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Languages at UWCSEA

Although the learning programme is delivered in English, the College values and celebrates linguistic diversity. Our community is drawn from around 90 countries, and more than 50 other languages are spoken by community members as their first language.

Our language offerings are designed to provide our students with exposure to other cultures as well as to acquire skill in a language other than English—and to support students whose first language is not English in retaining and developing skills in their mother tongue wherever possible. 

Courses offered

In addition to English or English as an Additional Language (EAL) lessons, almost all students take a Language other than English (LOTE) class. 

Beginner courses: for students with little or no prior exposure to learning the language. Depending on the grade and campus, the beginner languages offered are Chinese, Spanish and French.

Continuation courses: require the student to have had at least three years of prior study in the language. Refers to a ‘taught foreign language.’ Depending on the grade and campus, the languages offered are Chinese, Spanish and French.

Advanced courses: are for first or near-first (native or near-native, or mother-tongue) language students who also have prior study of the language. See explanation in the mother tongue support section below for more details. 

School Supported Self-Taught (SSST) courses: non-examined courses for students in Grade 9 as an alternative to an IGCSE certificate course, in the Grade 10 Foundation IB, as well the Language A course in the IB Diploma. This is an ‘advanced level’ course for students who wish to study in their mother tongue but for whom UWCSEA does not run a taught course.

English as an Additional Language (EAL): click here for details on our EAL provision, which extends from the Infant to High School. 

Details of the languages and courses offered by grade and campus are set out on the Languages at UWCSEA factsheet

For detailed information on the Middle and High School languages courses available, please download the (I)GCSE, Foundation IB or IB Diploma academic programme guides from our Brochures page.

Mother tongue support

Advanced courses 

These courses are for first or near-first (native or near-native, or mother-tongue) language students who also have prior study of the language. Depending on the grade (generally these are offered in High School) and campus, the languages offered are Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Dutch, German and French, and in the IB Diploma Hindi, Russian and Spanish are added to the list of languages offered. Dutch and German advanced courses are available from Grade 7, and on Dover Campus only.

Details of the languages and levels offered by grade and campus are set out on the Languages at UWCSEA factsheet.

Native speakers support 

Specific programmes for Dutch, German, French, Japanese, Korean and Spanish may be available, depending on the campus and the grade of the student. Generally this support is offered via small-group after-school tuition by an experienced teacher or external tutor. The classes are offered subject to demand and there are additional charges. 

Details of the languages and levels offered by grade and campus are set out on the Languages at UWCSEA factsheet.

School Supported Self-Taught Language (SSST) courses

In Grade 9 and 10, this non-examined course helps students develop the literary analysis skills needed for the IB Diploma SSST Language A course in Grade 11 and 12.

In Grade 9 and 10, students have a UWCSEA SSST Language teacher and, in addition, support in their chosen language from a College-appointed native speaking teacher (tutor) who marks their work. On the East Campus, students also have regular classroom contact with this College-appointed tutor.

Literary analysis skills are taught in class, and students apply the skills by reading and writing assignments in their chosen language. In this way, students take ownership of their learning in the target language. In addition to developing the conceptual tools for exploring literature, the SSST course also considers how to structure essays about literature.

The written work of each student is regularly assessed by the native speaking teacher, against criteria provided by the College. These teachers are carefully selected on the basis of their experience and expertise. Parents can play an important role in supporting their children’s efforts by discussing work with them in the target language.

In Grade 11 and 12, students undertaking the IB Diploma select from the IB approved authors list. They are supported by a UWCSEA SSST Language teacher and an experienced tutor in their study towards their Language A course, and a bilingual IB Diploma.

More information on the SSST courses on each campus can be found in the (I)GCSE, Foundation IB and IB Diploma programme guides on the Brochures page.