FAQ Frequently Asked Questions

A school that integrates the Brazilian national curriculum and an international curriculum offering an innovative bilingual education.

What is bilingualism?

The concept of bilingualism is complex and can involve several dimensions. It is a multidimensional phenomenon in which different levels of analysis are considered: individual, interpersonal, intergroup and social. There are theorists who consider it important to analyze different dimensions when defining bilingualism: relative competence (relationship between the linguistic competences of languages); cognitive organization (it presents a single cognitive representation for two languages or presents distinct representations for each language - may vary depending on the concept; age of acquisition; presence or absence of speakers of the other language in the environment in question; status of the two languages involved and identity cultural.

The individual “makes” language and uses two or more languages in social practices to build meaning with another interlocutor and to meet the demands of the context in which he is inserted.

Bilingual Education – What is the definition?

Bilingual education is the offer of knowledge construction through two languages in a context of academic excellence; it favors the expansion of skills for the 21st century; it humanizes the subject by giving him access to different discourses, different perspectives and points of view, to the plurality of narratives, crossing cultural borders and forming a citizen with global thinking, committed to building a more compassionate, fair and equitable world.

What is the meaning of being bilingual?

A person who uses two or more languages in social practices to build meaning with another interlocutor and to meet the demands of the context in which he is inserted. The bilingual individual is not the sum of two monolinguals, but an individual who is constituted by moving between their languages and cultures.

As António da Cunha Duarte Justo says, “To be bilingual is to be a process, a process in change, it is not having two languages, but living in two languages, in two worlds, navigating in other spaces; it is having more open views, other perspectives of the world, it is involving freer participation, dynamic knowledge; it is to live in love, accepting the other as he is open to communicate, to give and to receive... (Blog Pegadas do Tempo, Junho,2008)
Being bilingual is not a point of arrival, but a journey in which you learn for the rest of your life.

What is an international school?

International schools are those linked to another country and its respective curriculum. They offer a multilingual environment by hiring teachers and managers from different countries and welcoming students of different nationalities.

International schools initially emerged from communities of immigrants and expatriates who sought to provide an education to their children who did not speak the language of the new country. With the change in the flow of immigrants and expatriates, these schools began to receive children from Brazilian families and to offer Portuguese language, history and geography of Brazil. The main focus of students from these schools is to study outside Brazil.

Will the school follow the Brazilian or international curriculum?

As a Brazilian school with an international curriculum, Great International School offers its students the best of both worlds. It integrates the national and international curriculum, providing students with the possibility of developing academic skills in Portuguese and English with pedagogical practices sensitive to the local and global context that has "a transformative educational proposal that prepares students for autonomy as protagonists and authorship in a scenario of mutations. We aim for a school in which values related to the culture of peace, the presence of art, the expression of creativity and the space of corporeality are present in the curriculum development.” (PPP)

"By explaining its concept of education, GREAT articulates the guidelines of national education with the local and international reality, it also declares the school's commitment to families, students and educators, defining its identity with the educational community of Piauí." (PPP)

What is the estimated time for the formation of a bilingual person?

The field's literature and experience demonstrate that achieving academic proficiency in the additional language that will enable you to deal with the challenges of an academically rigorous curriculum at the level of your age group takes time. Research conducted by Jim Cummins, a researcher who has settled in Canada, indicates that it takes approximately 2 years to develop interpersonal communication skills (BICS - Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills and 5 to 7 years to develop cognitive and academic language proficiency (CALP - Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency). Another research conducted by Virginia Collier and Wayne Thomas, who have settled in the United States, demonstrate that it takes 7 to 10 years to develop CALP. Being bilingual is not a point of arrival, but a journey in which you learn for the rest of your life.

What means to learn an additional language by immersion?

In this perspective, students will build knowledge through the two languages and teachers will work with learning expectations of different curricular components and also of language, always taking into account cultural and socio-affective aspects. It is important that students are immersed in English so that they can develop the language and learn the content of the series. Teachers offer opportunities and provide the necessary support so that each one can learn and develop. Through active methodologies, students become protagonists in the learning process in a significant way, receive feedback and redirect their learning process. Social and academic language development is intentional in both languages.

World Readiness Standards for Learning Languages

The five “C” s of Foreign Language Education (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities) emphasize that language learning goes beyond the walls of the classroom. It prepares students so they can use the skills and competencies measured by the parameters to bring global competence to their life experiences and future careers.

