Native Language @ ISB

Community Resources

March 27, 2024
by ISB Native Language Programs

Translanguaging Is for Everyone

Today is the International Day of Multilingualism, chosen because 27th March 196 BC is the date on the famously multilingual Rosetta Stone. Here is info about a key topic in multilingualism at ISB: translanguaging.

In a recent Grade 6 Social Studies class, ISB teachers introduced a new concept—urbanization—with a slide that displayed it in several of the students’ home languages.

The purpose was partly to provide vocabulary that was new to most of the students in any language. Another purpose was to activate prior knowledge, because while urbanization itself was new, students knew some of its parts: in English, urban and –iz(s)ation. In Chinese and Japanese, city (城市, 都市) and becoming (化). Drawing on students’ full linguistic repertoires gave them many ways to approach the concept.

Affirming and tapping all of students’ languages for their learning is called translanguaging; it is a pedagogical concept that ISB’s faculty and community have been exploring for several years. It is also a term for the fluid ways in which multilingual people use language.

Dr. Kate Seltzer, author of The Translanguaging Classroom, has been providing remote sessions for ISB faculty in 2023-24. In one session, she explains, “Translanguaging . . .  refers to both the everyday way of communicating among bi-/multilingual speakers AND to an approach to teaching that is aligned with this norm and aims to leverage students’ full linguistic repertoire for their learning.”

Slide ©︎ Kate Seltzer

Drawing on students’ full linguistic repertoire in class is a contrast to the former status quo in international schools, where English-only was the norm. This had the unfortunate effect of lowering the status of Languages Other Than English, placing them at risk of atrophy. But as research has progressed, it has become clear that mother tongue strength fuels academic success, including English acquisition—even in reading (a concern for many)—and that translanguaging supports linguistic and cognitive development.

Dr. Eowyn Crisfield has a video that demonstrates her own change in thinking about this topic, as well as a journal article.

Is translanguaging only for English learners? No! Virtually all students at ISB are multilingual, in the sense that they study or use more than one language. Translanguaging across disciplines gets them exercising all of their languages, while enhancing their content learning and expressing their identity. Translanguaging is for everyone. 

In another unit of Grade 6 Social Studies, all students used their laptops to watch a ten-minute video on the history of the Internet—first in English, and then in another language of their choice. For some students, this language was their home language; for others, it was a new language they were studying in World Language class. Some students found the video easier to follow in English; others found it easier to absorb in the Language Other Than English. Either way, after both views, most students had acquired new words or phrases, and all were ready to discuss the content. 

That was what their teachers found exciting to watch!

For ISB parents, Dr. Laura Ascenzi-Moreno and Dr. Cecilia M. Espinosa have presented a one-hour session that is viewable online, asking, “What is translanguaging and why is it important for my family?”

What questions do you have about translanguaging? How do you notice that #multilingualisnormal at ISB?

March 20, 2024
by ISB Native Language Programs

Free Books in Many Languages

Come get some FREE books next to the MPB, in the Panther Native Language Academy office. Books in norsk, Magyar, slovenčina, Khmer, русский, Română, suomi, tiếng Việt, español, 日本語, ภาษาไทย, français, עברית, italiana, 中文, dansk, 한국어, Deutsch, हिन्दी, Nederlands, svenska and more have been donated, and are filling the cupboards! 

Children’s books, teen/adult books, magazines, a few games . . . a bit of everything! Come in and browse. 📚

March 8, 2024
by ISB Native Language Programs

Feliz Día de la Mujer!

A bulletin board in the ES World Language quad (click to enlarge!)

Students and staff at ISB are celebrating International Women’s Day today with stickers, purple clothing, and even multilingual displays.

What is it about delivering a message multilingually that gives it impact? Here is another example: a video of 25 women singing the power ballad “Let It Go,” by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, in 25 languages.

Bonne #IWD2024!

February 21, 2024
by ISB Native Language Programs

Happy International Mother Language Day 2024!

February 21 is International Mother Language Day, “observed every year to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism” according to the UN.

