Welcome to IST’s Student Services Information Site


Welcome to the International School of Tanganyika’s Student Services Website. Here you will find programme information, useful articles, links to online resources and much more. Please check back often and feel free to leave us a message with your ideas, links and good thoughts. Asante!





SSP Meetings at the Elementary School


What are SSP meetings?

SSP stands for Student Support plan. It is an annual plan and the cycle runs from January/ February to January/February. The logic for the calendar starting midway through the academic year is to ensure that there is always a plan in place for new classroom and Learning Support teachers to work from in August. At SSP meetings, teachers go over each student’s Program Overview. For all level 2 LS students this includes Focus of Instruction and Accommodations. For level 3 LS students, this includes Focus of Instruction, Accommodations and Individual Goals. The Program Overviews are written collaboratively by the LS teacher, Counselor, EAL teacher (if needed) and the classroom teacher. Along with parent suggestions, accommodations suggested on the child’s external/Ed Psych report would also be taken into consideration.

 When will they be held?

SSP meetings this year will run from Monday January 27 to Tuesday February 4. All parents with students on the Learning Support register have been invited to an SSP meeting. Please be reminded that there are ongoing meetings that whole week so we kindly request that parents arrive on time. We will not be able to go beyond allocated slots, as other parents will be waiting. Thank you for your understanding.

 Where will the meetings take place?

SSP meetings will take place in Room 6.

 Who to contact with questions regarding SSP meetings?

Please contact your Learning Support teacher if you have questions regarding these meetings.

 Grade 1

Ellen Claessens


 Grade 2/3

Cody Alton


 Grade 4/5

Ellen Owen 







New Year’s Resolutions for your kids


Dear Parents,

It’s a new year and I’m sure many of us have made resolutions about how we will eat better, exercise more regularly, keep in better touch with family and friends who are far away and all sorts of other positive changes for our lives. Have we thought about what resolutions we might encourage our children to make and how we can help them achieve those?

Studies have shown that children who have well developed fine motor skills are more successful in the classroom environment. Perhaps this year, you may want to make a point of working with your child to develop those skills. Listed below are some ideas for younger children (toddlers to KG) to help improve fine motor skills.

Walking the ball for Shoulder and Finger Strength.

Use a large exercise ball (Swiss Ball) and have your child hold the ball level with their head against the wall using the palms of their hands and keeping their elbows slightly bent.  Have them walk the ball along the wall.

walk the ball wall

Use a small playground ball and have your child hold the ball against their leg using the tips of their fingers.  Have them walk the ball up one leg, across their tummy, and down the other using their fingers.  Encourage your child to use their dominant hand and not to switch hands once they cross their tummy.

walk the ball leg

Play with playdough or modelling clay for finger strength/agility. 

Sit with your child and make small objects with playdough… birds’ nests full of eggs, snakes and worms, tiny cakes and cookies, plates and silverware, you name it.  As long as they are using their fingers to mold the clay they are building muscles they need for proper pencil grip and cutting skills.


Write on the Wall for Wrist Extension.

You most likely don’t want your child writing on the wall per se but tape a piece of paper up there and let them have fun; they can draw, color, stamp, or write on the wall and build their wrist and shoulder strength at the same time.

writing on the wall

Alternatively, have your child ‘paint’ with water on outside walls and floors.  It dries up, disappears, and doesn’t leave a mess!

Enjoy these simple exercises and see how your children benefit from them in the classroom.  And HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Source:  OT Mom Learning Activities

We wish you a Happy New Year and a relaxing holiday.



Exploring Language Through Song


bird singing

Music reflects our culture, beliefs, traditions, shared experiences, rich history, and is part of the human experience. Songs are part of our language experience. Nursery rhymes, chants, and simple songs are excellent vehicles for learning languages. Most children enjoy singing and it can bring a higher level of interest in routines while helping motivate students.

Adapting songs within the classroom can be an enjoyable way to introduce vocabulary, learn sentence patterns, and sentence structures. Singing supports creating connections with a learner’s home language through the target language. Repeating songs can help young learners practice their listening skills and pronunciation, and with continued practice, students gain confidence in communicating through speaking.

