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Language Policy: English


The development of a school wide language policy at Baltimore City College derives from our need to clarify the beliefs we hold about language teaching and learning, as well as to verify that we meet the diverse language needs of our students as we prepare them for active citizenship in a global society.  Our policy is also grounded in the three fundamental concepts of IB, holistic learning, communication, and intercultural awareness, since all three concepts are intertwined in our language instruction and curriculum.

Our schools’ language policy is expressed in two ways:  an explicit written policy and an implied policy, which can be inferred from our regular, daily interactions between faculty, staff, students, families and community members. The goal of this document is to make both clear so as to best serve the needs of all members of our school community.


At Baltimore City College, it is understood that…

  • Language is the primary means of communicating and learning.

  • The acquisition of language is a life-long process and an essential component of intellectual and personal growth.

  • Mastery of one language supports acquisition of other languages.

  • Language mastery facilitates success in all subjects.

  • Language is an expression of culture and an integral part of identity.

  • The development of the mother-tongue is critical for maintaining one’s cultural identity.

  • Language learning promotes internationalism and multicultural understanding.

  • Language learning must be fostered in all aspects of the school community.

  • All teachers in all subject areas are language teachers.

  • Teachers must strive to recognize the language needs of all students and serve these needs inside and outside of the classroom.


At Baltimore City College, our language policy aims to…

  • Enable students to learn and use language effectively, appropriately, accurately, and confidently.

  • Develop students’ powers of oral and written communication.

  • Enable students to develop and use language skills in a variety of contexts and purposes.

  • Promote the appreciation, understanding, and analysis of spoken and oral communication.

  • Encourage students to explore language as a means to understand multiple points of view from across all cultures.

  • Develop students’ awareness of the role of language in all areas of the curriculum and investigation of topics of interest.

  • Provide an opportunity for enjoyment, creativity and intellectual stimulation through the knowledge of language and literature.

The Language of Instruction

The language of instruction at Baltimore City College, in grades 9 through 10, is English in the seven subject groups of Language and Literature, Individuals and Societies, Mathematics, Science, The Arts, Design and Physical Education and Health. The primary language of instruction for Language Acquisition, in grades 9 through 10 is Spanish or French. 

Respect for Linguistic and Cultural Diversity

At Baltimore City College, when we make both explicit and implicit actions to show respect for linguistic and cultural diversity, we are referring not only to our multilingual students, but also to those students who, although they speak only English, are also linguistically and culturally diverse.

We acknowledge that linguistically and culturally diverse children come to our schools with previously acquired knowledge and learning based upon the language used in their home.  This is the language that has been used to establish relationships and the language that has been used to construct knowledge. Language is tied to each student’s culture, tradition, values and attitudes and each language makes City a diverse community of learners. 


We also recognize the value of strong partnerships with our parents.  This includes effective and timely communication with all families.  In order to foster effective communication with non-English speaking parents, the following supports are in place as needed:


  • The bi-lingual staff of Baltimore City College will act as translators for Open Houses, Recruitment Events and Parent Conferences. If a suitable translator has not been identified, then Baltimore City Public Schools will identify a translator either by phone or in person for communication from CTS Language Link.


We also recognize our role in preserving the linguistic and cultural diversity for our students, their families and our community.   We offer the following support and encouragement to parents and guardians of linguistically and culturally diverse students:


Since our curriculum, in all subject areas, exposes students to the variety of dialects and languages that comprise our global society, families will be asked to volunteer as guest speakers when the need arises and during cultural days to support intercultural awareness.

Families will be asked to encourage their children to discuss their school experiences in their home language.

Families will be encouraged to visit both the school libraries and neighborhood libraries to find books to read together in the home language.

Families will be encouraged to visit their child’s school and ask for help with an interpreter if needed.

Signage, Parent newsletters and Parent Connect phone communication will be offered in English and the home languages.

Mother Tongue Accommodations

Baltimore City College acknowledges the importance of developing a mother-tongue language in promoting community relationships, cultural heritage, and personal growth.  We encourage the development of the mother tongue of students through an environment of acceptance and celebration of linguistic diversity in our school community. When possible, we will schedule students into Language Acquisition classes that allow students that accommodate their strengths and weaknesses.

