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Language Policy

Harding High School’s Language Policy

Created by Erik Brandt, DPC, and Shandyn Benson, MYPC - 2015

Revised March – May 2020 – Daniel Weyandt, CPC; Be Vang, Principal; Jeff Rissman, Assistant Principal (MYP/CP); Patrick Coyne, Assistant Principal (DP)

Harding High School’s Mission

We, the community of Harding Senior High School, are committed to developing and challenging our students by: 

  • preparing each individual for life,
  • creating active, inquiring, compassionate and knowledgeablelife-long learners,
  • shaping a better and more peaceful world through a sense ofinternational-mindedness,
  • welcoming and respecting all cultures, beliefs, opinions anddifferences, and
  • fostering personal growth, self-respect and a positive school climate.

Harding is a world-class comprehensive International Baccalaureate school where we value earning a diploma and guiding students toward a post-secondary pathway. Whether it is academics or work, Harding prides itself on preparing students for their futures.

Language Policy

 Since language is the foundation for all learning, all teachers at Harding High are considered language teachers. 

 Language learning refers not only to the acquisition of additional languages, but an understanding of another culture.  We believe that the study of languages allows people to gain understanding of and respect for other cultures.  A teacher’s role in the classroom is not only to facilitate growth and proficiency in another language, but to open students’ minds to the interconnectedness of other cultures. 

 We believe in the importance of and respecting students’ home languages as much as we are able.  Confidence and competence in a student’s home language enables a student to acquire an additional language more readily.  Additionally, Harding’s students represent a tapestry of cultures and we are proud of this and want our students to be proud of who they are, where they came from and the diversity that surrounds them.

 In recent years, at least 40% of Harding students have been identified as “Limited English Proficiency.” Within our building we provide English learning supports—inside our English Language Development (ELD) classes as well as in our Reading, Writing and Math Support courses.  A significant proportion of our EL students take co-taught classes in Science, English, History, and Math, where the classes have a subject-specific teacher as well as an EL teacher, and the student population is a mixture of native and non-native English speakers.  While there are intensive supports in the above-mentioned classes, all Harding classes provide scaffolding for EL students and much of the in-building Professional Development centers around building language instruction teacher capacity.  Over the last decade, Harding’s teaching staff has had consistent training on scaffolding instructional practices so that all of our students can work in their Zones of Proximal Development.  Additionally, there has been a District-wide focus on EL teaching strategies and two years of professional development for all educators.

 We have found that many Harding EL students have been able to take IB DP classes and be successful at them.  After a decade of work, we are proud to also be one of the only schools in the USA offering English B, which has increased access to the DP for students who traditionally have never been able to participate in the program.

 We additionally have the supports in place for students who wish to pursue the bilingual diploma, or pursue two Studies in Language and Literature subjects.  In recent years we have had students study both English and Spanish, as well as English and Chinese as Language A subjects, and we have had a number of Diploma Candidates pursue multiple Language B subjects. 

Language of Instruction

 Our school endeavors to accommodate students’ varying language ability levels, while acknowledging that in the United States, English is the language of power, commerce and general communication.  It is our hope that all students leave Harding competent in this nation’s dominant language—and, most importantly, literate in at least one additional language.  To that end, all Harding classes are conducted in English, our Language A.

  • That said, many of our French, Spanish, Japanese, Hmong, Lakota, Dakota, and Ojibwe language classes are taught in “immersion” environments, in which the teachers use very little English.

Additional Language Study

Students in grades 9 – 12 are expected to take at least 2 years of language acquisition.  All counselors and teachers encourage students to take 4 years—ideally of the same language.  Most American colleges desire their incoming students to have at least 4 years of study in an additional language.

Students may study a Language Acquisition course at Harding in the following languages:

  • English B
  • French B
  • Japanese B
  • Spanish B

 Harding also offers Hmong, Lakota/Dakota and Ojibwe, though none of these are approved as official IB DP Language B yet.  Students may apply to study them as a Language A course if they’d like.

In each of these language courses, students learn to communicate in both oral and written forms.  They also work on mastering reading texts and perfecting language skills.

Students may study English, French, Japanese and Spanish as an SL, HL or ab initio subject.  To take HL Language B, a student must be able to join a 2nd or 3rd year language course in 9th grade.  SL is possible after three or four years of study.  Ab initio is possible after 2 years (French or Spanish) or 3 years (Japanese), and is reserved for IB Diploma Candidates, or other students at a teacher’s discretion.

Erik Brandt

IB DP Coordinator – Harding High