English Learning at CCIS
Studies show that English language proficiency is the most important factor for a student’s future academic success in an American international school, for a successful university application and to be successful in the university environment. In recent years an alarming percentage of Chinese students have failed or been kicked out of universities abroad due to improper language and academic preparation. Too often students in China have relied only on a TOEFL or IELTS exam-centered approach to preparing for study abroad. Rather than being a shortcut to success, this route has been shown time and time again to be the quickest route to failure. At CCIS we take the development of English language proficiency very seriously, so we use several tools to measure language skills, track improvement of these skills and to develop these essential skills. The tools and courses in the CCIS program help students to build a solid foundation in English from which they can move into the exam preparation stage and then, finally, proceed to university entrance and university success.
- WIDA TEST: The CCIS Entrance Exam only measures students’ abilities at the beginning and intermediate levels, so we administer the WIDA Exam to all enrolled students to measure their development of English proficiency at CCIS. WIDA is the most widely used English proficiency exam in the world for K-12 students. It is currently used in thirty-nine U.S. states and territories.Along with millions of K-12 students in North America and around the world, students at CCIS take this exam one to two times a year to measure their skills in academic and social English.
The WIDA Exam covers social, instructional and subject language as shown in the graphic below.
The WIDA Exam has 6 levels. Level 1 (Entering) equates to Beginning English proficiency. Level 6 (Reaching) is the equivalent of native English proficiency.
- Vocabulary Program: The CCIS Vocabulary Program is focused on developing mastery of both general academic words as well as specific subject area vocabulary (e.g. Science, History, etc.) This vocabulary program consists of several parts and programs. The CCIS Entrance and WIDA Exams measure students’ general proficiency, so we will know the students general level of ability. This allows us to match students to appropriate classroom materials and place them in appropriate courses based on their demonstrated ability. To further diagnose their vocabulary skills, we use an international test to measure vocabulary size.Our vocabulary test was developed by one of the world’s major scholars in vocabulary teaching and learning. Our vocabulary test is used to measure both first language and second language learners’ vocabulary size in English. The score on this test indicates the appropriate levels of reading materials and vocabulary study. Our main vocabulary learning program at CCIS covers the 4000 most useful academic words. CCIS uses both online and textbook materials to help students gradually expand their vocabulary size. Students who have mastered this main program are placed on a separate, advanced, vocabulary track.To supplement the study of vocabulary in the academic subjects CCIS provides students with vocabulary lists they can review online, at school, at home, or on their phones and tablets while traveling from place to place.
- Reading Program: The CCIS Reading Program is also a multi-faceted program with several online and offline tools to build students’ reading comprehension ability and skill. Reading development begins with our classroom materials sourced from the top three American academic publishers. These materials are used throughout North America and around the world at leading international schools.
CCIS English courses use high-quality resources and follow research-based best practices. We supplement this core curriculum with additional online and library resources for classroom and individual study. For lower ability readers, we utilize two phonics programs with the textbook and online resources to help build students’ recognition of sounds, word roots, prefixes, and suffixes. We also offer reading resources that match students’ personal reading levels. These resources are available offline as well as in our online reading programs so that students can work independently to improve their reading skills. Improved reading also supports improved grammar, spelling and writing skills in addition to facilitating life-long learning.
Our main online reading system helps students develop both reading and vocabulary skills that are targeted at their individual level of proficiency. Through our two online reading platforms, students read stories and non-fiction texts at their specific Lexile level (a level that measures the difficulty of a reading text). Lexile levels are provided for all books published in North America. Thus, when students learn their Lexile levels, they are able to choose personal reading materials that are at or slightly above their current reading level, instead of mistakenly struggling to read, for example, classic texts, they are not yet prepared to read in a timely and successful manner.
Our main online reading program takes students from Kindergarten all the way through Grade 12 levels of reading difficulty. The readings also help students practice skills that are tested on the TOEFL iBT and other exams. Instructors facilitate this online reading program, so students can understand which skills they should improve. When students have progressed to the end of the main reading program CCIS transitions them to a more advanced program as well as providing additional university-level resources for individualized learning.
CCIS high school students also receive materials and instruction that are specifically developed to prepare them for the TOEFL, SAT and other university entrance related exams. This instruction will also be matched to the students’ appropriate level of proficiency in order to allow them to progress in the most efficient manner possible.
The CCIS program of thought-provoking courses, combined with systematic vocabulary and reading development programs, and backed up by world-class proficiency testing programs, will assure that students at CCIS are given the best chance at academic success during their years at our school. And most importantly, the courses, programs, and tools at CCIS will help students to develop the kind of skills and knowledge that will allow them to succeed not only on the TOEFL exam but, most importantly, to succeed in their academic studies in overseas universities.