Language Learning

English Language Support

We place a strong focus on helping our students to succeed in the classroom and because our primary language of instruction is English, it is important that our students are given the best opportunity to succeed. This is why we offer a comprehensive English as a Second Language (ESL) programme for our non-native English-speaking students.

Students working at beginner English levels will attend additional small group English classes instead of Chinese lessons during the day. Students may also receive additional support within their homeroom if needed. Our ESL programme is designed to support and encourage the best learning outcomes of fluency and understanding within a school year.

As an international school we understand the importance of children being able to effectively communicate and understand during class times and even with friends. This is why we have a carefully thought out curriculum that is implemented in each of our grade levels.

Early Years

Students in our Pre-Nursery to Kindergarten classes are supported in the acquisition of English as a second language through a rich and inviting environment where the language of instruction and teacher-initiated interaction is English. Students receive gentle and supportive encouragement to use English themselves as well as direct instruction in English language through age appropriate activities. Students with little or no English, also receive additional English language support through small group lessons.


All students in our Elementary school will be tested on their English language level at the time of our placement assessment. The results of the assessment determine the best class placement to meet the student’s needs. We offer lessons based on a language continuum from the level of beginner to native speaker. Students working at beginner English levels will attend additional small group English classes instead of Chinese lessons. Students may also receive additional support within their homeroom.


Students applying for our Secondary school will be tested on their English language level at the time of our placement assessment. This test includes elements of reading, writing, and speaking English. The results of this test place students along a language continuum from beginner to native speaker.

In Grades 6 and 7 students with limited English will be required to attend our Intensive Jump Start English class.  Students enrolled in the Jump Start Programme have a language focused timetable with 50% of their comprised of English language lessons.

Students in Grades 8 through 10 are required to be at a fully functional academic English level that is beyond that of an English language beginner. Assessment of language ability will be carried out and determined by the head of our Secondary ESL department during the placement assessment.

Grade 11 and 12 students are expected to be sufficiently proficient in English in order to access our curriculum. Assessment of suitability is carried out on a case by case basis by our ESL department and relevant programme coordinators.

In order to better support our non-native English speaking Secondary students we offer an afterschool English Plus programme through our Community  Learning Hub. This fast-paced and rigorous programme is designed to improve reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.

Chinese Lessons

We recognize the importance of learning the language of our host country and many of our parents inquire on how proficient in Chinese their child may become while attending SSIS. In our Early Years and Elementary school every child will have 40 minutes of Chinese instruction daily. These classes are designed to encourage a broader understanding of both the Chinese language and the culture. In our Secondary school, students will have one class dedicated to Chinese as a second language as part of the curriculum if they so choose.


Mother Tongue Classes

In keeping with the IB philosophy, maintenance of mother tongue is encouraged and supported at SSIS. We recognize that continuing to develop our students’ mother tongue and literacy skills in their home language is imperative in the development of their English language skills.

Presently we offer the following mother tongue programmes as part of the curriculum: German, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.

Should there be a need and request we are happy to facilitate additional mother tongue lessons by providing classroom space for external tutors to deliver instruction, either face-to-face or online. Tutors are employed and compensated by the parents of the students involved in the program. In the past we have supported languages such as French, Czech, Dutch, Swedish and Latin.