At the European School Brussels 1 we have put in place a system of organizing English L2 classes which we believe to be the most effective for our pupils.
This method addresses two important criteria:
- the large number of pupils who choose English as their L2;
- the specific needs of individual pupils, regardless of their level of English;
Cycle 1: Years 1-3
In S1 the L1 level class from primary is continued and the remaining groups are standard mixed ability, with the objective of creating classes with a wide variety of nationalities, a wide range of abilities and a good balance of boys and girls. Transfer to the L1 level group is NOT automatic and is on merit only. The group may be joined by SWALS students and other students if they are deemed suitable. An appropriate test will take place to ensure fairness for all students. More information about the L1 level class is given towards the end of this document.
For the remaining groups, from 2016 the pupils will be redistributed from the L2 groups the students were in during their primary years. All things being equal, these groups will remain together for two years
In S3 the groups (apart from the L1 level group) may be redistributed again if the department feel it is necessary.
At the end of cycle 1 students will be expected to have reached the level of B1 on the Common European Framework (CEF). You can find more information on these levels on the Council of Europe site http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/cadre1_en.asp
Cycle 2: Years 4-5
In S4 the groups are reorganized again in order to give pupils a chance to have wider contacts with those from other language sections. They also change teachers in order to come in contact with different accents and different teaching styles. At the end of the S5 year all pupils sit the same harmonized examination.
At the end of cycle 2 students will be expected to have reached the level of B2 on the CEF
Cycle 3: Years 6-7
In S6 the groups are once more reorganized, integrating the pupils from the L1 level class. These groups are mixed ability. There is no L1 level class in years 6 and 7. However, motivated pupils with a good standard of English are able to take the Advanced L2 option.
At the end of cycle 3 students will be expected to have the reached the level of C1 on the CEF
Learning Support is available, in principle, for all students. Priority is often given to new students who have had no or little previous experience in the language. Support can be taken in various forms, from smaller groups to students being given individual tuition. Support is always structured based on the pedagogical needs of the student within the timetabling and budgetary constraints of the school. If you feel your child requires support at any time please do not hesitate to contact your child’s English teacher in the first instance. The school will then decide what action to take. If your child has a special educational need, this will be dealt with at the relevant level by the special educational needs team within the school, currently headed by Bea Meurs.
The L1 Level (Bilingual) Group
There are a significant number of pupils in the school who are either bilingual, or who use English extensively outside school, or who have been to an English-speaking school. These pupils may not need to follow a traditional foreign language course and in order to address their needs an L1 level group runs from S1 to S5 inclusive. Selection is not based on marks achieved in class, but rather on an individual linguistic profile based on the class teacher’s observations and evaluation. This might include having an Anglophone parent, being educated in an English speaking school, and/or following much of their education in the English language etc. There may be other reasons why selection is appropriate. We must emphasise that even if a student has most or all of the criteria we look for, they still need to have the requisite level of English and show evidence of willingness to engage with the challenges of an L1 level course. In this way we choose pupils for whom an L1 style of teaching is more appropriate to their needs. Grades obtained in a standard class are not necessarily an indication that a pupil should go to the L1 level class.
Before the beginning of the school year a teacher is appointed for each year to put together the L2 classes. New groups are created in S1, S2, S4 and S6. This is an enormous task, as there are years where there are in excess of 170 pupils, necessitating 8 groups. The teacher in charge of this does everything to ensure that classes are well balanced and that pupils’ individual needs are catered for, such as Learning Support, bilingualism, etc. A great deal of work and consultation with colleagues is involved in reaching this professional decision, therefore changes will not be made in September, unless for very strong pedagogical reasons.
From time to time the teacher concerned does not have all the necessary data to make the right decision. Therefore if for any reason you feel that your child is not in the correct group, please contact your child’s English teacher as soon as possible.
Please do not contact the educational counsellor, since their role is to implement educational decisions taken either by teachers or by the school management.