Inter-mission education

European Inter-Mission Education Standing Council

EIMESC was formed out of Eurotck by a consensus decision in the international education seminar. The purpose is to develop the themes and recommendations made at Eurotck and make them into practical and working models that can be taken up by our agencies and their families, as well as any of the international MK schools where we have our children and staff. The recommendations made at Eurotck 2007, and in a follow-up meetings since then are listed below.

General Recommendations

The recommendations of Eurotck (see seminars page on this site, point 4) were all restated and there is continuing agreement with these goals. The need for parents and schools to work together on mother tongue skills is vital. EIMESC will be circulating more information about this in the near future, including Carola Keil’s article based on her presentation to IMKEC 2007. This article is available on the Eurotck home page by clicking on Educare December 2007.

There is a lot of information and various training courses are available to help parents and schools with mother tongue and ESL issues. Several of these were outlined:

  • Bilingualism in International Schools, by Maurice Carder from Multilingualism Matters.
  • Second Language Students in the Mainstream Classroom by Coreen Sears from Multilingualism Matters.
  • Parents’ & Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism by Colin Baker from Multilingualism Matters. (Also available in Spanish as Guía Para Padres Y Maestros de Niños Bilingües)

The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) website has quite a number of articles; follow the search facility for “World Report” from the home page.

The European Council of International Schools (ECIS) is a collaborative network promoting the ideals and best practice of international education.

EIMESC will liaise with ACSI to help internationalisation of our schools progress. We will also work with groups emerging in Commonwealth countries, Latin America, Korea, India and other growing Asian sending countries. We will work together with agencies and international schools wherever possible to seek to as relevant as possible to all of our mission family needs.  EIMESC will continue to promote these ideas through all possible means – on visits to agencies and schools, in conferences, and through websites and magazine articles such as those in Educare. We will also continue to highlight good practice through the same routes.  We are actively seeking examples of good international education experience and practice from families, organisations and schools. Anyone wishing to contribute an article or other ideas can contact Steve and Gill with details.

Recommendations For Parents

Parents are the main guardians of the passport country culture/s.

EIMESC recognises the central role of mother tongue teaching and development as essential for the long-term re-entry prospects and sense of cultural identity of the child. It is the lack of mother-tongue proficiency, above any other factor, that has resulted in so many TCKs being unable to successfully re-enter their passport country, or to experience serious struggles in doing so. Parents are also the main guardians of their children’s mother tongue/s. Except in certain circumstances, parents should speak their normal mother tongue with their own children at home.

Examples of exceptions are:

  • a family setting aside an evening or other designated time to speak together in another language in order to learn together or help retain that language.
  • parents who have a third common language that they speak to each other in, having met in foreign-language context.

As part of this mother tongue development, parents also need to ensure that they have materials to teach literacy skills to their young children, and proper school materials to teach higher level academic language as the children grow. Magazines, CDs, DVDs and other similar resources are useful to help in this process, but aren’t a substitute for a real academic programme.

Recommendations for sending organisations

Pre-field training is vital in many respects for success of teachers, tutors and other MK staff on arrival. We strongly advocate that all agencies insist that all of their MK staff should attend special MK pre-field training. We also recommend that there should be input on these courses from non-Anglophones. From the EIMESC perspective this should be from a Scandinavian or Continental European, but we also recognise that input from Latin Americans and/or Asians (especially Koreans) is very important.

Organisations need to include training in long-term planning, advice on where to get mother tongue teaching materials and general third culture kid teaching in their orientation programmes. If an organisation doesn’t have the staff to do this, they should bring in outside help. Preparing parents in this way to take their children to another culture is not a useful addition to an orientation course, it is essential.

Recommendations for international schools

Schools should require their incoming staff to receive preparatory training as outlined for organisations.

Many MK schools are expensive. We encourage all of our schools to follow the precedents set by a good number of them in establishing scholarship funds. This will become even more critical in the light of families from emerging sending countries where support is a major issue. Whilst recognising that the parents are the main guardians of the passport culture/s, we ask that schools be aware of the needs of European children. Sensitivity to their needs can be enhanced through good policies and training in the school and good preparation by training agencies. Language is the key issue. These concerns are not unique to Europeans, but are shared with our Korean, Latin American and other non-Anglophone families. We ask that schools have in place a twin policy to cover these areas:

English as an Additional Language – EAL, (also called ESL or EFL, the term EAL is preferred as study in English may well require learning beyond the “second” language of ESL) EAL teaching is vital for success, and virtually all of our schools have policies on this. The teaching may come by extraction, immersion or a combination of the two, and will depend on the level of prior knowledge, the age and ability of the child among other factors. All of our agency schools have ongoing needs for staff trained in TEFL with children.

Mother tongue teaching – the importance of this is less well understood. However, the long-term education and welfare of the child is at stake here. We ask that schools allocate time for mother tongue study. If there are sufficient students the sending agencies and families concerned should be asked to provide a mother-tongue teacher. If there are only a few students, a realistic amount of study time can be provided in the schedule/timetable and homework allowance for them to follow a correspondence or similar course. If the students are in the upper grades they should be awarded credits towards graduation based on mother tongue study. In schools offering the International GCSE, there may well be First Language exams in their mother tongue.

Any notions that multilingualism is a problem need to be firmly abandoned. Such thinking is often based on hearsay, and faulty and discredited research done on both sides of the Atlantic in the early 20th Century. See Carola Keil’s article based on the IMKEC 2007 presentation of this issue for more details about additive bilingualism in Educare December 2007 (home page link on this site) and Maurice Carder’s book “Bilingualism in the International School”.

For examples of good practice see:

Vienna International School:

Frankfurt International School:

Hinkson Christian Aacdemy:

A thorough programme of teaching for the Korean students as well as the English-language programme

Bourofaye Christian School:

A full system using an English language core curriculum with first langauge/mother tongue units of study. BCS staff presented this working case study at Eurotck 2010. Explanatory diagram here.

Rain Forest Academy:

RFIS has a well-established programme based on a combination of the Cambridge International Examinations IGCSE and the College Board AP. This integration of the best of the two transatlantic systems is a model that a number of other schools are working towards.

Ukarumpa International School:

This school has a programme of first language/mother tongue built in that is similar to the one at Bourofaye.

University entrance

EIMESC asks that the basic requirements for university entrance in Europe should be as widely known as possible. These are generally International Baccalaureate with a high enough score, A levels with high enough grades, or other European equivalent such as the French Baccalauréat.

From US-system schools they are as follows : High School Diploma + good SAT scores + 5 AP subjects (Continental Europe & Scandinavia) or Diploma + good SAT scores + a combination of 5 SAT subject tests & AP subjects (UK & Ireland – also for Australia, Hong Kong & Singapore).

We will circulate this information around all of our linked agencies and MK schools, especially to directors, principals, head teachers and guidance counsellors.