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A Commitment to Inclusivity and Linguistic Diversity

By Tiffany Crook
A Commitment to Inclusivity and Linguistic Diversity

At the Inter-Community School (ICS) of Zurich, languages play a crucial role. As a truly international institution, ICS celebrates the diversity of all learners who bring a multitude of languages other than English to our community. We appreciate and honor our diverse students who strive to advance their English proficiency within our environment. ICS is renowned for its exceptional track record in fostering the linguistic development and achievements of our students, ensuring our commitment to inclusivity and linguistic diversity remains robust.

Last spring, to continue this rich tradition of linguistic development, ICS announced the inception of the Alegria program, an innovative and intensive English language acquisition program. The initiative was driven by our commitment to enhancing English medium learning and was designed to cater to English language learners from various educational, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. The Alegria program was uniquely crafted to elevate students’ English language proficiency while being expertly guided by our English as an Additional Language (EAL) specialists, opening the doors to a broad curriculum and cultivating a sense of belonging.

The Alegria classroom is a vibrant, inclusive space allowing for intensive instruction and robust support, fostering an environment where students feel safe to be themselves, learn at their own pace, and lead their own learning. The emphasis within the program is not merely on acquiring linguistic skills; it transcends to a broader aim of developing intercultural fluency and connecting with diverse cultures and perspectives. It’s about envisioning a world enriched with diverse thoughts and allowing students to harness their entire language repertoire, making them feel empowered and poised to realize their full potential.

In addition to acquiring English proficiency, Alegria students engage in a variety of mainstream lessons including mathematics, science, performing arts, and physical education, emphasizing our commitment to providing a well-rounded education. Native German speakers also have the opportunity to attend German lessons, ensuring the maintenance and development of their native language skills.

We pride ourselves on being a diverse and welcoming school, and the introduction of the Alegria program speaks volumes about our determination to extend our educational offering while maintaining English as the medium of instruction. The program symbolizes a new beginning, reflecting the dawn of new opportunities, growth, and journeys, especially for those who are relatively new to English but are fundamentally linked by their desire to communicate, to share, and to understand.

We believe that learning a new language is a transformative journey, fostering resilience, empathy, and adaptability, and with a clear goal in sight, it can be a highly rewarding experience. The Alegria program is not just a testament to our continued commitment to embracing multilingualism but also a reflection of our ongoing endeavor to create a learning environment where every student feels a profound sense of belonging and is able to connect with the world in more meaningful ways. The name Alegria resonates with the essence of new beginnings and opportunities, and as we wrap up the first month of classes, we remain focused on the ultimate goals, ensuring that each challenge faced strengthens our students' sense of purpose and belonging in our ever-evolving global community.


Tiffany Crook is an EAL specialist. She has worked in international schools in Canada, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Switzerland. She is in her 10th year at ICS and has worked in EAL at both the primary and secondary level during her time there.


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10/25/2023 - Mary Langford
Inclusion and celebration of lingjuistic diversity needs to extend beyond enhancing EAL and English-medium learning, but also supporting the mother tongue language activity and learning for all students. This means having school-wide policies that support this and enable this. Sadly, my organisation that is suporting over 200 students in IB schools worldwide cannot work with ICS students because of the finance office policies. I am pleased that the school have made an exception so that we can contiue to help the Ukrainian scholarship student whose SSST Ukrainian we support by providing a Ukrainian Lit Tutor (without any financial benefit to our organisation.)