How long will children be immersed in English?
  • Children from the ages of 2 and 3 will be immersed in the English language 70% of instructional time.
  • Children from the age of 4 until the end of elementary school: 50% of the instruction time will be immersed in the English language.
  • In High School, the immersion time will depend on the itineraries that the students will choose, among those ones offered by the school.
What is the importance of affect in second language learning?

Affection is the point of connection that binds, unites learning. It is present in sign language, in tone, in voice, in rhythm, in the possibility of connecting. Affection must manifest itself through respect, listening, welcoming needs, valuing the uniqueness of each one during the learning processes, when students establish an affective bond with their teachers, with the objects of study and with the language itself.

Nelson Mandela says that “if you talk to a person in a language they understand, it goes to their head. But if we speak to the person in their language, it goes to their heart.” At Great International School, the affective bond with all languages is part of recognizing the other and oneself.

What benefits does bilingual education offer compared to a regular English course? What are the advantages of bilingual education?

Bilingual education is much more than language education. GREAT offers a comprehensive Brazilian education with an international perspective, and also provides students with the development of social language and academic language in two languages.

A bilingual education offers:
  • Possibilities of communicating with more people in different communities
  • Literacy in two languages
  • Different experiences from different cultures - Interculturality - multiculturality
  • Appreciation and respect for diversity
  • Flexibility of thought, greater possibility of developing metacognition and metalanguage
  • Expansion of linguistic and cultural repertoire
  • Mobility across different texts, different cultures and different places
  • Possibility of encounters with other narratives

It provides a reflection on the world and encourages a more compassionate and humanized posture of an eternal apprentice; it promotes the construction of a citizen aware of the planetary interconnectedness and ethics in his actions. In terms of neuroscience, Ellen Bialystok argues that bilingual experience reconfigures the attention system in the brain. Many experiences are sources of neuroplasticity and bilingualism is one of them - it leads to an adaptation of the brain's attention system and behavior.

Does bilingual education work well for children who have learning difficulties? Will neuroatypical children be able to learn both languages?

Bilingualism does not increase or reduce learning difficulties. Unfortunately, health professionals and families make common sense choices in a monolingual perspective. Researchers such as Fred Genesee and Tara Fortune explain that this choice needs to take into account the school conditions and the necessary support from the family so that this student can become bilingual. Research shows that these students do not perform academically as well as peers without learning difficulties. The performance, however, is similar to that of students with the same needs in monolingual environments. Therefore, generic advice should not be given without looking at each situation individually.

When will my child be fluent?

Language learning fluency refers to the ability to use oral or written language to communicate effectively. It requires linguistic knowledge; however, the production is not necessarily accurate, that is, it may contain errors. It can take 2 to 4 years, depending on the pace of each student, interest in the language, family support and ability to take risks. Generally, you become fluent in social language (BICS) first.

What is the difference between being fluent and being proficient?

The concept of what it is to be proficient and how to measure this proficiency is quite complex and controversial. Language proficiency is multidimensional and encompasses linguistic, cognitive and socio-cultural issues. One attempt to define proficiency is the ability to use a language appropriately and accurately in its oral and written form for different purposes in a variety of contexts and with a variety of interlocutors. It requires a socio-cultural, academic, linguistic and communication repertoire, critical thinking, metacognitive and metalinguistic skills.

What age group would be most recommended for starting a Bilingual Education?

If at all possible, there are some benefits of putting a child into bilingual education as early as Kindergarten, for instance. Language acquisition occurs through ludic activities and the child tends to develop better pronunciation, more immersion time and to establish an affective bond with the language. However, it is never too late to learn a new language.

When will children become literate in both languages? / How will children become literate in both languages?

In a bilingual context, there are no two literacy courses, as the literacy process is one – it is unique. A child who becomes literate in a certain language (Lx) will not become literate again in the other language (Lx). If, upon becoming literate, the child already masters speaking and listening in Lx, the skills he/she acquires in Lx literacy will be applied in both languages simultaneously, with adjustments to the grapheme relation (writing unit) and phoneme (unit of sound) for the mouth shape of the target tongue.

  It is necessary to know the linguistic repertoire of the students in order to analyze the hypotheses in both languages and make the necessary interventions so that knowledge is transferred and systematized.

In the case of students who learn L2 after being literate in their mother tongue (L1), while learning to listen and speak in L2, they will also be able to read and write, as the skills acquired in literacy will be transferred gradually and with correlations, for L2. This work of language transfer expands the students' repertoire and develops the metalanguage.

