A Multilingual Essential School Develops Language by Crossing Boundaries

All 350 students at the International High School in Long Island City, New York are recent immigrants with very limited English, but the rich and coherent interdisciplinary curriculum they follow here treats this multilingual population as an asset, not a drawback. In heterogeneous groups, taking interdisciplinary courses organized around themes such as “Motion” and “Origins,” students maintain and develop proficiency in their native language while they acquire near-fluency in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing English.

“Language skills are most effectively learned in the context of meaningful activities,” says principal Eric Nadelstern, pointing out as well that fluency in a language other than English is a resource for the student, the school, and an increasingly interdependent society. International students play out these principles by taking on content-area projects in small groups, where no student lacks the support of a peer who speaks the same language. They create written texts and presentations in both their native language and English. They venture into community-based internships where they can practice their growing bilingualism and realize its value in their lives. And because International shares a campus with LaGuardia Community College, most of them take at least one college course by the time they graduate, further bridging the transition to a successful future.

To learn more about International High School, write Eric Nadelstern, Principal, 31-10 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101, or phone     718-482-5455  718-482-5455     718-482-5455  718-482-5455 .