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English as a Second Languageesl

Brent International School Baguio offers specialist programs for non-native English speakers. Many of these students come from all over Asia, but our student body reflects our broad, international character. The main goal is to ensure that students learn to speak, read, and write English clearly, allowing them to participate in the IB program. Upon admission, students in the ESL Program are classified into four (4) groups – Beginners, Low and High Intermediate, Advanced, and Support. Beginners are accepted only in to Pre-Kinder through Grade 5. At a Grade 9 level, only High Intermediate students are accepted. At a Grade 10 level, only Advanced and Support level students are accepted. Advanced and Support group students receive in-class assistance from teachers assigned to them. Regular assessment allows students to be mainstreamed into the normal program as progress is made. It is expected that students are capable of being mainstreamed within 2-3 years of entering the ESL program. To move up an ESL level, performance and progress in all of the following are considered: ESL standardized tests, ESL class performance, Mainstream class requirements and recommendation from teachers. Students may only move up a level at the beginning of the semester. The ESL Program is housed in its own building with computer facilities, and class sizes are normally and intentionally kept low. Entrance to the ESL Program follows testing and personal interviews with the Guidance Counselor, Principals, and Deputy Head. Further details can be obtained from the ESL Department Head or the Director for Academic Affairs.



GRADE LEVELS 2 to 3 4 to 5 6 to 8 9 to 10 FEES
Level 1 Level 1 none none $1,000.00
Levels 2 – 3 Levels 2 – 3 Levels 2 – 3 Levels 2 – 3 $500.00
Level 4 Level 4 Level 4 Level 4 $250.00
support support $-

Goals and Objectives

Brent International School Baguio offers the ESL (English as Second Language) Program to non-native speakers of English whose English Language competency is insufficient for them to be successful in the regular academic program. The main objective of the program is to prepare ESL students for entry into the standard level of Brent’s regular academic program. The program aims to achieve a high level of English proficiency in the students and to develop the confidence that will enable them to have access to instruction in the mainstream, as well as to participate fully in the life of the school.

Five (5) Levels of Proficieny

The ESL Support Program adapted TESOL’s five levels of language proficiency:

Level 1- Starting (Beginners)

At L1, students initially have limited or no understanding of English. They rarely use English for communication. They respond nonverbally to simple commands, statements, and questions. As their oral comprehension increases, they begin to imitate the verbalizations of others by using single words or simple phrases, and they begin to use English spontaneously.

At the earliest stage, these learners construct meaning from text primarily through illustrations, graphs, maps, and tables.

Level 2- Emerging (Low Intermediate)

At L2, students can understand phrases and short sentences. They can communicate limited information in simple everyday and routine situations by using memorized phrases and group of words. They can use selected simple structures correctly but still systematically produce basic errors. Students begin to use general academic vocabulary and familiar everyday expressions. Errors in writing are present that often hinder communication.

Level 3- Developing (High Intermediate)

At L3, students understand more complex speech but still may require some repetition. They use English spontaneously but may have difficulty expressing all their thoughts due to a restricted vocabulary and a limited command of language structure. Students at this level speak in simple sentences, which are comprehensible and appropriate, but which are frequently marked by grammatical errors that may impede clear communication and expression but retain much of its meaning or intent. Proficiency in reading may vary considerably. Students are most successful constructing meaning from texts for which they have background knowledge upon which to build, including dependency on L1 for meaning and vocabulary.

Level 4- Expanding (Advanced)

At L4, students’ language skills are adequate for most day-to-day communication needs. They communicate in English in new or unfamiliar settings but have occasional difficulty with complex structures and abstract academic concepts.

Students at this level may read with considerable fluency and are able to locate and identify the specific facts within the text. However, they may not understand texts in which the concepts are presented in a decontextualized manner, the sentence structure is complex, or the vocabulary is abstract or has multiple meanings. They can read independently but may have occasional comprehension problems, especially when processing grade-level information. They may still need L1 translation for complex vocabulary words. Some grammatical errors are present in written and oral language, which occasionally impede the overall meaning of the communication.

Level 5- Bridging (Support)

At L5, students’ language skills are familiar and able to function in day-to-day communication needs. They communicate in English in new or unfamiliar settings and have minimal difficulty with complex structures and abstract academic concepts.

