English


Timetables

Pre-School (ages 2-3) - either morning or afternoon shift
4 years old and Kinder (5 years old) -morning and afternoon shifts
Primary School -(ages 6 to 11) - morning shift: English /afternoon shift: Spanish

General features

LESTER HOUSE Primary School is a bilingual (Spanish-English) private institution accredited by the Uruguayan Ministry of Education (Hab. No. 158). 

The English language is of primary importance in the school's academic programs. At the end of Primary level all students are expected to acquire a fluent command of English in both oral and written communication in any setting or situation.

The academic aim of the English language is to bring each student to the highest point of his/her potential. English – as a subject – is connected with the Spanish Official Syllabus and designed to give as wide a range of topics as possible, related to the realities of the outside world. Some aspects of history, geography or sciences that students learn in Spanish, are taught and assessed through English. Skills and concepts are integrated throughout the curriculum using a variety of methods and technologies. Many concepts and skills are reinforced and expanded from one grade level to the next.

At the end of 2nd, 4th and 6th Grades students are prepared to take an international examination corrected at the University of Cambridge, England. (Young Learners Examinations, KET and PET). Candidates get special tuition for the necessary entry-requirements. Sitting for these examinations is optional)

The study of the English language and the variety of subjects studied through English provide students with an integral education which stimulates and integrates intellectual and emotional growth.

Computing Classes – it is a structured course based on practical development of computing techniques. 

Art and Music classes are also available on the School curriculum. 

 

Primary school information

Instructional Approach
Teachers use a variety of approaches to teaching and learning in order to meet the wide range of student needs within a classroom. The subject areas are integrated so that the students see the relationship among the subjects. Emphasis is placed on applying knowledge and skills learned to real world problems.

Homework
Homework may be assigned throughout the week to reinforce classroom instruction or finish classroom work. When homework is assigned, it would take about 30-45 minutes to complete. If you have any questions or find your child struggling with the work, please contact the teacher.

Grading
Grades are based on daily work, attitude towards learning, test scores and special projects. Report cards are issued every three months. Parents are informed – between grading periods – if students are in danger of failing a period or when their performance is below teacher’s expectations. Apart from English and Spanish, the curriculum areas of Information Technology, Art, Music and Physical Education are also evaluated.

Family/School Connection
School and teachers welcome parents’ visits and enquiries about the child’s academic development. Parents are encouraged to make the most of all opportunities to be involve in their child’s educational experience.

Library Corner

Each classroom has a library corner providing a wide choice of reading material (fiction and non-fiction for general reading), both in English and Spanish languages.

We encourage parents to give their children every opportunity to enjoy and learn from books – either printed or digital:
• read books to them
• tell them stories and rhymes
• help them to tell their own stories
• let them pretend to read their favourite stories
• encourage them to guess “What is going to happen next?”

School meals: snacks and lunch

Snacks
Snacks can be bought at the School Canteen or brought from home to be consumed at mid-morning and mid-afternoon break times.
Children are encouraged to bring a drink of water to be consumed throughout the day. Sweets are not encouraged in school. In other words healthy snacks please.

Lunch
For Lunch, Primary School children have a choice of:
1. School meal
2. Packed lunch
3. Home to lunch
At the School Canteen great care is taken to ensure that the meals provide a well balanced and nutritious diet for growing children, bearing in mind present opinions as to the value of lower fat, lower sugar and higher fibre diets. A monthly menu is posted in the School Web site in advance and parents and children are asked to book their meals early on the same day or before.

Meal times also provide the opportunity to teach or revise table manners and develop social integration. Children who bring packed lunches or buy school meals eat together in the Dining Hall under teachers’ supervision. Children are able to bring their own drink to have with their meal (water is always available) but we do not permit carbonated drinks (Cola type).

Clothing

The school uniform contributes to a feeling of belonging to the school.
Shoes – black in a style suitable for school wear. Please ensure that these are practical and can be put on and off without adult assistance.
Boots, open-toed sandals, high heels and “fashion” shoes are not appropriate.
Please mark ALL items of clothing and footwear with your child’s name. If you fail to do this, it is very difficult to trace lost articles. Any items of clothing that we are not able to return to the rightful owner will be placed in lost property containers.

