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St. Paul


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Language Policy

Benjamin E. Mays Language Policy

Benjamin E. Mays IB World School

Primary Years Programme

Language Policy

Reviewed October 27, 2020



At Benjamin E. Mays, language is a vital instrument for learning, communication, and expression. Language and communication create the cohesiveness and understanding across cultures we need in a changing world. We believe in providing real life, authentic experiences to encompass multicultural beliefs and values of our students and community. We are committed to providing a learning environment that promotes and supports effective communication and language development. At Benjamin Mays, we strive to assist each child in becoming an internationally minded citizen who extends him or herself into the world in a positive and productive manner so that they can communicate, discuss, and defend their ideas as they consider the larger world around them.  

At Benjamin E. Mays, we believe:

  •     Language is the core of learning, thinking and communicating.
  •     Language skills are developed in context throughout the transdisciplinary themes.
  •     Language is a foundation for inquiry, social interaction and self-expression.
  •     Learning more than one language enriches personal growth and facilitates international understanding.

Mother Tongue Support:

Benjamin E. Mays MLL (Multi-Language Learner) staff includes 2 full-time MLL teachers and a full-time MLL EA (two of whom are fluent in Hmong).  We closely follow the WIDA (World Class Instructional Design and Assessment) Standards and their Guiding Principles of Language Development, which include: 

  • Multilingual learners’ languages and cultures are valuable resources to be leveraged for schooling and classroom life; leveraging these assets and challenging biases help develop multilingual learners’ independence and encourage their agency in learning.
  • Multilingual learners’ development of multiple languages enhances their knowledge and cultural bases, their intellectual capacities, and their flexibility in language use.
  • Multilingual learners’ language development and learning occur over time through meaningful engagement in activities that are valued in their homes, schools, and communities.
  • Multilingual learners’ language, social-emotional, and cognitive development are inter-related processes that contribute to their success in school and beyond.
  • Multilingual learners use and develop language when opportunities for learning take into account their individual experiences, characteristics, abilities, and levels of language proficiency.
  • Multilingual learners use and develop language through activities which intentionally integrate multiple modalities, including oral, written, visual, and kinesthetic modes of communication.
  • Multilingual learners use and develop language to interpret and access information, ideas, and concepts from a variety of sources, including real-life objects, models, representations, and multimodal texts.
  • Multilingual learners draw on their metacognitive, metalinguistic, and metacultural awareness to develop effectiveness in language use.
  • Multilingual learners use their full linguistic repertoire, including translanguaging practices, to enrich their language development and learning.
  • Multilingual learners use and develop language to interpret and present different perspectives, build awareness of relationships, and affirm their identities.

(WIDA English Language Development Standards Framework, 2020 Edition Kindergarten—Grade 12 Promote equity for multilingual learners • Teach)


Language B (Second Language Instruction):

Students in grades K-5th grades at Benjamin Mays receive Spanish instruction from a licensed teacher.  Students receive instruction using an interactive approach to second language learning.  The study of Spanish provides students an opportunity to develop cultural awareness and understand the importance of an additional language.

Language Practices:

We believe that language instruction at Benjamin Mays includes reading, writing, listening, speaking, and viewing skills are a necessary tool for effective communication. Although we use Readers and Writers workshops and phonics to facilitate language acquisition, we know that language development occurs all throughout the day. Students need many opportunities and authentic experiences to build these necessary skills in and out of the classroom. The understanding and mastery of these skills are vital to the development of a life-long learner and help foster an understanding of the world around them. We address all areas of language arts instruction, through direct teaching, inquiry learning, and collaboration between students. The following are components of our language-based instruction:

  • Whole group instruction
  • Independent reading
  • Guided reading groups
  • Phonics instruction
  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Transdisciplinary Learning
  • Presentations (Oral and Project)
  • Use of technology (Personalized Learning)
  • Opportunities for frequent student reflection
  • Use of formal and informal assessment data to drive instruction

Teaching Language through Inquiry:

Inquiry is a lifelong approach to learning. Through inquiry, language is taught throughout the curriculum (transdisciplinary model). Students are encouraged to engage with and wonder about texts and their meaning. They inquire into what readers and writers do, studying their craft and applying these skills to their own work. In addition, teachers may use language books with beginning vocabulary and many pictures, to create a language rich learning environment. Students are consistently given opportunities to collaborate and inquire with other students.