“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart” - Nelson Mandela

In the global community of the modern world, communication is essential and knowledge of a second or even third language is an increasingly integral piece of a successful academic and professional career.

At the British International School of Washington, our school language program is supported by a committed modern foreign language team. They are experienced second language teachers and learners who have all lived in the countries of the languages they teach.

With over 60 nationalities represented at BISW, your child will belong to a diverse community where our melting pot of mother tongue languages is embraced.

Formal Language Learning

Students are introduced to Spanish through songs and games in Nursery and Reception. Beginning in Year 1 students have a lesson(s) each week with a specialist teacher in Spanish.

For the 2020-21 academic year students who already have experience in French may choose that language instead of Spanish in Year 5 and above. For the 2021-22 academic year students who already have experience in French may choose that language instead of Spanish in Year 6 and above.

We teach and assess students in speaking, reading, writing and listening, with a focus in the early stages on their oral skills.

Other languages may be available for study in the IGCSE Curriculum (Years 10-11) and the IB Diploma Programme (Years 12-13) also study Spanish or French (if they already have previous coursework in French). Students and parents interested in a language options besides Spanish may work with an external tutor. There is an additional cost for external language tutors, but BISW will provide the space and time in their timetable for those lessons. We currently have students studying Italian, Dutch, German, Arabic, Chinese, and more in this manner.

In the Hallways

From Dutch, Italian, and Spanish to Malay, Arabic, and Mandarin, our students represent over 15 different modern languages.

After School

Where possible, we support other languages through our after school activities program.  We inspire our students to flourish in second language learning and allow them various outlets to express their interest and enthusiasm.

English as an Additional Language

For those students whose first language is not English, we have specialized staff offering additional support.

Students with English as an additional language are assessed by our EAL staff to identify the areas for support needed to access the curriculum.

Our students are immersed in English constantly, but for added support they might receive continued support, with either one-to-one or small group support during modern language lessons.  There are also academic vocabulary classes for students in the Secondary School.

Your child will be immersed in the language, with additional support where necessary, and you will be able to see them making visible regular progress.

Students will become proficient in English and will be supported to achieve in all areas of the curriculum.  This will be through a range of group and individual activities.  It sets out a path to success, and students who study English as an additional language here will be able to achieve an internationally recognized qualification in English as an additional language.