Native Language @ ISB

Native Language Academy Office at Top of Zigzag

August 13, 2019 · No Comments

Welcome to the new school year! Looking for the Native Language Coordinator? Find me in the new Native Language Academy office at the top of the Zigzag. 

Native Language Academy office

You can also find me this Saturday, August 18, 2019, at the Community Activities Information, Registration and Payment Day, to be held from 9 a.m.-noon in the Elementary School Air-Conditioned Gym.

I am sending surveys (Google Forms) to all language communities currently served by our after-school Native Language classes. Please kindly complete the survey for your language(s).

Sample survey (German)

Last but not least, reach me anytime online by emailing:

Here’s to a language-rich year!


Avery Udagawa, Native Language Coordinator

→ No CommentsCategories: After-school classes · Native Language at ISB

After-School Native Languages—Double the Learning Time!

June 4, 2019 · No Comments

We’re excited to announce that starting in the 2019-2020 school year, we will be expanding our after-school Native Language classes at ISB. Beginning in September, we will be offering two sessions each week for each language in which there is adequate demand. This will allow your children to have twice as much instruction time for the same cost. Instruction will be provided by passionate, dedicated teachers who will carry ISB’s Vision, Mission, Learning Attributes, and Values into each class.

ISB Native Language Academy 2019-2020. Click to enlarge.

The Native Language Academy will run after-school allowing for flexibility in class sizes, intentional groupings across age and language needs, and schedule setting. The native languages that are currently offered within the school day will remain unchanged, with classes every second day in Elementary School (Thai) and Middle School and High School (French, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish and Thai). After-school classes are not a replacement for Native Language classes offered in school.

Most after-school classes will be offered twice a week for an hour each session. The languages on offer:

  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Spanish

For Pre-Kindergarten, Thai and Mandarin will be on offer once a week.

A native/near native language is generally described as a language that is used on a daily basis with at least one parent. This is fundamental to ensure that the language can be supported outside of the classroom. We believe that native language learning happens best when students experience a strong home-school partnership.

The schedule of classes will be shared at the start of next school year, as registrations are received and confirmed. To inquire about native language support for your children, in any of the languages above or a language not listed, please email:

→ No CommentsCategories: After-school classes · Native Language at ISB

Native Language Books Have New Home in MS/HS Main Library

May 29, 2019 · No Comments

Need some multilingual reading for summer? Native Language books in ISB’s Main Library for MS/HS have moved to the tall shelving in the Literary Lounge, the room to the left as you enter the library.
The collection currently includes books in Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Turkish and Thai, and is due to to expand in both language range and book quantity in coming months (hence the extra space).
Meanwhile, summer checkout begins on Tuesday, June 4. Parents as well as students are welcome to borrow books! 
Summer checkout in the ES Library (Hub) also begins on June 4; the Native Language collection here includes books in Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish, and Thai.

→ No CommentsCategories: Books · Native Language at ISB
Tagged: , ,

Student Publishes Essay in Mainichi Shimbun

May 21, 2019 · 1 Comment

A student in ISB’s MS Native Japanese class has published an essay in the Mainichi Shimbun, a premier national newspaper in Japan. The student, Yuiko, wrote about how watching two famous figure skaters inspired her to keep working hard as a flutist.

Yuiko drafted and submitted her essay along with all students in MS Native Japanese, taught by Kahoru Nakamachi, in a Media and Culture unit. In this unit, student worked on articulating their opinions with a particular media outlet, audience, purpose, and style in mind.

Some students submitted their essays to Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper, in which two ISB students published essays last year; other students submitted to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. Yuiko chose the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper because her grandparents in Osaka subscribe.

In her essay (published March 31, 2019), Yuiko expresses what the word ganbaru (頑張る) means to her, including self-motivation and follow-through, referring to the careers of Mao Asada and Yuzuru Hanyu.  

Thoughtful reflection about one’s learning, as well as writing for an authentic audience, are key tasks for multilingual students and highly valued at ISB.

→ 1 CommentCategories: Native Language at ISB
Tagged: , , ,

Being a Second Language Learner

May 7, 2019 · No Comments

How do multilingual students feel when struggling with a language? Embarrassed, shy, and sometimes “awful,” according to Yeonie, a grade 11 student who presented at TEDxYouth@ISBangkok 2019.

Drawing on her experience as a Korean speaker learning English at ISB for three years, Yeonie powerfully described going quiet and even changing her personality when switching from Korean to English. She offered seasoned advice to both language learners and their peers.

To language learners, she urged learning from mistakes and letting yourself “be a kid, be a child.” 

To native speakers of a language that others are learning, she urged respect, encouragement, and patience. “Wait for us.”

Yeonie, 잘 했습니다.

