Non-native English speakers can transfer directly to LAS from abroad and continue their high school studies without the need for an ESL preparation year.


With the development of the four basic language domains:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Speaking

At LAS this is achieved through—

Sheltered immersion, content-integrated learning.

ESL students study with native speakers from the start for mathematics, arts and physical education. This encourages students to share cultural backgrounds and international understanding. In the sheltered-immersion model, language and content learning are integrated to promote the mastery of English language skills, and language development and content-area knowledge are primary objectives. Students strengthen English language proficiency to excel in academic classes that require a high degree of English ability.

Mother tongue support

LAS encourages continued development of skills in the students’ mother tongues through the International Baccalaureate Language Self-Taught Program, as well as through our International Collection in the library, which contains reading material in 23 different languages. This helps to maintain academic and cognitive engagement in their mother tongues.

As an ESL student’s proficiency improves, he/she will join mainstream and IB courses.


Through sheltered immersion and mother-tongue support, students learn to use English as part of:

  • social communication and social skills
  • academic learning in all content areas and ESL classes
  • maintaining cognitive development in their mother tongues


Students learn more effectively when they use language for a purpose.

Second-language students need opportunities to read material at their individual levels, and writing activities need to be closely integrated with conversation and reading.

A supportive environment is the key to learning a second language.

Groups work together with mutual trust and respect, encouraging the second-language learner to take risks, explore and experiment with conversational and academic language.

Language and concepts are developed together.

Language is best learned in a functional/experiential context so that students use language to think and learn.

Focus is on meaning but also form.

ESL students must be engaged in meaningful learning activities in which the students talk with each other, pose questions and solve problems together.

Second language learning builds on previous knowledge and experience.

Successful second-language learning is dependent on the continual maintenance of first-language literacy, which is achieved when parents, teachers or friends listen to, read and talk about stories in the first language. ESL students develop second-language competence at individual rates, which are influenced by their first-language background, their previous literacy and school experiences, and their own abilities.

Features of the ESL program

More than 50 percent of LAS students are or have been in the ESL program. This ensures that all students will have the necessary level of English when they enter the mainstream program. ESL courses emphasize continual acquisition of academic language skills, with three courses that include study in both language and content.

ESL students:

  • Come from 50+ countries
  • Follow a sheltered-immersion program balancing language study with content study
  • Focus on the four basic skills of writing, reading, listening and speaking
  • Gain a sense of international understanding and share their cultural backgrounds and languages
  • Are immersed with native speakers in mainstream courses in physical education, mathematics and arts/music, as well as in after-class activities and travel
  • Are placed using the Oxford Online Placement Test test and must take IELTS (or TOEFL) to graduate
  • Are assigned rooms in residence halls with students of a different language background, thus, requiring English language communication

From April to August, Bridge ESL students participate in an exciting English language study and learning experience in preparation for academic studies in English at Leysin American School.

Primarily for students coming from countries where the school year ends in March/April, the program is worth two language credits toward graduation and consists of a mixture of classes in Switzerland and UK summer school, including the opportunity for European excursions and tours.

From April to June, students are enrolled in classes at LAS where they can obtain one credit on passing at least five of their classes; students do not take final exams. For three weeks in June, the destination is England and a homestay program. LAS will organize all details of the stay. Upon successful completion of the homestay and a positive report from the school in the UK, students will have 0.5 credit as well as a valuable experience. LAS will help with all details of the homestay to make this an easy transition from one part of the Bridge Program to the next.

Following the homestay, Bridge students are enrolled in Summer in Switzerland (SIS) and return to Switzerland to take part in both of the three-week SIS sessions. Students earn 0.5 credit and participate in a cultural tour.

Transcripts for ESL Bridge students will indicate that they entered LAS as part of the Bridge Program and that, if successful, they have earned two credits. When they return for the school year, they will be enrolled in the same grade as during the ESL Bridge Program.