In this article, two Year 6 students reflect on their joint experience of studying in a bilingual environment as initial non-English speakers and how they adapted. Lina and Maxim attended SIS Schönenwerd from kindergarten through to Year 6.
We started speaking English with our teacher Anandhi. She was very kind-hearted, and we started learning and having tests on common words. We now had some common phrases we could use in the classroom, for example, “Can I please go to the bathroom?” or “Can I please borrow a pencil?” We were now a little more comfortable using English in these circumstances.
We started reading and writing in English. We started having tests and doing maths and science and humanities in English, and we also started to use a wider vocabulary. We had some children in our class who only spoke English, so if we wanted to talk to them (which of course we did) we needed to use English. Now we were becoming the leaders in helping these students.
We learned to speak fluently, and we started to do presentations in English. We were growing more and more confident in using English and we had a more advanced vocabulary, so we could find the words we needed to communicate.
We were able to present our work to the whole school and we enjoyed reading entire novels in English. Lina discovered that she was a super creative writer and enjoyed using all the interesting words and phrases she had learned to write entertaining and funny stories. Maxim found he was a strong presenter and adored being in front of an audience. This went hand in hand with the beginning of his acting career, where he is still successful today in both English and German.
We advanced our reading, writing and speaking skills. We were able to communicate with great confidence and ability. We found our speaking skills very useful when travelling overseas. When Maxim travelled to Mauritius, for example, he remembers being able to answer questions about his dinner choices, such as choosing his own pizza toppings, making it a much more enjoyable experience.
We learned difficult and confusing words and phrases as well as many adjectives. Maxim continues to be a confident actor and presenter and Lina continues to write amazing narrative stories. We are now fluent readers, speakers and writers.
Maxim and Lina, Year 6 students