Bilingual Literacy and Oracy
By Marie Anne Rismann
Head of Languages
In our globalized, interconnected world, the importance of being bilingual cannot be overstated; it is essential for communication, understanding other cultures and the development of global citizenship values. Knowledge and use of other languages has been linked to both personal and cognitive benefits, not least metalinguistic awareness. In the Languages Department at Branksome Hall Asia, we are very aware of this and the need to help our girls develop their language skills particularly as proficiency in English is generally equated with greater academic success.
This academic year, our school is focusing on further developing student’s writing skills whilst at the same time consolidating their oracy. I would like to share with you two examples of how we have contributed to achieving these goals in the Languages Department. First, Ms Lewis has been conducting Writer’s Workshops in her Language and Literature classes. In consultant workshops, writers receive advice, praise and/or criticism on ways to enhance a piece of writing. This is a wonderful opportunity to develop student agency. It also provides an opportunity for the girls to feel heard and responded to, and to become aware of what they are doing well and what could be improved.
In Language Acquisition, Ms. Pichay has also been working towards strengthening students’ writing and oracy with a project called "Out of the Box, Into the World" where the students had to ask faculty and staff who are bilingual about their language learning experiences. This project also provides the opportunity for students to practice both their writing and oral skills as they have to prepare questions for their interview and then produce an article with the different responses.
We are confident that activities such as these which develop both bilingual language and literacy skills add definite academic and educational value to our program whilst at the same time enhancing student creativity, adjustment in society and appreciation of their own language.