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Montgomery International School Brussels: Quality English and French primary for multicultural children
The independent French and English Montgomery International School offers high-quality education for pupils aged five to 18. It has full International Baccalaureate accreditation (IB – PYP – MYP – DP). Located in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, the school welcomes children from more than 40 different countries, with the majority having an anglophone background. The primary section provides bilingual education (French/English) from Grades 1 to 5, after which pupils have the choice of continuing with either the bilingual or anglophone programme.
Three members of staff from the primary section outline the curriculum and explain how they encourage each child to gain confidence and skill in English and French.
Kaelyn - primary teacher
We truly believe that students best learn when it is centered around them, their interests, needs and unique personalities. We take this into consideration when planning our units of inquiry, lessons, and assessments. We like to teach in a variety of ways including using manipulatives, doing experiments and art, and allowing students to use their creativity and imagination. Having a class of maximum 15 students really allows us to meet the needs of our diverse students. They are able to take ownership of different classroom jobs and roles and fully participate in the various learning activities. We use differentiation techniques in our teaching strategies and when assessing students. This is especially important as we have students with different language backgrounds. Often, we have students who speak little English or French. We strive to help these students feel comfortable and confident, and grow in their English language skills. One way we do this is by offering an English support class that is meant to support students directly at their level in a comforting environment. Weekly, they practice the basics of speaking, listening, reading, and writing in English in this small-group setting with peers at a similar level. In the mainstream classroom, we also use stories, pictures, songs, and other hands-on activities to help our students have positive experiences and gain confidence in English.
In French and English, PYP 3 students will learn all about different types of poetry. This unit is about using poetry to express themselves and the world around them. Students create a poetry book with poems from both languages as well as their native language. They will also share their own writings with other students in the school. This helps build their confidence and be able to share what they are learning with others.
During a unit on multiplication and division, students designed games to practice their facts in a hands-on and creative way. They shared their games with other classmates and were able to play together. In the PYP program, approaches to learning are a central part of the lessons and learning process. Students are constantly developing their social, communication, self-management, research and thinking skills. Designing games gave students an opportunity to develop some of these skills in a fun and engaging way while practicing multiplication and division.
PYP 3 students have been learning about the body and ways to be healthy. To put their learning into action, the students created posters to hang around the school to encourage others to be healthy too. Students selected a topic they felt was important and interesting. They then used the internet to research about their topic to learn more information and facts. After, they created colourful posters showcasing their learning.
Margot – librarian
The school’s library is at the heart of the school. With its warm and colourful scenery, it’s a place where all our students love to spend their time, especially enjoying their weekly library class. Each PYP grade comes for an hour with our librarian to read, develop their creative and thinking skills through games, story-telling and arts and crafts, carried out in French and English. The students are encouraged to borrow books to continue reading at home, either by themselves or with their parents. Our collection of comics is very popular. This year, the students are rediscovering that reading can be fun by reading a ‘mystery book’ each month. The teachers and the librarian collaborate on the acquisition of our reading materials, in order to provide numerous opportunities for students to learn and practice their research skills.
Dominique - primary teacher
We give importance to students transitioning from preschool to primary school. In PYP 1, we continue to learn new things through play and discovery. Students learn mathematical concepts and letter sounds for reading through multi-sensory activities. We further imprint theoretical science lessons into practice with weekly fun experiments. Students' creativity and agency are encouraged whenever possible and they can proudly bring home their work/craft to show their family. All of these different learnings are tied together using relevant and current topics in a transdisciplinary approach.
This year, the PYP 1 students will celebrate international mindedness by learning about Belgium. Brussels is the best example of multiculturalism and multilingualism. We will explore the culture of Belgium (food, famous landmarks, comics, languages, etc.) and reflect upon the students’ personal experiences living in Brussels. To feel even more part of this community, we will do an excursion to the comic museum or a famous landmark with a Belgian treat of waffles. As their big project, the PYP 1 students will recreate the rocket of Tintin and turn themselves into Smurfs artworks.
Montgomery International School - Ecole Internationale Montgomery
133 Rue du Duc, 1200 Brussels
02 733 63.23, [email protected]
Photos: Kaelyn (main image); Kaelyn, Margot and Dominique