Students at this level may read with more strategies (context clues, etc) to locate and identify the specific facts within the text and therefore employ strategies to understand texts in which the concepts are presented in a decontextualized manner, the sentence structure is complex, or the vocabulary is abstract or has multiple meanings. They can read independently and can show better comprehension than advanced level students. However, they may still need L1 translation for difficult and academic words. Oral or written language produced is marked with occasional errors that rarely or do not impede the overall meaning of the communication. These errors are generally corrected when they occur.

Program Components

  1. English Language Development Component: ESL students shall receive instruction in an Integrated Language Skills course, incorporating the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing at all levels.
  2. Content Area Component: ESL students shall also receive instruction in the content areas of social science and literature.
  3. Social Communication Skills: Communicative competence–based language instruction shall be provided to facilitate acquisition of social communication skills and competence.

Admission, Placement and Required Levels of English Proficiency

For admission purposes, a battery of tests is given.  The Maculaitis Assessment of Competencies (MAC II) is one of the tests administered to students.  The MAC II is a comprehensive assessment of English language proficiency, appropriate for non-native speakers of English.  It assesses proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing.  Other reading, speaking, writing, and listening admission tests have been put in place to ensure proper leveling.  All these tests are used to help decide whether a student will be partially or fully mainstreamed.

Upon Admission, students in the ESL program are classified into five groups– (Level 1) Beginners, (Level 2) Low Intermediate, (Level 3) High Intermediate, and (Level 4) Advanced and (Level 5) Support.  Regular assessment allows students to be mainstreamed into the normal program as progress is made. Detailed information is stipulated under “GUIDELINES FOR MAINSTREAMING AND CHANGING ESL LEVELS.

Briefly, beginners are accepted in Grades 3-5. Low Intermediate level students may be admitted at Grade 6; however, the High Intermediate level is the lowest level that is accepted in Grades 7 and 8.  At Grades 9 and 10, only Advanced and Support level students are accepted. If a student enters in the second semester of Grade 10, the student must be at the Support level. Assessment and progress monitoring are administered during the last month of each semester to determine if a student has moved a level up or not.

1. Lower School (Grades 1-5)-There is no minimum level of proficiency in English required. The course consists of listening, speaking, reading, and writing while focusing on cognitive academic language learning which incorporates language learning within content area instruction.

2. Middle School (Grades 6–8)-Level 1 applicants are not accepted in Middle School. By Grade 7, a student must demonstrate at least a high-intermediate level or Level 3.  Also, students entering Grade 8 must demonstrate at least a high intermediate for the first semester to enter Level 3 and an advanced skill level in order to enter Level 4 for the second semester.

Level of Competence Assigned to Middle School ESL students

  • ESL 2 (only for Grade 6) is a low–intermediate level assigned to students with basic communication skills but who are lacking in academic language. ESL 2 students attend mainstream mathematics, computer, science, P.E., art and music classes.
  • ESL 3 is a high intermediate level assigned to students whose basic communication skills are good. The course focuses on developing their academic skills. They are assigned to homerooms in the mainstream and attend mathematics, computer, science, P.E., art and music classes with their mainstream peers.
  • ESL 4 is for advanced ESL students. Emphasis is on polishing the student’s academic and presentation skills. They attend all subjects in their respective grade levels with the exception of English and another modern language. Some recommendations may be made by the English and ESL teacher whereby an ESL 4 student is allowed in an English mainstream subject.

3. Upper School- Grades 9-12– It is generally difficult to gain admittance to the Upper School if a student is a low or high-intermediate English language learner. Exceptions or considerations are rarely given. The following transition program will assure students of a gradual integration into the mainstream curriculum. A Support Class is offered to students who are in Levels 4 and 5. This class helps students cope with requirements of their regular subjects.

At the beginning of Grade 9, students must be at the Advanced level.

New students may only be admitted to Grade 10 in the middle of the school year, if they are tested to be at the Support level with Advanced scores in the Reading and Writing sections of the MAC II test.

At the end of Grade 10, students must exit ESL (Mainstream Level) if they wish to continue on to Grade 11.  Exceptions to the rule need to be discussed with Administration. 


