Language Learning

Diverse Language Options

Language learning is very important at WISS. With a community of close to 50 nationalities and over 40 languages spoken, we endeavour to support not only new language learning but also the opportunity for students to maintain their mother tongues. Recognizing the significance of mother tongue language development, WISS continually explores opportunities to work with cultural and embassy groups to offer as many mother tongue programmes as possible.  Mother tongue is defined as the language you would speak as a ‘native’ of your home country, but of course we know that our families are multi-cultural and may have a less well-defined set of language needs. For more information on languages at WISS, or if you would like to try and set up a mother tongue language programme, please contact our Head of Modern Languages, Mirjam Berghuis at

English Language

WISS offers a curriculum that takes into account each student’s individual needs. Each student will work through a step by step continuum of learning goals. Equality of access to the curriculum for all students, including those who learn English as an Additional Language (EAL), is ensured by both direct language support from specialist teachers and a whole school approach in the daily classroom. Additionally, we aim to ensure that all EAL pupils are able to:

  • Use English confidently and competently
  • Use English as a means of learning across the curriculum
  • Where appropriate, make use of their knowledge of other languages

Our EAL specialist teachers have had extensive experience working with children learning English as an additional or second language. The EAL teachers work closely with the main classroom teachers to identify the particular learning needs of English Language Learners. Children are taught English both within the classroom and in small groups working with the EAL specialist who uses resources specifically geared to second language enhancement. Where English is not strong enough to access the curriculum, Chinese or another second language will be replaced by extra English until the level of proficiency increases.

Chinese Language

In this ever evolving and changing world, with so many people becoming globally mobile, the need for bilingualism is paramount. At WISS all students may study Chinese as an additional or native language. The language programme will be further enhanced through school assemblies, performances, presentations and field trips around Shanghai. Chinese is the only language other than English that is offered at every ability level from Nursery through to G12.

Mother Tongue Programmes


WISS Partners with LanguageOne, a leading Dutch language school in Shanghai. LanguageOne is hosted at WISS and students in Primary and Secondary can take mother tongue language programmes after school. Students in Kindergarten are also able to take Dutch lessons within the school day. The LanguageOne has been in operation since 1996 and currently works with over 200 students in Shanghai.

Finnish and Swedish

WISS hosts these language schools to offer mother tongue support to WISS students and across Shanghai. They run weekend programmes. They also host cultural events at WISS throughout the year.

German, Spanish, French

These languages are taught in Secondary school at various ability levels and across a number of grades. They may also be available for Afternoon Activities in Early Years and Primary School and for After School Activities in Secondary School.

Korean and Japanese

These languages are currently offered in the Diploma Programme (G11 and G12) only. There is a Japanese Club available for fluent speakers during Afternoon Activities in Early Years and Primary School and for After School Activities in Secondary School. These languages are offered by parent and affiliated groups, usually after school once per week or at the weekend.

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