It’s always Mother Language Day in ISB’s Panther Native Language Academy. Here are smiles from 12 of the 57 after-school class sessions running weekly in Season 3. (Click photo to enlarge.)
Happy #IMLD2024!

January 29, 2024
by ISB Native Language Programs

ISB Language Snapshot, Semester 2, 2023-24

What languages might you hear on ISB’s campus these days? Here is a snapshot based on student data for Semester 2, 2023-24 (click to enlarge).

Note: This graph shows the number of students for whom each language is listed as Student Language in PowerSchool. The data is incomplete, as multilingual students could report only one Student Language, and some families did not report a language.

Below is one more snapshot, of how many ISB households are likely to be multilingual. The green portion (19%) represents families for whom English is listed as Student Language, Parent 1 Language, and Parent 2 Language in PowerSchool. The blue portion represents all families for whom that is not the case.

Since English is a common language at school, it may come as a surprise that 81% of ISB households are not monolingual, English-speaking households. This graph makes that reality visible.

To check on your family’s language data in PowerSchool, contact us anytime:

January 11, 2024
by ISB Native Language Programs

Sign Up for Panther Native Language Academy Seasons 3-4

Registration is open for after-school classes in Panther Native Language Academy in Seasons 3-4. 
PNLA registration is part of Activities Registration, open online on CCA through January 25. Steps:
1. In PowerSchool/CCA, register for your language under Activities: Native Language. Pay the fee covering Seasons 3 & 4, February 5-June 9. (Note: Dutch tuition differs and should be paid to DCS.)
2. Watch for an email or survey about scheduling from the Native Language Coordinator. In general, we hope to keep the schedule in Seasons 3-4 as similar to Seasons 1-2 as possible. 
Please feel free to browse more information on this blog, or email:

December 14, 2023
by ISB Native Language Programs

Happy Holidays from Panther Native Language Academy

ES Japanese students twist rice straw from Phetchaburi province into なわ飾り decorations for New Year. Teacher: Miyuki Jessee

Happy Holidays to you and yours from Panther Native Language Academy!

All PNLA classes will start again on January 8, 2024. It will still be Season 2. 

Here’s to a language-rich Winter Holiday!

November 22, 2023
by ISB Native Language Programs

Why is Being Bilingual Good for Your Brain?

“It used to be thought that being bilingual was a bad thing – that it would confuse or hold people back, especially children. It turns out, we couldn’t have been more wrong.”

This BBC video (posted on October 30, 2023) explores what bilingualism does in the brain, and the benefits to being bilingual. One of the featured speakers is Thomas Bak, co-founder of the International Day of Multilingualism.

November 6, 2023
by ISB Native Language Programs

Work Out in Your Languages!

Did you know? The refurbished ISB Fitness Center has treadmills and stationery bikes with software that runs in many ISB languages.

Users can adjust the settings to make text appear in different languages for tracking workout sessions and statistics. To learn how, just ask supervisor Khun Dee (below). 

Using technology in all of one’s languages can reinforce reading skills—a linguistic workout to go with the physical one!

The Fitness Center is open to students in HS and grade 8, to faculty and staff, and to parents. Students can learn more from their PE teachers and coaches. Parents can sign up to use the facility by logging in to PowerSchool. Under Miscellaneous, click: Fitness room agreement

October 6, 2023
by ISB Native Language Programs

New Opportunities in Panther Native Language Academy in Season 2

Panther Native Language Academy Season (Session) 2 will begin on November 6, with some new opportunities on offer:

  • a new Spanish option for ES (K-5)
  • open slots in PK2 Mandarin (please choose one: Tuesday OR Wednesday)

All other languages continue straight on from Season 1 with no change. Families who registered and paid for PNLA in Season 1 have already paid for Season 2 as well, so no need to re-register.

Registration on CCA for Season 2 will open on October 9th at 6pm and close on Thursday, October 19th at 6pm.

Questions always welcome!

Students play a Pictionary game called “Wer bin ich?” in lower ES German class. Teacher: Christine (Tina) Klempin