Language Policy

Language Policy


The language philosophy of the school is grounded in the OIS values, respect, growth, excellence/personal challenge and integrity.


  • We respect the identity of our learners and understand that they bring with them rich and diverse language profiles.
  • We respect the identity of the OIS community and its diverse languages as this promotes international mindedness and intercultural understanding.
  • We respect the language of our host country, and aim for all students to be able to function linguistically in Portuguese society.



  • We aim to foster the ability to communicate with clarity and confidence in more than one language.
  • We recognise that all teachers contribute to the teaching and learning of language.
  • We recognise the central role of language in constructing meaning, sustaining personal growth and cultural identity.
  • Strive to provide the necessary resources and support so that all language learners have equal learning opportunities.

Excellence/Personal Challenge

  • We develop the ability to interpret, analyse and think critically using language.
  • We understand that successful human endeavor, including life-long learning, is underpinned by sustained language development.
  • We support ongoing mother tongue and multilingual language development throughout all areas of learning.



  • We acknowledge that all teachers are responsible for the teaching and learning of language.

Language Teaching and Learning Practices

  • The school’s language of instruction is English.
  • Differences within and between languages (for example, the Portuguese used in Portugal, Mozambique and Brazil) is recognised, explored and celebrated.
  • Language is fundamental to all learning within the school.
  • A learner’s development in each subject area is partly dependent on language proficiency.
  • Each unit of study provides an authentic context for the development of linguistic skills.
  • All teachers model language by explicitly teaching relevant structures, registers and subject-specific terminology.
  • Different language skills are explicitly taught using various forms of communication.
  • Collaborative learning within relevant and challenging learning environments is encouraged to facilitate effective communication in a range of contexts for a variety of purposes.
  • Displays are used to support language development.

Language Pathways

In the Middle Years Programme (MYP) students are expected to study at least one language and literature course as well as at least one language acquisition course. They can also study two language and literature courses (where they have a high level of proficiency in those languages) in addition to one language acquisition course.

In the Diploma Programme (DP) students are required to study at least one Group 1 Studies in language and literature course and either a second Group 1 Studies in language and literature course or a Group 2 language acquisition course.

In keeping with IB philosophy, we value sustained language learning and only in special circumstances can a student change their language option. This decision is based on the principle that the change will benefit the students’ long-term language learning.

  • In year 6 students develop English language proficiency.
  • In year 7 to 11, students develop Chinese, Dutch, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish mother- tongue, and study additional bilingual or language acquisition courses.
  • In years 12 and 13 students study two language courses. One course is an English course (language and literature, literature or language acquisition) the other course can be:
    • Chinese (language and literature),
    • French (literature or language acquisition),
    • Portuguese (language and literature, literature or language acquisition),
    • Spanish (literature or language acquisition) or
    • A mother-tongue language where possible (literature).

Placement and Progression in Language Acquisition

Note on Transitions:

Transition from one phase to another is determined by the class teacher and head of department and based on data gathered in formative and summative assessments throughout the term. Students may transition at the end of a reporting period following an analysis of the assessment data and written notification being shared with students, parents and teachers.

All potential students must do an English Placement Test. It is designed to assess reading comprehension and writing proficiency. An informal oral interview is also required to assess fluency, accuracy and listening comprehension.

In language acquisition, there are three phases of learning which represent a developmental continuum of additional learning. Students may start their language acquisition course at any phase on the continuum and may exit the course at either capable or proficient. In English, students may start the course in emergent, except for year 10, by which time students begin at capable.

Table of Languages Offered


* Due to staffing challenges, MYP German Language Acquisition is available only to the graduating class of 2022 and IB Diploma German ab. initio is available only to the graduating class of 2018