School Level Descriptions

Emergent Schools Intermediary Schools Vanguard Schools
Student Experience in English
Students have no prior exposure to English before beginning school.
Students have attended at least some Early Childhood Education classes where English was taught, or they have been to an English-speaking country, or they somehow have prior exposure to some English.
Students are native speakers or have at least a minimal level of fluency in English when they start school.
Parents /
Parents do not know English at a level appropriate to help their children with homework or practice speaking with them.
One or both parents can speak some English and can help the student with homework but can only help in the lower grades. They are unable to help once the student has reached middle school.
One or both parents are confident in speaking English. English is spoken often in the home, or one or both parents are native speakers and speak English at home.
Teachers are not native speakers and teach in the mother language.
Teachers may or may not be native speakers, but they feel comfortable using English in the classroom, and they encourage students to use English as much as possible.
Teachers are native or fluent speakers and use only English in the classroom. Lessons and extra-curricular activities are conducted in English only.
Hours per week
English is taught and used less than five hours each week.
English is taught and used between 5 – 7 hours per week.
English is taught 7+ hours per week, and/or other classes are taught in English or students learn in an English only environment.
Other subjects
All other subjects are taught in the mother tongue.
Reading, writing, speaking and listening are all practiced extensively. Usually, Science and Math are also taught in English.
Other subjects in the school are taught in English, and English is used outside the classroom. Some students have lived in or visit English-speaking countries regularly or have contact with English-speaking relatives/friends.
Language skills
Reading and writing activities are used more than speaking and listening.
Students are given opportunities outside the classroom to speak English.
Reading, writing, speaking and listening are all practiced extensively. Students are given instruction in writing with Western-style rubrics. They perform in an L1 environment.
All English skills are taught, but complicated grammar skills are taught mostly in the later grades. Conversation skills are not emphasized, and fluency is acquired at a slower rate or only for the purpose of test preparation.
All basic grammar is taught. Most skills have been taught before high school.
All grammar skills are taught, and often by middle elementary school, students are learning many of the same skills as native speakers of the same age. Often students at this level establish fluency in all aspects—listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

A school at an emergent level would have most of the above characteristics, but the skills are taught and acquired at a slow pace, or they are learned, but not practiced and consequently forgotten. For example, students may be able to write the letters, but many do not make the letters and numbers correctly or spelling is not considered important. They might only learn one type of verb tense during a school year.. 

A school at an intermediary level would have most or all of the above characteristics, but everything is done at a faster pace or more advanced level or there are more objectives to be met for the students. For example, students not only learn about the different verb tenses, but they are given ample practice in using the verb tenses in speaking and writing, so they can use them with ease. As with any intermediary school, the difference between an upper-intermediary and a marginal-intermediary school would be the quality to which each of the skills is taught, and the amount of time outside the classroom that English is encouraged. A lower-intermediary school, for example, might only teach one conditional tense, while an upper-intermediary school would teach at least two or more of the conditional tenses and students learn them to mastery level. 

A school at a vanguard level is either very progressive in its objectives and/or are learning English as a second language and not a foreign language. As with any vanguard school, the difference between an upper-vanguard and a marginal-vanguard school would be the quality to which each of the skills is taught, and the amount of time outside the classroom that English is encouraged. A marginal-vanguard school, for example, would be teaching skills that are taught at the same grade in a native English speaking country, such as America or the UK, but the students are encountering exposure to their native language outside of the classroom (e.g. the playground, cafeteria, bus, etc.) In an upper-vanguard school the students have no exposure to their native language inside or outside of the classroom and their curriculum is progressive, cross curricular, incorporates critical thinking, cognitive learning and skills are taught to the mastery level.