Songs have a powerful way of working our short-term and long-term memory. Natural rhythms in songs help teach English rhythm and stress patterns. Recent research from University in Edinburgh shows there is a strong link between music and memory. Students singing short phrases in their target language were twice as good at speaking it later. The research suggests that learning another language through a listen-and-sing approach could be the best way to remember spoken words verbatim.

Last week a grade one E.A.L. class learned the catchy folk song, “Down by the Bay.” Later, students extended the song by making their own rhymes and creating their own lines. Grade One E.A.L. is looking forward to including more songs into the curriculum for the New Year as well.

Happy singing!


Millington, Neil T. “Using Songs Effectively to Teach English to Young Learners.” Language Education in Asia, Volume 2, Issue 1, 2011.

Gray, Richard. “Singing Can Help When Learning a Foreign Language.” The Telegraph, 18 July 2013. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10188533/Singing-can-help-when-learning-a-foreign-language.html 28 November 2013.

Language Activities for the NEW YEAR!


Depending on someone’s home culture, people celebrate the New Year at different times of the year and in different ways. What type of plans do you make when a year starts? How do you celebrate and when is New Year in your culture? In some cultures people make New Year resolutions and some people celebrate twice – on January 1st AND at another time, such as Chinese New Year or Diwali. Here are some ways you can explore the concept of a New Year with your child and develop their language at the same time!

1. Write some New Year’s resolutions!
In many countries people make New Year resolutions. Here are some common resolutions. Tick the resolutions you would like to make and write some of your own.

I’m going to………….

    • Exercise: do more/join a gym/take up a sport
    • Health: eat less chocolate/give up junk food
    • Hobbies: start a new hobby/join a club/learn a new skill (how to cook, paint, play an instrument)
    • Friends: make new friends/write to friends more/be kinder to friends
    • Studies: study more/do more homework/listen more in class/get books from the library/read more
    • Money: save more money/spend less/be careful with pocket money
    • Stress: worry less/work less/relax more at weekends/go to bed earlier 

2. Celebrating the New Year with a Song!
In the United Kingdom and in many other countries, the start of the New Year on January 1st is a popular time for celebrating. Many people go to a special party in someone’s home with family and friends. There is a count down to midnight and people sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ which is sung throughout the English-speaking world. Do you know the words? Can you sing the song? Alternatively, is there another song in your culture that is traditionally sung at the New Year? Practice your chosen song and perform to your chosen audience!

3. Prepare a Presentation About New Year in Your Country

What traditional ways of welcoming the New Year do you have in your family or in your region? How old are your New Year traditions? Did your grandparents celebrate in the same way? Are children allowed to stay up late to see in the New Year? Are there any special meals or activities for New Year’s Day? Prepare your information with your family, using  pictures and objects if you want and then share with your class.


4. Good Year or Bad Year?
Some years are better or more enjoyable/successful than others. We remember these years and the special things that happened.
Choose a good year for your family and discuss with your child why the year was special. What happened? What did you do? Who did you meet? Where did you go? Write a poem about that year or make a photo album with captions about that year.


5. 2013 Diary

Make a list of things that have happened in 2013 and reflect on the year you have had. Follow these headings to help you:

    • New friends
    • Fun things I did
    • Key events/moments
    • Fun things I heard or saw
    • Important lessons I learned


6. Birth Year Front Cover

Do you know what happened in the year you were born? Find out as much as you can and write a newspaper front page with the top stories of the year. Present it to your friends and family or even to your class.

Number Sense: an overview


downloadCan you picture 10 pencils in your mind? How about 50 pencils? About how much water will fill one cup? Which is more: 43 marbles or 34 marbles?

We have a sort of intuition about numbers that we develop over time. This is called number sense. The more we work with objects–hold them, count them, manipulate them–the better idea we have of quantities. When we have measured a teaspoon of vanilla in 5 or 6 batches of cookies, we get a good idea of about how much a teaspoon is.

Number sense also has to do with an understanding of the written numbers themselves. Young children have to learn that the number “4” refers to a certain quantity of objects. Later, they learn the difference between numbers like 18 and 81, and get a sense of these quantities in their heads.

The best way to develop good number sense is to give kids lots of hands-on opportunities to play with quantities and numbers. Number sense is woven into the other math areas (measurement, operations, shape, data handling, …), and can’t be learned strictly on its own.