It is not, necessarily, the grade taken that determines when the student will be able to read and write in L2, but the time of exposure to languages. Considering that bilingual students are exposed, for example, to a greater repertoire of information and readings, and that the use of a language occurs in a context of intercultural immersion, such exposure and appropriation of different cultural and linguistic forms contribute to the transfer of learning in both languages.

"Literacy and Biliteracy?" We assume that literacy and biliteracy go hand in hand. The literacy process consists of mastering the alphabetic writing system in the context of social practices of written language and participating in written culture. Literacy refers to the acquisition of skills in encoding and decoding signs, matching with sounds, understanding grammatical structures and, fundamentally, in the ability to interpret, understand and re-signify the linguistic code. Literacy skills means “to develop skills in the use of reading and writing in a social and cultural context”. The work with literacy at Great International School is guided by the theoretical contribution of constructivism. There are reflection activities on the alphabetic writing system and children are encouraged to take risks according to their hypotheses.

In the case of Great International School, children in K5, ideally, will write lists and other genres based on their hypotheses, will be able to “read” textbooks and will participate in shared reading with the teacher. Therefore, there is an expectation that they will achieve literacy in the 1st year.

How do they learn the content if they are not fluent yet?

In immersion programs, knowledge is constructed through two languages. Even if students are emerging bilinguals, when classes are taught in the additional language, teachers use a variety of strategies:

  • They use comprehensible input, that is, they adjust the language so they can be understood even when the students do not understand all the words and promote the students' output
  • Use gestures and various concrete materials and different media to help construct concepts
  • They work in an approach that encourages students to engage with the content and the language that permeates the different curricular proposals (counterbalanced approach)
  • They use active methodologies and individualize the necessary support (scaffolding) so that each student can participate in their learning process and achieve expectations
  • They create a safe environment in which students are not afraid of making mistakes and can use their entire repertoire and share their knowledge
Does the Immersion Program mean using the English language at all times? When is the use of Portuguese allowed?

Research shows that bilinguals and multilinguals do not “turn off” the different languages they speak. As such, they rely on their linguistic repertoire even when they are expected to use only one of the languages. In fact, the use of interlinguistic strategies is of great value. At Great International School we value all languages spoken by the school community and encourage the use and practice of the language of instruction in the classroom.

Will new concepts be presented first in Portuguese?

Concepts can be presented in both English and Portuguese. The school will prioritize the presentation of concepts depending on the objectives in the construction of knowledge. Concepts are not repeated in both languages. They will be presented in one language only and expanded or deepened in the other language.

What kind of English is taught in a bilingual school?

Students develop social language (BICS), everyday classroom language and academic language (CALP) in different areas of knowledge.

What are the cultural elements that will be worked on the educational project in Bilingual Education?

According to Machado (2002:24), the concept of culture can be related to the following points:

 - culture determines man's behavior and justifies his achievements; - human beings act according to their cultural standards, and their instincts are partially annulled throughout the evolutionary process they go through; 
- culture is a means of adapting to different ecological environments, therefore, instead of modifying their biological apparatus, man alters his superorganic apparatus;
 - upon acquiring culture, man began to depend much more on learning than on genetically determined attitudes; 
- culture determines human behavior and their artistic or professional capacity;
 - culture is an accumulative process, resulting from all the historical experience of previous generations. Therefore, culture can be defined as a set of practices, habits, laws, artistic expressions and memories of a community - everything that man does, he learned from his peers through an accumulative process.

In this regard, language is also part of culture. Thus, members of the same community who do not share the same language do not share all the cultural aspects of that community, and there are members of the same community who share the same language, but who may be culturally diverse.
Bilingual Education enhances contact with people from different cultures, engaging with different narratives and experiences. The school offers an environment full of cultural stimuli, ranging from literature, popular culture, gastronomy, classical and contemporary art, to original music through multisemiotic means, to philosophy, history, etc. Students are encouraged to examine, question, research, find points of confluence and divergence historically constructed, to value differences, appropriating information and establishing cognitive associations that will facilitate not only the learning of the language in question, but also the ways of doing, seeing and feeling the world from different perspectives and values, from different communities and countries, having the language as a means of access. Thus, knowing the other, in addition to broadening our perspective, allows us to question certainties.
The school proposes to be bilingual and multicultural/pluricultural.

What are the activities that effectively guarantee the acquisition of culture in the English language?

