Learning Through Language: The Beauty of Language Immersion Schools
Maria Abad & Bodo Heiliger
Children constantly work to understand the world around them and also have those in the world around them understand them. This desire to make sense of themselves and the world provides the foundation for children to be immersed in an additional language, not only to become fluent in another language but to develop cultural fluency. At The International School in Portland, Oregon, USA, children are fully immersed in one of the three languages of instruction, Mandarin, Japanese, and Spanish. In this session, participants will engage in a case study of The International School, where they will engage in learning the structures, practices, and policies to ensure that children experience powerful concept-driven and play-based learning environments across all classrooms.
Head of Elementary
Bodo Heiliger is the Head of Elementary at The International School in Portland, Oregon, as well as a Critical Friends Group Coach, and Lynn Erickson Concept-based Curriculum and Instruction consultant. Prior to working in Portland, he was the PYP Coordinator at Munich International School, and has served in many leadership and teaching roles at various schools across the United States and Germany. Bodo loves reading and writing about education and has been published in several books including, Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action and Being a Teacher: A Book of Cases.
Head of Early Childhood
Maria Abad has been the Head of Early Childhood at The International School in Portland, Oregon, since 2008. As a life-long educator and advocate for learning through play, Maria began her teaching career in Ecuador where she earned her teaching degree from Pontificia University of Cuenca. In 2020 she completed the Certificate in Early Education Leadership from Harvard University. At The International School, she has led the school to the forefront of complete/total language immersion teaching and learning where Japanese, Mandarin, or Spanish are the languages of instruction across all subjects. Maria’s passion and expertise lie in creating transdisciplinary language immersion environments that truly celebrate and foster learning through play across early childhood and elementary classrooms.