ESL 4 is for the advanced and support students. Emphasis is on polishing the students academic and presentation skills. They attend all subjects in their respective grade levels with the exception of their Language subject.

Subjects Offered: 

ESL 4 Language
English B (mainstream)
Social Science (mainstream)
Science (mainstream) Biology / Chemistry / Physics
Math (mainstream)
P.E. (mainstream)
Music / Art (mainstream)
Computer / Religious Studies (mainstream)

Language Caps

At any time during the year, language caps may be imposed on a grade level once the constituency of a grade level has reached a 40% level of ESL/LSS enrollees. Student applicants may be placed on a waiting list.

Assessment Schedule

Regular assessment ensures students are given ample opportunity to exhibit their progress through the English Language Support Program.  Standardized ESL tests are scheduled as follows:

  • MAC II and other tests–      Admissions & End November
  • Mid Year Exams–   December
  • MAC II Exit exams + Final Exams–  April and May

Guidelines for Mainstreaming and Changing ESL Levels

To move up an ESL Level, performance and progress in ALL of the following are considered:


  • ESL standardized tests (MAC II Test)
  • ESL classes
  • Mainstream classes

à Recommendations from teachers (Mainstream Teacher Report and ESL level conferences with ESL Language teachers)

  • MAP Results in Reading and Language
  • Lower School PM Reading Level Results
  • LS Spelling and Writing Diagnostic Test Results


Students may only move up a level at the beginning of a semester.

Subject Load from Lower - Upper School

There are mainstream subjects that ESL students are pulled out from, depending on their levels. They are given the corresponding parallel subjects/language specialized subjects. Please note that English B in grades 9 and 10 are mainstream subjects:

ESL Level Subjects
2, 3
1, 2, 3 ESL Language Arts
4, 5
1, 2, 3 ESL Language Arts
2, 3 ESL SS*, ESL English
6*if available
4, S English 6 (Mainstream)
3, 4 ESL Lang, ESL SS*, ESL
English 7* (level 4 may join the ESL class as recommended by
4, S ESL Lang, ESL SS*, English
7 (Mainstream)*if available
3 ESL Lang, ESL SS*, ESL Engl
8*if available
4, S ESL Lang, ESL SS*, Engl
8*if available
4, S ESL Lang, English Lang and
Lit (English B)
4 Korean, English Lang and
Lit  (English B)
S Korean, English Lang and
Lit (English B)

BISB Language Policy


The Brent International School Baguio (BISB) Language Policy states our philosophy on language learning and teaching as well as our core beliefs on how we view language and its use in our school community.

General Guidelines:

Brent International School Baguio values the cultures of our student body, promotes self-esteem and respect for countries of origin, and recognizes the contributions each can make in our diverse community.

BISB believes that diversity in language is a positive aspect of our school community and that students should be encouraged to value and explore their native language. Mother-tongue usage is important to each student’s cultural identity and in establishing a foundation for linguistic understanding upon which second language learning can take place.

BISB believes it is important to make every student proficient in at least two languages, and encourage each student to reach the highest possible level of literacy in both. We believe that language is central to the development of global mindedness, allowing students to access a variety of experiences. Language acquisition should aim towards additive bilingualism: the second language learned shall be in addition to, and not replacing, the first language.

English is the common language of our school community and it must be spoken on campus as a matter of courtesy, empathy and respect.

Language Use in Classrooms and School Activities

(Applies to all classrooms with the exception of Modern Language classes and specific language clubs and activities)

English is the language of instruction and the medium for the delivery of the BISB curriculum. Other languages may be used for various purposes in the classroom and during instructional activities. However it must be remembered that gaining proficiency in English is a priority, one that allows students to perform to the best of their ability in accessing the Brent curriculum.