However, there are certain skills that are considered to be an important part of number sense, which can be learned and practiced individually.

The 5 most common of these number sense skills children need are:

download (1)Naming Numbers and counting

Kids will learn the pattern of counting numbers (28, 29, 30 is like 88, 89, 90). They learn how numbers relate to each other (50 is ten more than 40). They also learn the names of numbers, and begin to have a sense of how many objects each number refers to.

download (4)


Comparing Numbers

Which number is greater: 181 or 179? Also known as “greater than, less than”, kids need to understand how numbers compare to each other, know what the words “greater than”, “less than” and “equal” mean, and to understand and use the symbols <, > and =.


Odd and Even Numbers

Even numbers of objects can all be paired up; each number has a “friend”. Odd numbers, when put in pairs, have one left without a friend. Until kids have memorized patterns for which numbers are odd and which are even, they will need to physically count them to see if they can be paired up.images (5)


Sequencing/ordering Numbers

If given the number 23, your child should be able to tell the next numbers that come in the sequence: 24, 25. Kids should also be able to count backwards from a number: 90, 89, 88. Second graders should be able to manipulate numbers up to 1,000 in this way.images (1)


Rounding Numbers

First and second graders will learn to round 2-digit numbers to the nearest tens place using a number line or another visual. They will learn to tell which number in the tens place is closest to their number, and round to that number.images (4)




If you would like some practical games to practice number sensse, please contact Ms. Ellen images (2)(eclaessens@istafrica.com)  there are also some great websites to practice these skills and concepts.



download (3)





  • number lines (Little monkey apps)
  • base 10 bingo (abcya)
  • math bingo (abcya)
  • banana math
  • sequencing (montessori apps)
  • Reef math 1(Frolyc)images (3)
  • Splash math grade 1 (studypad)
  • number order (smarter learn)
  • the counting game (apps for kids)
  • 100 slide (math adventures)images





Many parents who have children in the English as an Additional Language program have many questions and concerns as to how they can help their child improve in English.  For those parents who have children who are brand new to English, this can be quite a new and daunting experience.  It is essential that we keep in mind a few aspects that can assist a child in acquiring a new language.

  • One of the most important factors enabling a child to learn a second language is to ensure the development of their home language.  A solid foundation in their home language will enhance their ability to learn a new language.  Besides this, speaking their home language offers children a welcome respite from the pressures of speaking English.  Acknowledging a child’s home language and culture plays a significant role in these formative years.
  • It is important that a child’s attempt to communicate is acknowledged.  If possible, repeat back what the child has said using correct grammar and words.  Eg. If a child says, “I goed and play friends.” You can repeat it with, “I went and played with my friends.”
  • Children learning English may mix two languages in one sentence.  This is nothing to worry about as it is part of the learning process and will decrease over time.
  • It is important that adults realize that at this stage, the child can probably understand more than he/she can express.  Encourage the child to respond but avoid putting on too much pressure.  Non-verbal responses too should be encouraged.
  • Encourage and create opportunities for children to interact with peers and adults who speak their home language.
  • Sending your child on play dates with other children from whom they can learn English, helps develop their language and social skills.  Children are less inhibited in the use of a new language when engaged in playing.
  • Create a rich language experience for your child by introducing them to stories, rhymes, poems and songs in their home language.  If possible, include bi-lingual books.

With all this in mind, the most crucial attribute for any parent is patience.  Learning is not a process that can be rushed.  Give your child time and space, patience and your support.  Acknowledging their skills in their home language will give them the confidence that they need to learn English.  Children are natural linguists.  By supporting children learning EAL, you will be giving them the best foundation for becoming truly bilingual, with all the intellectual and social benefits that this confers.

(Reference: Supporting children learning EAL: Guidance for practitioners in EYFS)

The Importance of Vocabulary



Learning vocabulary is a very important part of learning a language. The more words you know, the more you will be able to understand what you hear and read; and the better you will be able to say what you want to when speaking or writing.  Vocabulary is learned indirectly, but some vocabulary must be taught directly.

There are typically three ways children learn vocabulary indirectly. First, they participate in oral language every day. Children learn word meanings through conversations with other people, and as they participate in conversations, they often hear words repeated several times. The more conversations children have, the more word words they learn.

