Vienna International School’s Primary School is a special place to develop student learning. We are in every sense a truly international school, with children from over 100 nationalities playing and learning together. The vast majority of our students are learning English as an additional language. We have strong English Language Acquisition (ELA) and other Language Acquisition programmes which support students in their learning and improvement of English. All students learn German from age five, and over 20 additional languages are supported through our Mother Tongue and Parents Assisting Learning (PAL) programmes. In addition, individual learning needs are supported by our Learning Support department and Primary School Counselor.
Our specialist music, art, physical education (PE) and library teachers ensure that students’ skills, knowledge and understanding in all subject areas develop under throrough guidance and expertise. Our facilities allow students the space and opportunity to explore and inquiry, as do lessons with our resident Science Expert in our Outdoor Learning gardens.
At the heart of all that we do in the Primary School is the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Programme (PYP). The PYP is an international curriculum that the Primary School here at VIS has played an important role in creating and developing. This curriculum develops the academic, social, physical and emotional skills, knowledge and understanding of each student. Our dedicated and experienced teachers contribute to this learning journey with expertise and passion.
The Primary School is a busy place, with students involved in a wide range of different experiences throughout the year, including well-structured excursions at all levels. Our Connected Learning program ensures that students have individual access to digital tools, and a dynamic After School Activities programme provides further access to sport, science and more.
At VIS we believe in learning that develops inquiring, involved and inspired students. I look forward to meeting you and discussing with you the ways in which VIS can contribute to the learning and development of your child.
Dr. Christine Orkisz Lang
Primary School Principal
English Language Acquisition (ELA) and English B "Language is the medium in which teaching and learning take place in schools; the medium through which we transform and develop our thinking about concepts; and in this way language and content are inextricably linked" (Halliday, 1993)
At VIS the Language Acquisition programme supports students whose mother tongue is not English* to acquire the English language skills necessary to participate successfully and confidently across the curriculum.
The Language Acquisition programme has been designed to meet the needs of students who have English as a second or additional language. Our goal is to develop English language skills, which allow children to be successful in their academic work as well as in everyday communication. We have adopted the IB language continua in which is organised in phases.
The Primary School offers a discrete programme for the IB PYP Language Scope & Sequence Phase 1 and 2. Students in the IB PYP Phases 3 and 4 are supported in the classroom.
At VIS, we pride ourselves on having a strong Early Learning Years programme, which consists of our Early Learning Centre (ages 3-5) and Grade Primary (ages 5-6). We emphasise learning through play, and each school day is planned to provide the children with stimulating activities, outside play time, and lessons with our specialist teachers.
We recognise that children are naturally curious and wish to experiment, explore and make sense of the world around them. Our programme is inspired by the Reggio Emilio approach, which is student-centered, constructivist and utilises self-directed, experiential learning in a relationship-driven environment. We emphasise the growth of children's inquiry, creativity, curiosity and imagination, while the development of basic skills is carefully nurtured. We offer:
- A safe, caring environment in which the students are offered developmentally appropriate activities through the medium of English language.
- A teaching and learning philosophy that recognizes that children are natural inquirers and that they experiment and explore so as to make sense of the world around them.
- A creative, play-based approach to early learning with a supportive and highly-trained teaching staff.
- The opportunity for children to work collaboratively and to develop mutual respect in a multilingual and multicultural environment.
- The chance for parents to partner in their children's learning experiences, including accompanying classes to exciting and relevant trips for the students.
We currently have four classes of approximately 16 children aged three to five years in the Early Learning Centre. Every class has its own class teacher and one support teacher. Our classrooms are open planned arrangements, and we also make very good use of our aula, where students from all four classes can come and play at different times during the week. This enables more and varied play areas to be set up, so students can explore a wider range of activities.
We endeavour to balance our classes by age, gender and language. We offer all children a full-day place. However, parents may choose to place their children for half-day only. All children who enter the Early Learning Centre must be able to use the toilet independently.
- A wide variety of practical experiences, for example, painting; collage; indoor and outdoor water and sand play; constructional activities and inquiry science
- Early literacy and numeracy activities
- Specialist lessons in PE, music, art, German and library and in-class support from our resident Science Expert and Digital Integrator
After leaving our Early Learning Center, students move into Grade Primary where they continue to learn through play, with an increasing focus on early literacy and numeracy skills. Students also attend specialist lessons for art, music, physical education, German and library, and they are supported by our resident Science Expert and Digital Integrator.
Grade Primary consists of three classrooms with approximately 20 students, a class teacher and a support teacher in each, as well as a full-time English as a Second Language/Language Acquisition teacher shared across the grade. During the day there are a range of learning experiences designed to promote oral language, social skills, early literacy skills and numeracy.
When students arrive in their classrooms, they find variety of curriculum-related activities which they are free to explore as they interact with their classmates and try out their ideas. Our hands-on and active learning make it easy for children with differing levels of English to access the curriculum. Through the organisation of the classroom and careful planning, our staff ensure that all students have the opportunity to become independent learners.
As part of our literacy programme we encourage regular reading in the classroom, both individually and in small groups. We encourage students to reflect on their own learning using their digital portfolios, where parents can see samples of work throughout the year.
Following the Early Years, the Primary School continues with Grades 1 - 5 where we have either four or five teachers per grade level and approximately 22 students per class. Support teachers assist teaching and learning in Grades 1 and 2.
Our programme is rigorous, dynamic and vertically articulated, with specialist teachers and well-appointed teaching spaces for supporting the development of music, art, physical education (PE) and library knowledge, skills and understanding. Our resident Science Expert and Digital Integrator support students in class and in our Outdoor Learning Gardens.