Here at Leysin American School, 75% of our students speak a language other than English at home. With our community’s extensive range of nationalities and languages, we feel that celebrating Mother Language Day (which this year was Tuesday, February 23) allows our students to feel represented and proud of their cultures. This day celebrates multiculturalism and diversity and can be an excellent tool for learning and affirming students’ cultural identities.
At LAS, we encourage students to develop into multilingual citizens of the world, and we believe in the importance of additive multilingual education, a practice that develops a student’s first and second languages simultaneously. We maintain this through enriching curriculums such as our English Language Acquisition (ELA) program, by encouraging students to consume various books and films in different languages, visiting countries on experiential cultural trips, and mixing languages and nationalities when assigning roommates.
Multilingualism is also encouraged at LAS in our library, where we stock books in many languages, including over 400 French books, over 200 Chinese books, 50 Polish books, and nearly 200 Japanese books, just to name a few. And all this is in addition to the nearly 1,000 ELA books that we have in our two campus libraries. Reading is a vital element of language learning, and so having a wide range of reading materials ensures that students progress in whichever language they study. It’s so important that students learn and stay connected with their mother language and that they feel supported when learning a new one.
At LAS, we offer the ELA program, a curriculum designed to help multilingual students succeed in their preparation for university. The program has a dual focus on developing students’ academic and social language in reading, writing, speaking, and listening, as well as their content knowledge in all academic subjects. While learning English remains an important goal for LAS students as the global language, LAS aims to support students’ continued development of their mother languages, known as additive multilingualism.
In the ELA program, students acquire English through meaningful content, learning the language through studying other subjects such as history, art, math, and science. In addition to this course’s academic side, students learn through meaningful and enriching social interactions in their daily lives in the dorms and through activities and trips. LAS aims to develop multilingual students’ English proficiency to native-like levels while valuing and embracing students’ mother languages, continuously enriching our diverse international community.
It’s no coincidence that after leaving Leysin, students often reflect that the highlight of their LAS experience was meeting people from all over the world and sharing cultures and languages. We feel immensely proud to represent and celebrate so many nationalities, and we are always excited to see our students progressing, whether that’s in English or the range of languages we offer as part of our curriculum.