Educational visits

During the course of the year various visits will be arranged for the children. These will involve excursions to places of interest, theatre performances inEnglish or Spanish and visits to the school by a variety of performers and artists. The purpose of these visits is to broaden the children's educative experiences.  Class Educational Visits, occurring during school time, are organised to places of interest associated with their topic work. Parents are always notified of such visits well in advance and charged for travel, entrance fees (if applicable), specially-hired services, etc.

Extracurricular activities

We offer our children extra curricular activities after school time having special fees. Activities on offer include:
* Art
* Ballet
* Chess
* Drama
* Swimming
* Taekwon do

Sport activities

We offer school sporting activities and participation in many local competitions in Handball (girls) and Football (boys).

School transportation

Many of our children live at a considerable distance from school and therefore parents might like to consider hiring transport to and from school. It is the parents’ responsibility to make arrangements for and meet the costs of travel between home and school. School transportation information is available on request.

School aims

• To give each child an equal opportunity to reach their full potential - intellectually, socially, physically, and emotionally- by promoting a high standard of achievement through a well balanced, structured and challenging curriculum;
• To promote positive attitudes towards cultural diversity;
• To provide a high quality and supportive learning and social environment in which pupils can develop a positive working attitude and the ability to work independently and co-operatively;
• To foster positive self-esteem, enabling children to develop confidence and act with initiative and to encourage children to value others, treating them with consideration and respect;
• To develop positive and caring relationships between school and home, to forge links with local and global communities and help the child develop a sense of community responsibility.
• To manage our financial resources responsibly, providing a safe and stimulating environment with the highest level of staffing and continued professional development.

Parental participation

Parents are encouraged to maintain a close contact with the school, thus enhancing the “family atmosphere”. Parent/Teacher consultations give parents the opportunity to see and privately discuss their children’s work and progress. Parents are welcome to contact the school at previously arranged times if they have a query or wish to raise something with the class teacher. Similarly, staff will often consult parents informally, before or after school.

Discipline

Good discipline is essential for maintaining the standards we set and for creating an atmosphere in which teachers and children can work together with mutual respect. To achieve this aim, a great deal of initial guidance and control is obviously needed and high standards of behaviour are always expected, as each child represents “the family” of the school, in and outside the premises.

Children are encouraged to show respect for others and to respect the rights of others. Emphasis is placed on encouragement, praise, reasoning and incentives. Children who misbehave are spoken to privately and parents may be involved if necessary. Sanctions such as the withdrawal of privileges are used if there is a breakdown of discipline. Continued unacceptable behaviour are discussed directly with parents.
There are few rules, and those which do exist are for practical and health reasons – e.g. long hair tied back for girls, no chewing gums, unusual amount of money, jewels or expensive toys, etc. Children are informed about playground behaviour rules and made aware of the consequences of breaking them.

Our philosophy of education

Knowledge is not “received knowledge” any more, it no longer consists of right and wrong answers – it is a matter of opinion from students and these opinions are initially equally valid. When students are asked for evidence to support their views, they learn to distinguish weak evidence from strong.

As a final stage, students take their own stands on different issues (scientific, social, historical, etc.) on the basis of their own analysis which reflects their values, experience and knowledge. Students need also to find enduring values and ideals which do not contradict their experience of reality but at the same time provide an adequate basis for everyday living. The future success of our students is based on our commitment to teach them to understand values, the importance of values to their lives and that poor values can be hurtful to others and destructive to themselves. Our students are helped to see that knowledge is value dependent, culture dependent and changeable.

Students in introductory English courses (1st, 2nd, 3rd) need more structures and are more likely to want the “right” answers and clear guidelines. In higher levels (4th, 5th, 6th) they are asked to appreciate other points of view, evaluate them and rethink their decisions whenever conditions change and new information comes to light. In all levels, students are encouraged to draw connections between what they already know and what they are learning, in all levels the amount of information is limited in each presentation and concepts, not facts, are stressed in order to be easily understood and remembered.

