Nord Anglia Education
WRITTEN BY
Nord Anglia
21 June, 2022

Academic English proficiency - the key to success in international curricula

Receiving offers from top universities worldwide is a big dream for many students and one of the most important factors which makes an outstanding university application is the student’s results in their international examinations.

Being fully aware of the challenges that Vietnamese students might face when following international curricula such as IGCSEs and A Levels, BVIS HCMC aims to help them improve their academic English skills throughout each of the 3 Key Stages. 

When studying in a 2nd language, students often have difficulty in accessing the subject content and applying it effectively. Thus, improving their academic English is a must and should be started on as soon as possible. In addition to comprehensively covering the four language skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing), the focus on academic English helps students develop other important skills such as research, analysis, evaluation, critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork. 
Excellence in academic English is a great foundation for students to confidently study and thrive within the international secondary environment at BVIS in which almost 100% of their lessons are delivered in English. The academic English development program has been specifically designed for students from Year 7 and is divided into 3 stages: 

KEY STAGE 3 (YEAR 7, 8 AND 9)

During this stage, we focus on English Additional Learning (EAL) through Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in Humanities (History and Geography) and English Literature to help students develop their language skills in the context of their core subjects. This is something that our students have found to help enable them to access the course materials more easily in not just Humanities and English, but in other subjects too.

Our Key Stage 3 students have 5 English lessons and 3 Humanities lessons per week in into which additional language work has been incorporated through joint planning with EAL, English and Humanities teachers. This structure helps to effectively develop a student’s academic and subject-based vocabulary and improve both their grammatical range and accuracy whilst simultaneously learning English Literature, History and Geography. 

The CLIL approach also focuses on a greater collaboration between EAL and subject teachers which allows them to track students’ progress and plan individualised materials for them. BVIS Secondary also provides and develops a culture of English communication both in classrooms and outside. In addition, highly effective online vocabulary applications, notably Bedrock Vocabulary and First News iHub are used throughout Key Stage 3 to further develop students’ range of academic English. Bedrock  Grammar has also recently been introduced and can help students improve both their range and accuracy.  Bedrock is also used in Key Stage 4 (Years 10 and 11) and with Year 12 students who study Academic English.

KEY STAGE 4: YEARS 10 – YEAR 11

Together with their chosen subjects within the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) curriculum provided by CAIE, our students will follow one of the three English courses below. The course they study is based upon their personal learning ability and teacher assessment with the main aim being achieving success in their IGCSE English exams.

  1. Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English + Cambridge IGCSE English as a First Language
  2. Cambridge IGCSE Literature in English + Cambridge IGCSE English as a Second Language
  3. Cambridge IGCSE English as a Second Language

Thien Dang, a BVIS alumni who successfully achieved a scholarship which was worth $64,000 for Computer Science at Massachusetts Amherst University. Whilst studying at BVIS, he received the certificate for highest IGCSE Math Result from Cambridge Education Board in June 2019 and said, “The biggest barrier was language after I was admitted to BVIS in 2017. My English skills back then were not good while the whole course and activities were being delivered in English. Thanks to the support from staff and friends, I could improve much more. Having better English skills is also an element which helped me achieved the highest IGCSE results in 2019.” 

KEY STAGE 5: YEARS 12- YEAR 13

Those students studying 3 AS Level courses in Year 12, study academic English as their 4th subject. This is delivered through the IELTS format which allows students to further build their range of academic vocabulary, improve their grammatical range and accuracy and work on all 4 skills. In addition, it helps prepare them for international language assessments in particular the IELTS test which will help them when applying for university. It also provides them with the ability to construct well-written essays that will be expected of them in further education.

Mr. Jonathan Routledge, our EAL teacher with over 19 years working as a language teacher for Vietnamese students said,” The IELTS curriculum helps our students practice their analysis, critical thinking and in-depth writing skills in academic English. These play an important role in helping them prepare university applications and will give them greater opportunities to be accepted by top universities worldwide.”

Every year, our students achieve outstanding IGCSE & A Level results and receive offers from the top universities around the world, including in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Vietnam.

We believe that a strong academic English foundation will help our students identify their study paths, achieve their personal goals, confidently overcome each milestone and in turn study at leading universities all over the world.