→ No CommentsCategories: Multilingualism · Native Language at ISB
Tagged: ,

Of 日本語, High-Contrast Languages, and ISB Parents

April 25, 2019 · No Comments

According to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute, several languages represented at ISB are “exceptionally difficult” for persons whose main language is English. This is because the languages—Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Arabic—contrast highly with English, for example in their writing systems.

For students who study mostly in English at ISB, it can be hard to maintain proficiency in these languages, even as native speakers. Beyond speaking the languages at home and taking classes, many students make extra efforts related to the languages—as do their parents.

In the Elementary School, Japanese parent volunteers run morning literacy sessions twice per week, in which students practice Japanese reading and writing before going off to their homeroom classes. The morning sessions complement weekly classes taught by Ms. Kaori Iwaki, and weekly afternoon cultural activities led by High School Japanese students.

The morning sessions are well attended and, in combination with other efforts, lead to clear progress in students’ writing and reading skills. Massive thanks to the ISB parents who give their time for this purpose!

→ No CommentsCategories: Native Language at ISB

Choir Performance ภาษาไทย

April 12, 2019 · No Comments

As the Songkran holiday approaches, enjoy this clip of Thai-language choral performance by ISB’s HS delegates to IASIS Cultural Convention, March 2019.


Here, the delegates perform บัวขาว (Bua Khao, or White Lotus) with lyrics by Prince Bhanubandh Yugala, music by Puangroi Apaiwong, and arrangement by Atichai Tragoondet. Singers are (from left) Jillian, Saharat, Andrew, Rhea, Jitpuwapat, Rada, Nevaan, and Leah. 

The Thai speakers in the ensemble coached their classmates and MS/HS choral director Andy Marshall on pronunciation and meaning of the piece. At top is the first page of the score with Mr. Marshall’s annotations.

Enjoy a peaceful Thai New Year.

→ No CommentsCategories: Native Language at ISB

TED Talks en français + en español!

April 3, 2019 · No Comments

Students in ISB’s MS Native French and Spanish classes recently prepared TED-style talks in their native languages.

As part of the unit Wellbeing and Health, the students researched the theme, wrote speeches, and presented in Chevron Theatre in front of a small audience. 
Teacher Maite Montero-Nahoum writes, “Students were investigating how health and wellbeing are connected to personal choices and decisions, and how cultural values may influence these choices and decisions.  Students also investigated what constitutes a healthy lifestyle and how it is influenced by one’s culture and environment . . . all cultures can provide healthy diets but not necessarily in the same way.”
Many of ISB’s values could be found onstage, as students demonstrated courage, commitment and responsibility. Well done!
Photo: MS Native Spanish students in Chevron Theatre.

→ No CommentsCategories: Native Language at ISB


March 27, 2019 · 1 Comment


March 27, 2019, is the first International Day of Multilingualism. Founded by a network of language professionals, including Dr. Thomas H. Bak of the University of Edinburgh—clinical research fellow in the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences and Co-Director of Bilingualism Matters, long linked in this blog’s Bookmarks—the day celebrates “the multi-layered, multi-lingual way that humans actually use languages in our everyday lives.” The date commemorates the date on the Rosetta Stone, which corresponds to March 27, 196 BC.

The official website states, 

Everyone is a linguist. People talk. It’s just what humans do. As a species we have evolved over thousands of years and adapted to speaking more than one language very easily. 

But somehow the dialogue has changed over the last couple of centuries and speaking more than one language is commonly perceived as irregular, or special, when in fact more than two thirds of the world’s population speak two or more languages in their daily life. We’re not talking about the incredible polyglots who speak ten or more languages. Just the day-to-day use of language that is as much as part of our normal day as, say, enjoying a cup of coffee.

Ways to take part are listed here and include a hashtag: #multilingualisnormal

The hashtag was shared with ISB HS students in their email bulletin today. 

Happy International Day of Multilingualism!

→ 1 CommentCategories: Multilingualism
Tagged: ,


March 20, 2019 · No Comments

The saying “a book is like a garden (carried in your pocket)” adorns pillows, mugs, bookmarks, t-shirts, and doormats in English, and the graphic above this paragraph was made by a user of German. But the proverb originated in Chinese.

And ISB’s Chinese parent community has given a gift of books to our students.

Proceeds from the Chinese stand at last year’s International Family Fair (IFF) have gone to fund two orders of books in Mandarin, for the ES Library (Hub) and the MS/HS Library. All of the books are now on shelves. These books were ordered by librarians in collaboration with Mandarin faculty to facilitate independent reading.

The title of this post features a version of the book/garden proverb in Traditional Chinese. Here is a version in Simplified Chinese:


We would like to say to parents 謝謝 and 谢谢!

→ No CommentsCategories: Books
Tagged: ,