The teaching methodology adopted makes use of active pedagogies in which the student is invited to participate, discuss and produce knowledge in different languages and through different paths.

Social interaction uses the language to be appropriated as a means of interlocution, designing projects, solving problems, experiencing games and ICTs, researching and producing texts, quizzes and exchanging experiences in collaborative work are some of them. of the didactic possibilities of a “teaching” process that will be pleasurable and challenging.
In addition to these ones, the possibility of watching videos and documentaries, online integration with students from other schools in Brazil and other countries, participation in cultural events at the school and in other countries, by videoconference, will bring dynamism to language acquisition as tool for building diverse knowledge.

How will the student be assessed in English?

“As part of the curriculum, the assessment reveals the coherence of the educational process, insofar as it adopts procedures and instruments compatible with the institutional discourse. Given the assumptions announced in the PPP, the concept of GREAT assessment is formative, contributing to the student's knowledge and recognition in academic life, preparing for the sequence of schooling and, in the future, for professional practice, becoming able to self-assess, set goals for self-training, in order to face and overcome challenges.” (PPP)

The assessment instruments are consistent with the school's PPP – Political Pedagogical Project.
The student's level of English proficiency is taken into account when evaluating the content of curriculum components in English. Students will be given multiple ways to demonstrate evidence of their learning. Questions of a socio-affective nature and student attitude will be evaluated separately from academic questions.
In English, students will be assessed in oral language (listening and speaking) and in written language (reading and textual production).

When joining a class without having experience in the English language, how will the student be monitored?

We always believe in the potential of learning, neuroplasticity and a growth mindset (Dweck, Carol, 2017) in which individuals cultivate their qualities and are able to develop through experience and effort. Every student can learn with effort, resilience, developing skills and competences. Differentiation also takes place in these scenarios of bilingual and international education. We are able to support language development with the EAL (English as an Additional Language) program in the push-in (support during classes) and/or pull-out (reinforcement outside class) model.

How important is it to have a dual certification to study abroad?

In fact, there is no need to have a double certification to study abroad. However, the comprehensive training that will be taken at Great International School and the linguistic development that will be established along the way may be of great value to the constitution of the subject's identity, expanding their perspectives and enhancing their contributions wherever they wish to continue their studies.

How can parents help around the house? What if the parents don't speak English? What resources do we have to help?

Christine Revuz: “A child needs to be talked about intensely in order to speak well”.

It is important that the family speaks the language(s) with the connotation that is spoken at home. If possible, expose children and young people to English in different contexts and if possible, with different accents. Provide exposure to the language through books, magazines, music, programs, software, art, movies, series, games, etc. Open the space to learn with their children. Parents can be facilitating bridges, giving comfort and confidence to their children. It is not a time for correction, but for exploration. Correction and feedback are in charge of the professors.
What if we switched from English to physics/chemistry? What conditions can I give as facilitators?
What are the incentives? If the family does not speak English, they can ask the child or teenager to teach them something (a song or a game, when they are small). And learn together, why not?
If you don't know the language, use technology to help you: eBooks, apps.

Is Great International School a strong school?

The Great International School has a curriculum articulated with national legislation and international requirements, supported by programs recognized in the educational community.

Its professionals are prepared not only to select content necessary for academic training, but also for the development of skills and abilities required by contemporary education around the world.

The strong school of the past was one that excelled in terms of the volume of content covered in classes and teaching materials, with the expectation that the student mastered the greatest possible number of concepts and information. It was a school of extension and quantity of contents. The guarantee of this collection goes beyond the walls of the school: it is in books, handouts and the internet.

Currently, international trends, the BNCC and bilingual education point to another "strong" school and to a teacher who leaves encyclopedism in the place of reference and practices teaching for contemporary education, forming autonomous, committed, supportive people, with the capacity for self-organization and planning, capable of making choices that define their life project and action in the world.
However, considering the evidentiary situations for admission to Brazilian universities which, in some cases, still take the volume of appropriate content as a classification factor, Great International School will provide spaces for studies, oriented towards this requirement, at all times of curriculum development.
It should be noted that with the advent of the New High School, there is a near perspective of changes in the design of both the ENEM and the entrance exams, a situation for which the educators at the Great International School are aware both in the national and international curriculum. In addition, Great International School remains in tune with the trends announced in Brazil and abroad through dialogue with universities and specialized consultants.
Believing that the school must promote excellence, Great International School works with these concepts to identify itself as a contemporary strong school.