Throughout PRIMARY LEVEL students are guided to become more self-reflective and self-regulated learners by coaching them on how to improve their reading comprehension, how to summarize, how to participate in class discussion or oral presentations and how to study for oral and written tasks

How parents can help

Parents are the child’s first and most important teachers. Being involved in the child’s education, both at home and at school greatly improves chances for success.

• support your child’s learning by showing interest in education
• ask about school activities and encourage your child to talk about what goes on at school
• encourage reading by having magazines and books appropriate to the child’s age
• encourage listening to English by having or borrowing DVD’s, computer programs, watching films in English or listening to songs
• use Websites that provide useful information and guidelines for projects or topics children are studying at school.

Always give children the opportunity to show what they can do. Comment and admire any piece of work they accomplish. Praise and encourage the effort they show rather than point out what they cannot yet do. Your involvement throughout the year will help increase your child’s academic success.

English curriculum and assessment

In accordance with the Spanish Department, the goals for Pre-School and Primary education in English are specific: • to make possible personality development of pupils according with their abilities and principles of the developmental period (by balancing their cognitive, emotional and social development), • to convey to them the basic knowledge and skills that make possible an independent and efficient adaptation to the social and natural environment, and • to develop their awareness of belonging to a specific cultural tradition through a second language. Students are guided to understand their own language and culture through comparison or through the relationship between the foreign language and the mother tongue. A bilingual education must be oriented to a complete development of the human personality and must promote understanding, tolerance and solidarity among people, nations, races and religious communities.

Lester House School English levels

FOUNDATION LEVEL 3 years old
TRANSITION LEVEL 4 years old
BASIC LEVEL Kinder, 1st and 2nd Grade
International Exam:
Young Learners Exam
Level: Starters
University of Cambridge (England)
PRE-INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 3rd Grade
INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 4th and 5th Grades.
At the end of 4th Grade:
International Exam:
Young Learners Exam
Level: Movers
University of Cambridge (England)
POST-INTERMEDIATE LEVEL 6th Grade
International Exams:
- KET – University of Cambridge (England)
- PET – University of Cambridge (England)

The English curriculum

English learning is closely integrated with the Official National Spanish Curriculum in Uruguay, as far as topics is concerned. Some aspects of history, geography or sciences that students are supposed to learn in Spanish, are taught and assessed through English.

Considering that children learn best when they are involved and when their work is valued, the content in the English Curriculum is presented through an activity-based approach integrated with a meaningful and understandable language. Children are not introduced to English language in an artificial sequence of grammatical structures or functions. Each child is encouraged to acquire language at his/her own pace and manner because they do not learn at the same pace and in the same manner. Each teacher is encouraged to make the Curriculum relevant, interesting, meaningful and enjoyable.

At Foundation, Transition and Basic Levels (3 to 7 years old) our goals and expectations are directed towards making the teaching and learning process enjoyable and fun-filled so that students can achieve their maximum potential. At these levels students are valued individually and more importance is given to social relationships aiming at making young people not too dependent on adult help. Vocabulary and grammar instruction is made enjoyable by singing songs and playing games. The children practice using new vocabulary in songs related to the themes. Games motivate students to learn and use the new vocabulary in simple sentences.
During story time, the children hear a short story read by the teacher. Students are always eager to answer comprehension questions using one or two word responses and simple sentences.

As from Pre-Intermediate to Post-Intermediate Levels (8 to 11 years old) students are required to perform at their top providing them with a curriculum that is interesting and relevant to their ages and needs so that their learning opportunities are enriched. In these levels experiences outside the school are part of the curricular programs. These include field trips, attending theatre plays, visits to exhibitions and displays and inviting visiting speakers to talk on a variety of topics. Small group activities are used to promote interaction and preparing students for the real world. Project work, including two or more members, allows students to study together and learn from each other. Evaluation is based on the process as well as the product of the group’s work.

From ages 6 to 11, Internet is used for reinforcement of concepts already presented in the classroom, for practical applications on theoretical principles and for selecting and summarizing a wide range of information.

