How three high-fee independent secondary schools in the Western Cape currently conceptualise language support for international students with language barriers
A steadily increasing number of wealthy foreigners, mainly from other African countries, opt to send their teenage children to independent secondary schools in South Africa to give their children what they perceive to be the “best education possible” (Spaull, 2015: 14). As is the case globally, international students entering the South African independent school system at secondary level may face major difficulties in acquiring academic English.International students with language barriers tend to gravitate towards schools without rigorous entrance examinations in place. This article focusses on three high-fee independent secondary schools in the Western Cape, two boarding schools and one day school, whose websites in 2017 did not indicate that they had formal, exclusionary entrance examinations in place. Data subsequently provided by these schools showed that their student bodies did, in fact, include a substantial
number of international students. For this study, the principal and two other senior members of staff at each of the three schools were interviewed to ascertain how they provided language support for international students with language barriers. After reporting back
on these interviews, the discussion section of the article critically analyses current practices, with the conclusion of the article acting as a preamble for a follow-up article, in which aspects of the CLIL (content and language integrated literacy) model will be identified which
could prove useful to these schools to further support students and staff.
Keywords: international students, language support, independent schooling, challenges, secondary schools