.

Our goal is to provide a rich, deep language experience for our students. In order to accomplish this goal, we use English as the primary spoken language for all core classes, and chose French for initial reading and writing as it is a core language for most of our students and their families. With this model, our students learn to read and write in their strongest language, and then transfer that strong foundation to additional written languages.

The model looks like this:

Nursery and Discovery – Our English Immersion Nursery and Discovery programs develop oral English Language skills using constructive play, stories, crafts, and thematic units.

Pre-K and Kinder – Core classes, including Math, Science, Social Studies, and English are taught by native English speakers for the majority of the day. High quality native French speaking teachers instruct literacy development, including oral language, letters, sounds, and writing for 90 minutes daily.

1st Grade – Students continue their development in core subjects with a native English speaking teacher. Their French literacy expands to 120 daily minutes of instruction, laying a strong foundation for reading and writing in French by the end of the year. Oral classical Arabic is added twice a week.

2nd-5th Grades - Building on the strong foundation in French written language, English reading and writing are introduced and continued at an accelerated pace. Because students already have solid reading skills in French at the end of first grade, the skills necessary for English reading transfer naturally. The accelerated pace brings them on-level with American peers by the end of fourth grade. French and Arabic language instruction, both written and oral, continue. By the time our students graduate fifth grade, they are competent in three languages, giving them the ability to achieve higher levels in both English and French.

English

As an American accredited school, we use English as our primary language of instruction. From our Nursery program for two year olds to our seniors in high school, our native English speaking teachers foster an environment rich in English language instruction. Our students receive high quality instruction through the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and utilization of diversely rich texts and American-based curriculum. From our youngest scholars to our graduates, we seek to prepare global citizens equipped to impact Morocco, the United States, and the world.

All core subjects, including math, English oral language and non-reading literacy skills (i.e. story structure, sequence of events, and understanding characters) are taught in English. Additionally, all specials-physical education, computers, music, and library, are English based. Our classroom teachers are native English speakers and the environment is rich in English.

French

Most of our students enter school with French as the language of the home and environment. In our preschool and Elementary programs, French is the language of initial literacy development. Initial reading and writing skills are developed first in French classes with native French speaking instructors. Pre-K and Kinder students will receive 90 minutes/day of French instruction.

In 1st Grade, students develop literacy in French. Our instructional practices focus on learning centers with small group interaction with their teacher. By the end of the year we expect most students to be able to read age-appropriate French texts and write sentences and basic paragraphs. Students receive 120 minutes/day of French instruction.

In 2nd-5th grades, our French program continues to develop French literacy, but also develops the oral and academic grammar and French skills necessary to be successful in the French-speaking world. Students receive 50 minutes/day of French instruction through 5th grade.

Beginning in second grade we provide French resource for our non-native French speaking students who need additional support.

Arabic

Standard Arabic is the third language taught at GWA beginning in 1st grade. As with natural language development, we begin with oral language skills and over the course of the elementary years add in the literacy system so that by the end of 5th grade, students are able to decode, write, speak, and understand simple Arabic. Arabic is taught twice a week beginning in 1st grade and increased to three times a week in 4th & 5th grades.

Beginning in fourth grade we provide Arabic resource for our non-native Arabic speaking students who need additional support.

English Literacy Track

The English literacy track is for those expat students moving from country to country in English speaking schools as well as a minority of non-French speaking students in grades Pre-K through 1st, who need to develop sufficient English skills to be successful in learning to read in English before moving on to another English speaking country. These students will not have the opportunity to participate in the full GWA French literacy program through the Preschool and Elementary years. Application to the English literacy track is available through a meeting with the Principal.

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