We aim to meet the needs of all pupils in the school by providing a broad and balanced curriculum where all children can experience success and build on their strengths in the English language.

While we realise the prime importance of English within the Primary level, we also feel that children need a more rounded education. At LESTER HOUSE we therefore place a lot of emphasis on Sciences, Literature, History, Geography and Information and Communication Technology.
We set targets for the children and review progress on a three-month basis  

 

The English curriculum subjects

English
Children are encouraged to develop a broad range of skills in speaking and listening, reading and writing. Reading is a fundamental skill and we encourage parents to join in the excitement of their children learning to read. Through our Reading Project we match children to books that will best develop their skills and interest. Every class has its own book corner with a variety of titles suited to a particular age group and the school has an annual subscription to www.sciencea-z.com where children can read and do lots of associated activities in graded reading material related to Science. We emphasise presentation and handwriting skills. Speaking and Listening skills are developed across the whole curriculum. Each year we put on our English Festival show to encourage confidence and self-expression in the English language.

Sciences
In science we aim to develop children’s natural curiosity about the world around them. We try to promote scientific thinking, observation, hypothesising and the design of class projects. We teach children to draw meaningful conclusions through reasoning and the evaluation of evidence, and to become effective communicators of scientific ideas, facts and data. Social Sciences are always a key part throughout the English curriculum at all levels.

Information and Communication Technology
We recognise the importance of information technology and aim to develop the confidence and competence of all pupils. We have a wide range of software and we regularly upgrade computer equipment. Children in all classes have controlled Internet access.
The main part of our computer teaching takes place in our Computing Room, under the direct supervision of a specialist Computing teacher. The children save their own work and manage their own desktop as part of the learning process.
Our Multimedia Room has an interactive Smartboard which teachers of English, Spanish and Portuguese use every week.

Homework

Home assignments are an extension of instruction. Homework is related to teaching and learning.
Because of other demands on children’s time, homework is restricted to periodical simple and short assignments considering that when the number of assignments becomes overwhelming, students will surely have negative attitudes about school and learning. More demanding work should be left for the classroom.

Homework provides opportunities to practice and improve skills or gain further knowledge or understanding. Home assignments also teach lessons that cannot be measured, such as self discipline, perseverance and time management. Doing homework teach students how to begin a task, complete it and be responsible for the final product. If they are short, interesting and easy to complete, home assignments can be an important tool to assess the attitude of students towards learning.

The amount and type of homework our pupils receive will vary depending on what they are studying and which year group they are in. Since we also value the extra activities that children become involved with outside school, we do not over burden our pupils with unnecessary homework.

Initially homework tends to be reading and practical exercises moving to more demanding tasks as your child progresses through the school curricula.

Student assessment

From early ages, the LESTER HOUSE Curriculum has assessment standards that establish guidelines for evaluating student performance and attainment of content.

Student Assessment focuses on students’ analytical skills, ability to integrate what they learn, creativity, ability to work collaboratively and oral and written expression skills. In this authentic assessment, student gradually do experiments, understand and write stories and reports, read and interpret literature, solve math problems that have real-world applications and have a position in a classroom debate.

The expectations of the Lester House English Department for students in their final level of instruction (Post-Intermediate Level – 6th Grade) are aimed to assess how well they have mastered concepts and skills. Students are asked to interpret, describe or predict. They are also required to evaluate their own participation, process and products. Assessment emphasizes process and performance and encourages students to practice critical-thinking skills.

The assessment of students’ progress and achievement in all levels is carried out in a manner that does not cause anxiety in the students. As new EFL curricula have moved in the direction of developing communicative skills through the integration of language and content, the traditional paper-and-pencil tests no longer cover the variety of activities and tasks that take place in the classroom.

Young learners are notoriously poor test takers. The younger the child being evaluated, assessed, or tested, the more errors are made and the greater the risk of assigning false labels to them. Traditional classroom testing procedures can cause children anxiety that affects their language learning as well as their self-image. Therefore, children need to learn and be evaluated in an anxiety- reduced environment. This can be achieved if children perceive assessment as an integral component of the learning-teaching process rather than an independent process whose purpose is to judge their abilities in relation to their classmates.

