British-based Learning with an International Perspective


Tanglin's Philosophy and Approach for the Teaching and Learning of Modern Foreign Languages

At Tanglin, we value language learning and recognise the increasing relevance of modern foreign languages (MFL) given the economic rise of the East and the increased mobility of tomorrow’s global citizens. Our aim is to develop languages through carefully planned programmes for all students from Nursery to Year 11, with options to continue through to Year 13.

Our guiding principles are to encourage a love of languages and an appreciation of cultures, as well as to equip our students with essential language learning skills which will form a strong platform for fluency and further study if appropriate. Language lessons must be of a high standard and be delivered in the same motivating and inclusive way as all other lessons if they are to be successful. Children should look forward to their language lessons and take pride in their increasing abilities to communicate in another tongue.

Language learning at Tanglin is characterised by active learning in stimulating and supportive classroom environments. Lessons are led by well qualified, experienced language teachers, supported by fluent teacher assistants in the Infant and Junior Schools.

Languages in the Senior School

In the Senior School, our core Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) are Chinese (Mandarin); French and Spanish. Students choose two languages from Chinese (Mandarin), French and Spanish to study in Year 7 and 8. In Year 9, they are asked to select one of these languages, which they will continue through to GCSE level.

In the Sixth Form, our core languages are available as options in both the A Levels and IB pathways. The IB pathway also offers the option of a bilingual diploma for those who are already fluent in a language other than English, as well as the option for students to study a language that they have not studied before 'ab initio'.

Support for Mother Tongue Languages in the Senior School

Tanglin celebrates the diversity and richness of the many cultures that make up our vibrant community. In order to support the needs of all our students, we have launched an exciting mother-tongue programme that will support the linguistic development of students who come from multi-lingual families.

As an international school, we believe that it is essential to provide assistance to and raise the profile of those students who speak a non-English language at home on a regular basis. Indeed, although research is still in its early days, additive bilingualism has been shown in recent studies to have a startling range of benefits for the brain, in addition to all the hugely important familial, social and communicative advantages it brings. We recognise that the need to keep in touch with one's cultural roots is especially important in an expatriate environment.

Specifically, within the context of the Senior School, we are driven by the proven fact that "continued use of the mother-tongue into adolescence is an essential determinant of children’s long-term proficiency."*

Consequently, we have recently set up a two-tiered Mother-tongue programme:

For core languages (French/Mandarin/Spanish), we support students who speak these languages by offering them time within the curriculum to pursue mother-tongue language lessons with paid tutors. Currently, we have such classes in all three languages in various year groups (dependent on numbers).

For non-core languages, we have set up weekly after-school or lunchtime classes for Dutch, Danish, Greek, Hindi, Italian and Japanese. Some teachers are voluntary parents, others are paid tutors.

* p26, Mother Tongue-Based Bilingual or Multilingual Education in the Early Years, Jessica Ball, University of Victoria (commissioned by UNESCO)