In accordance with federal and state requirements, Baltimore City Public Schools conducts the Home Language Survey of all students to assist in identifying language minority students. The Home Language Survey provides a broad indicator of which students may require further assessment to determine eligibility for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Services. That information is documented in Baltimore City Public Schools’ Student Management System and each teacher has access to the information for each student they teach. 

Since we also acknowledge that a mastery of the mother tongue leads to success in acquiring mastery in additional languages, we will assist students in locating suitable teachers to support mother tongue development if they cannot be provided in our school.

Provisions for Second Language Learners in the Language of Instruction

The primary goal of the English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) program at Baltimore City College is to build social and academic language skills in English so that students may be successful. ESOL program activities ensure that federal and state requirements are followed and provide equal access to a quality educational program for students learning English as a new language. Students are first identified with a home language survey and the MSDE-required assessment in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students receive ESOL classes and tutoring in addition to their general education classes if they need support.

The Writing Center, Research Center and Reed Math and and Science Centers are peer staffed one on one resources available for students language development. Students can use the centers at lunch, during class and after school. The smaller setting and individualized instruction at each center is a support for students to develop in both their Mother Tongue and Second Language while working on their school work. Faculty leads in each center work closely with classroom teachers to identify students who need additional support.

Baltimore City College also has an ESOL Educational Associate who provides support in planning, development. The ESOL Educational Associate also supports classroom teachers in best practices for instruction and assessment.

Rules and Expectations about School Wide Language Use

In accordance with the IB fundamental concept of intercultural understanding and respect, Baltimore City College has both a school wide policy prohibiting speech that reflects such attitudes as racism, sexism, homophobia, prejudice, the use of offensive names, or other forms of verbal harassment. 

Faculty and staff serve as examples for students as well, helping them to develop their sociolinguistic competence, or knowledge of how to use language appropriately in different contexts.

Language Instruction Across the Curriculum

As teachers refine their units of instruction through the use of the concepts, skills and content, they incorporate the skills of listening, speaking, reading, writing and media literacy.  The approach to content in each subject area is inquiry based, with a focus on giving students a rigorous curriculum through authentic learning experiences. The following activities detail how we develop effective communication in English across the subject groups:

Listening and Speaking - oral presentations, debates, dramatic interpretation, Socratic Seminar, speaking standards for each grade level

Reading -critical reading of literary and non-literary texts, independent reading, authentic research tasks

Writing - the writing process in all subject areas, written response in a variety of modes, writing standards for each grade level

A central part of English instruction and media literacy at City is the school library.  It is here that students and teachers will access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms in all subject areas.  It is also the center of the 10th grade Personal Project.

Language Acquisition Instruction

At Baltimore City College, we strive to have all students proficient in both English and at phase three in another language at the end of our program. The goal of this progression is to prepare students for success in Higher Level Diploma Program language study in their final two years of high school and then a second language in which to communicate in a global society. 


Teachers refine their units of instruction through the use of the MYP unit planners and the lens of the Areas of Interaction to incorporate the skills of listening, speaking, reading, writing and media literacy.  The approach to content in each subject area is inquiry based, with a focus on giving students a rigorous curriculum through authentic learning experiences.  The following activities detail how we develop effective communication in the language of study, on a daily basis:

Writing- emphasis on vocabulary and grammar development through the writing process so that students can clearly express their opinion and point of view

Speaking- emphasis on vocabulary and grammar development in so that students can be understood by the native speaker through oral presentations, conversations, debates and role play

Listening- incorporate Rich Electronic Archive for Language Instruction Anywhere (REALIA) and other authentic and current listening tasks to improve comprehension, vocabulary and grammar development

Reading- emphasis on understanding and analyzing authentic and current fiction and non-fiction about topics of cultural relevance including periodicals, biography, short story and poetry

Language Policy Review

The language policy, is a living document.  It will be reviewed by the staff annually to make sure that it adheres to best practices, current research and district policy. 

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