The use of another language other than English to aid classroom instruction or instructional activities should require above all the teacher’s permission for a student to do so and should be guided by the following guidelines:

  1. On occasion, it may be helpful for student understanding to talk through unfamiliar concepts in a student’s first language before learning the vocabulary necessary to communicate about these concepts in English. If this is needed, the teacher may initiate this with the students or allow a request by a student to do so. The teacher must first expressly allow a student to use another language before it may be spoken in the classroom. If a student speaks a language other than English, a warning should be given in the first instance and an Orange Slip issued for any subsequent instances.
  2. When whole class discussions or mixed language group discussions are taking place English must be used in order to ensure understanding by all participants and to avoid the exclusion of some group members. If a student speaks a language other than English, a warning should be given in the first instance and an Orange Slip issued for any subsequent instances.
  3. Teachers should consider language use in their planning and instruction to facilitate student understanding in the language and the concepts embedded in the curriculum.

Outside the classroom, including recess time, on the playground, in breaks between classes and after school and weekend activities:

  1. Any language may be spoken in these situations as long as the volume is confined to the circle of students/parents who speak the same language and provided that the conversation does not exclude someone within hearing distance due to the use of an unfamiliar language. If a situation of this latter kind arises, a warning should be given in the first instance and an Orange Slip issued for any subsequent instances.


At BISB, all teachers value language and are language teachers, and must be capable of native-like fluency in reading, writing, listening and speaking in their language of instruction. In addition, language teaching at BISB will follow the unified curriculum being developed for all Brent campuses. Assessment of language learning will follow guidelines from the Student-Parent Handbook and Faculty Manual (both are reviewed and revised annually).

Special Assistance:

To achieve bilingualism for non-native English speakers, a special help program will exist to assist learners with English, the “lingua franca” of our community. BISB will have an accurate idea at the outset of the language profile of each student through testing and interviews that take place as part of the school’s admissions process. Extraction from ESL classes will be followed by integration into mainstream classes with accurate assessment of the students’ progress. In some cases, BISB recommends tutorial help to assist in the maintenance of the Mother Tongue, if this is not formally taught at BISB. Subsequently, the IB Diploma Program provides the same support for students studying self-taught languages.

General Language Instruction

In addition to providing language assistance for low achievers, BISB will provide instruction for all learners by using several methods. Teachers will connect language use with the ‘real world’, and by stimulating multiple senses, rather than by simply explaining words by using other words. Also, teachers will use age-appropriate vocabulary, taking into account the varying stages reached by all class members, and they will lead students to grasp not only the primary meanings of words, but also the secondary meanings, so students build an appreciation for nuances in language. A universal look at language will be stressed to avoid confusion. BISB teachers will use the following strategies:

  1. Discourage slang or jargon in writing, aiming instead for universally understood simplicity and clarity, especially with younger students. For example, some usage typical of a text message, blog or instant message is entirely out of place in a scholarly essay or formal letter.
  2. Avoid circumlocutions and verbosity in communications.
  3. Reach an understanding that language is a remarkably rich and complex phenomenon, and it can include the non-spoken and non-written.
  4. Appreciate the differences between descriptive and persuasive use of language, avoiding misleading terms in the latter.
  5. Understand that the form of language used will vary with the nature of the intended audience.
  6. Realize that some language is offensive on religious, racial or cultural grounds, and to seek terms that promote harmony, tolerance, co-operation and understanding between peoples.
  7. Eliminate emotive or abusive language, using balanced and well-thought-out terms instead.
  8. Comprehend the subtleties of metaphor and irony, without confusing the latter with sarcasm.
  9. See through the misuse of language in propaganda and certain advertising, by thinking critically about the sources and deeper meaning of language they encounter.
  10. Accept that every language has non-translatable special words which contribute to the richness of that language.
  11. Grasp the meanings of idioms.
  12. Encourage interpretation skills to achieve accuracy, while recognizing that something is lost in many literal translations.
  13. Promote confident public speaking and debate.
  14. Understand that language and culture are reciprocally connected.
  15. Introduce cursive handwriting in Grade 3 onward, but other forms of handwriting are acceptable provided there is clarity and legibility.
  16. Recognize the links between language, experience and identity.
  17. Appreciate the beauty of language as used in poetry, fiction and song.
  18. Avoid cultural stereotyping and prejudice, but to instead use language in a fair, balanced and individualized way that is evidence-based.


The Language Policy of BISB agrees with the Mission Statement of Brent Schools, Brent ESLRs as published school-wide, the Mission Statement of the International Baccalaureate Organization and the International Baccalaureate Language Policy.