Another, indirect way children learn words is by being read to. Reading aloud is especially powerful when the reader pauses during reading to define an unfamiliar word and, after reading, engages the child in a conversation about the book. Conversations about books help children learn new words and concepts and relate them to their prior knowledge and experience.

Children learn new words through their own reading of daily independent reading. Put simply, the more children read, the more words they will learn. Some readers will get much more from their reading when working with a “partner”.

Students learn vocabulary when they are taught individual words and word-learning strategies directly.
Direct instruction helps students learn difficult words, such as words that represent complex concepts that are not part of the students’ everyday experiences. We also know that when a teacher pre-teaches new words that are associated with a text the student is about to read, better reading comprehension results.

Direct vocabulary instruction includes specific word learning as well as word-learning strategies they can use on their own.  Developing “word consciousness” in the EAL student can boost vocabulary learning.
Word consciousness learning activities stimulate an awareness and interest in words, their meanings, and their power.

So vocabulary can be defined as the words of a language, including single items and phrases or chunks of several words which covey a particular meaning, the way individual words do. Research studies have shown the strong links between having an extensive vocabulary and achieving school success.

Online resources.

 www.vocabulary.co.il various fun games and activities for all abilities

www.eslgamesplus.com interactive vocabulary and grammar games

www.englishmedialab.com interactive vocabulary and grammar games

www.eslgamesworld.com interactive vocabulary and grammar games

www.freerice.com  game that donates rice to the world’s hungry every time you get a definition right. (for the more advanced students)

Board games to enhance vocabulary.

Scrabble- children use their collection of letters to build words on the grid.

Upwordsis a game very similar to Scrabble. In this game, students use their collection of letters to build words on the crossword style grid. Unlike Scrabble, in Upwords players can place letters on top of existing letters to change a word that is already on the board.

Banagrams uses letter tiles to create a grid of words, but in this game no structure is permanent. Players start with a set number of letters and use them to create their own word grid.

Scattergories is a way for your students to practice using vocabulary they already know.

Catch Phrase is a word guessing game in hot potato style.

Taboo takes the concept of Catch Phrase and brings an even greater challenge. In this game, players must get their team to guess a given word, but each word comes with related vocabulary that cannot be used in the description.


The Essentials of Teaching Children to Read by D.Ray Reutzel and Dr. Robert Cooter

Teaching Vocabulary in the ESL classroom by A. Syam

Teaching words to the EAL learner.

The Importance of Maintaining the Home Language


home language

The Importance of Maintaining the Home Language 

 Parents of EAL children often ask if they should stop speaking their home language and use an ‘English only’ policy at home, once their children attend an English medium school. Although exposure to English outside of school supports children’s acquisition of the language, there are various reasons why it is essential for parents to continue developing their children’s home language, a few of which are briefly discussed here.

Whether parents take on the task alone or find a home language teacher to work with their children, maintaining children’s home languages allows them to:

  • Communicate and express themselves, freely and in increasingly complex ways. This helps children nurture relationships with family and friends in their home country for a continued sense of belonging.
  • Develop and maintain a positive, cultural identity in which children know that their home language is valued and important.
  • Transfer linguistic strengths, general skills and knowledge from their home languages to the language being learned, thus promoting proficiency in two languages and fostering bilingualism.

 Linguistics expert and educator, Maurice Carder, encourages parents to

“Speak your language at home all the time. Encourage your children to read books in it. Visit your country regularly, otherwise they will lose touch with it, along with the abilities and skills which will bring the advantages of bilingualism’ (p. 133, Bilingualism in International Schools).

Ensuring development of your children’s home language is important for confident communication and positive identity development. Additionally, it enables children to benefit from the rewards of bilingualism and to avoid what author Amin Maalouf describes by saying,

“People should not feel like mental expatriates every time they open a book, watch television, talk to people or simply think” (p. 137, Bilingualism in International Schools).

There are various resources on the web and in print, aimed at supporting multilingual families. If you have any questions, comments or raising multilingual children resources to share with others, please contact Ms. Shona Sarkar at ssarkar@istafrica.com or me at ehall@istafrica.com.

Elaine Hall

Primary EAL Teacher