The Lester House English Department uses formative assessment techniques requiring students to perform authentic tasks using oral and/or written communication skills. These assessment techniques are integrated into daily classroom activities, such as oral reports, group work and problem solving activities, and give a comprehensive picture of the students’ abilities, progress and achievement.

At the early stages of learning, before the emergence of speech, children are assessed through the use of physical performance responses and pictorial aids. As an assessment technique, this type of response help to lower the level of anxiety normally associated with evaluation, as students see it as a natural extension of learning activities.

In oral interviews students are asked to choose pictures to talk about, and the teacher’s role is to guide the student by asking questions that require the use of related vocabulary. The use of role-play combines oral performance and physical activity. Children of all ages, when assessed through this technique, feel comfortable and motivated, especially when the activity is seen as a fun way of learning. Oral presentations are also important because they provide a record of students’ abilities in oral performance. They give the teacher some information about student’s interests, work habits and organizational abilities.

Assessment of the written communicative abilities of children is normally performed through authentic tasks, such as writing letters to friends, writing and responding to invitations, giving personal views, creating stories or narratives that relate to personal experiences, etc.

 

Report cards

Report cards are issued two times in the year for the first grades up to Kinder (5 years old) and three times a year for the rest, with the student’s level of proficiency for each reporting period based on progress towards end-of-year expectations.
Up to Basic Level (5 years old) detailed comments about the student’s performance in English are reported to parents.
As from 6 year-old students onwards, assessment is reported assigning numerical grades and a concept on different items.
Upon the teacher’s or parents’ request, the teacher will show parents whether or not a student is meeting expectations, or progressing towards them, in a teacher-parent conference.

Lester House English festival

The Lester House english festival is a major annual activity of the Department of English and an important piece of the school’s curriculum.

The Festival has become a key component of the English Syllabus and is a special project which provides an opportunity for students to develop key skills of communication and compromise. Drama promotes language development and pupils develop confidence when speaking to an audience or when they adopt roles and characters. Pupils also acquire a critical approach when reflecting on and appraising their own work in drama and the work of others. Throughout the preparation for the stage presentation pupils work creatively together and solve problems in groups of various sizes. These skills, along with flexibility, empathy and risk-taking, are recognised as essential in future adult life.

Our goal in the preparation and presentation of the show is not to produce professional actors but to educate through theatre, to break down barriers and to work on language, personal, social and emotional development valuing and respecting the creativity of children.

Pretending to be others in imagined situations and acting out sketches are important activities in the curriculum for the children of all ages. Very young children, and those working significantly below the expectation for their age, can respond to our demands by listening to and watching another group at work in the classroom - mixing drama, dance, music and visual arts. As children engage in these drama activities they become increasingly aware of the use of space and the way body language communicates meaning.

The preparation of the Lester House English Festival takes about three months in which pupils experiment with sound, voice, gestures, silence, movement, stillness, light and darkness. Pre-school and Primary aged children are given access to the excellent learning opportunities that can be provided while preparing and presenting this event.

When selecting main and secondary characters, teachers provide equal opportunities for all pupils through an audition process in which classmates also vote for the best performance. Students understand an audition is a necessary step, they take part in one way or another and teachers then work on the way pupils have to accept the final voting.

During the first period of preparation children learn to take turns when speaking their part and begin to recognise the need to practice their plays to make them better. Then they learn lines and how to use their voices and bodies to create characters and atmospheres, employing language and tone appropriate to the role or character.

The last step previous to stage presentation is to improve and refine their acting through the rehearsal process, making full use of the performance space and resources in their productions.

Employing music, light and costume to enhance their stage presentation, pupils understand the benefits of collaborative work and use this opportunity to enjoy themselves and learn more.

 

Portuguese

The importance of Portuguese language in our region (MERCOSUR) is great and more people are choosing to learn it. Students in 5th and 6th Primary grades are introduced to Portuguese in oral, reading and writing communication, following the academic school year.