While the traditional strong school privileged the student, the contemporary strong school considers the student as the individual who develops as a student, the one who works and is responsible for learning through the teacher's mediation.

How will the homework be conducted?

Since it is a full-time school, valuing student production and understanding tasks as part of the “student’s mission” and the “student’s attitude”, Great International School proposes:

1- Conducting study orientation at the school at specific times to carry out individual and group tasks.

2- Assignment of individual home studies to develop autonomy and prepare for the most demanding stages of schooling.

3- Development of individual projects to compose the individual portfolio, from projects launched by Fieldwork Education and/or Service Learning (learning sharing).

The purpose of the study activities is not only related to the review of concepts and themes worked from a conceptual and factual point of view, but also to the development of procedural skills such as organization, planning and authorship, directly linked to individual effort and commitment to the construction of knowledge.

The educators will always be careful with the balance in the assignment of tasks, but it is understood that the student's job is to attend school. And the student's job is to study to learn. This effort depends on both roles and the results will affect their respective life project. It is necessary to remember that a “strong” school is not one that pours out content, this is what books, the media and the internet can do. A “strong” school is one that enables students to learn the learning process and face life's challenges, including the episodic phase of ENEM and entrance exams. A “Strong” school promotes the development of resilience to act in challenging situations. And this the school does not do it alone, it does it with those who want and strive to learn: the student.

Is the student who studies at an elite school at risk of becoming alienated in a social protection bubble?

The pedagogical foundations of Great International School are “in line with contemporary education to train local and global citizens and are in line with other national and international documents that place the school's pedagogical project in the context of contemporary education to train local and global citizens. "(PPP, p8)

Concerned with training students to respect diversity and experience real-world experiences, the school does not shy away, for example, from welcoming students with special needs, within what the law determines, understanding that the diverse educates, does not constrain, and that citizenship rests on a commitment to equality and equity. Great International School declares respect for adherence to the inclusive postures of legislation and its pedagogical proposal emphasizes three aspects of the World Declaration on Education for All (JOMTIEN, 1990): Education for all is the foundation of ethics, of co-responsibility among all sectors of social life; action strategies for basic education must go beyond the classroom, considering the social environment as an educational space and the participation of different social actors as relevant, including diversities and differences. The contents of education (knowledge, values, attitudes and skills) are not only subject to transmission, but involve experiences, interactions and experiences in a quality relationship between educators and students.

In this context, the pedagogical proposal of Great International School also incorporates the principles of the Jacques Delors Report (Education: A Treasure to Discover) for UNESCO from the International Commission on Education for the 21st Century – which values and integrates the different dimensions of human (feelings, corporeality and the transcendent vision of life).
By contributing to the integral development of the person - spirit and body, intelligence, sensitivity, aesthetic sense, personal responsibility, spirituality, Education must prepare all students to think autonomously, formulate value judgments and act according to its own principles in the face of the world and of life (PPP, p. 9).

The complexity and fragmentation of the contemporary scenario (Morin, 2002) require an understanding of the different dimensions of the human so that the construction of a new world is possible. In this direction, the Great International School takes inspiration from the concepts stated in the UN Millennium Goals, so that students can build postures that make a difference in the local and global perspective, assuming planetary citizenship.
Finally, the pedagogical proposal incorporates the UN's 2030 Agenda, dealing with the Sustainable Development Goals in transversal themes, present from Early Childhood Education, declaring the institutional commitment to integral education and planetary citizenship.

The educational proposal of Great International School is transformative, pre students for autonomy as protagonists and authorship in a scenario of change. The aim is to create a school in which values relating to the culture of peace, the presence of art, the expression of creativity and the space for corporeality are present in the curriculum development.

To materialize this idea, Great International School will develop projects that will integrate the curriculum, the socio-emotional development of students and the perspective of citizen action. These projects are:
Align / combine the concrete possibilities, remembering that the purpose is not welfare, but community participation, therefore, donating is not enough. It is necessary to act, build a sense of reality;

  • Partnership with nursing homes and promote frequent visits for recreation for the elderly, work with arts, movement, music, storytelling, theater, transcription of the stories told by the elderly and publication of these stories in different types of media.
  • Involvement in periodic campaigns carried out by the municipal government.
  • Assignment of scholarships.
  • Offer of literacy and elementary school courses – Initial Years for adults in the region and/or employees of neighboring residences.
  • Assume the maintenance of a municipal square with the participation of students. (Posters, rules, promotion of events with guests from entities)
Are there any other questions?

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