General Questions, Language Acquisition (Parent Questions), Registration, Bussing, Uniform.

General Questions

Almadina is a public school of parental choice that is granted a specific charter by the Minister of Education.  Almadina and 12 sister charter schools are autonomous, non-profit public schools designed to provide innovative or enhanced education programs that improve the acquisition of student skills, attitudes and knowledge in some measurable way.  Charter schools have characteristics that set them apart from other public schools in meeting the needs of a particular group of students through a specific program or teaching/learning approach while following Alberta Education’s Program of Studies.  The Charter School Handbook outlines the procedures for establishing a Charter school should you and a group of parents have an innovative idea on how to improve student achievements and innovations in education. Currently the Alberta government is committed to allowing a total of 15 public charter schools.  Please visit the Charter Mandate of our website for more information on Charter schools in Alberta.
Every charter school is obligated to deliver the Alberta Programs of Study as set out in the School Act and regulations so that a student can transfer in and out of any school in Alberta from ECS to Grade 12
As a public charter school, ALCA funding is subject to the same reporting obligations as that of any other Alberta public schools.  Charter schools, unlike religiously based schools, whether private or public, may not be affiliated with a religious faith or denomination.  Charter schools are not private religious schools nor are they intended to replace the services offered by private religious schools.  Like any other public school, charter schools such as Almadina may provide general religious instruction and exercises, as may any other public school. Specifically, at Almadina, students may pray at designated areas during non-instructional time such as lunch or recess.  As part of our commitment to diversity in shared values, all religions are treated with the utmost respect during school discussions related to the Alberta curriculum.  Almadina’s character education with its Citizen: Values/Virtue initiative is based on seven virtues/values as found in Michelle Borba’s “Building Moral Intelligence.”  As Albertans, Canadians and knowledgeable global-citizens, our students have shown empathy to all victims of disaster through a myriad of fundraising such as donations to homeless shelters at Calgary.
The ALCA School Council is made up of interested parents who meet with the principal and vice principal to plan activities.  The ALCA School Council Chair is invited to submit items to the board agenda and to share concerns at a duly convened board meeting.  Almadina follows the regulations set for Alberta’s School Councils and even participated in the recent review of Alberta School Council regulations.  Essentially, school councils may:

  • Develop meeting procedures and define its role.
  • Follow regulations related to fundraising.
The Alberta Education Charter Schools Handbook details information about Charter Schools.

The Alberta Association of Public Charter Schools (TAAPCS) is an association comprised of Alberta Education approved charter schools that choose to be members and support TAAPCS objectives.

Registration

Part of the registration package requires that each parent provide the original documents for a Canadian birth certificate or immigration papers , Alberta Health Care Card, vaccination report most recent report card. These documents are checked, verified and reported through the Student Information System. Please visit the Registration & Fees section for further information.

The documents can be sent to the following email addresses:

  • Grades Kindergarten to Grade 3 – waitlistmv@esl-almadina.com
  • Grades 4 to Grades 9 – waitlistog@esl-almadina.com
Current students will register first early in the year.

New siblings will register next.

After the current students and siblings have registered then the new families can register (about 4 to 6 weeks after current students).  Please refer to the website for information on registration early in the year.

Registration is done online. There is no paper registration available.
No. Space is quite limited. New students are accepted after siblings as long as there is space in the grade and we can accommodate your child’s needs. To attend Almadina your child must have consistent, regular attendance and must be in class on September 30.

Language Acquisition (Parent Questions)

Learning English is a long, convoluted process.  Each child learns at a different pace.  The process is influenced by:

  • Level of first language proficiency,
  • Age on arrival in Canada,
  • Educational background,
  • Personality and learning style factors.

Children generally acquire conversational fluency, or Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) in about 2 years.  It takes 5 to 7 years for children to develop the Cognitive level of Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) to succeed with learning tasks associated with academic work.  Many specialized academic words have Greek and Roman roots.  These academic words are also challenging for native Canadian students.

Remember that everything your child knows in their first language will transfer to the process of learning in English. Your first language is an enormous resource!

  • continue to speak your native language at home. Continuously challenge your child to think about and talk about more complex ideas and issues. Move beyond the simple conversations of the “here and now”.
  • consider registering your child in Saturday school or summer language camps.
  • expose your son or daughter to interesting and challenging activities that require more complex interaction in the first language.
  • continue reading in the first language.
  • for students who have well-developed first language literacy skills, continue to choose challenging reading materials. Also, try out grade level translations of well-known novels, plays, etc. that you may be asked to read at school.
First language development helps in second language development. First language development can play a major role in the development of a second language such as English. Older students with full or mature first language proficiency have a greater automatic linguistic and academic bank to draw on when transferring between language(s). According to Jim Cummins research of the “dual threshold”, academic abilities in one language are transferable to another. Therefore a student with advanced math skills in one language will have an easier time learning math in another language. However, since most of the Almadina curriculum is delivered in English, the home must play a major role in first or heritage language development and retention. As set out in the Alberta International Languages Guide, our public charter school may offer a maximum of 100 hours of the International Languages option.
As a student begins to acquire a second language, a language “iceberg” of daily words emerges above the “water line”. The student initially struggles with the surface features of the second language (e.g. pronunciation, common greetings, acquiring the first 2500 words), but underneath the iceberg, there is a common underlying proficiency factor (CUP). The human brain is hard at work trying to make “order” out of “disorder”. It uses this common underlying proficiency, thought by linguists to be “hard-wired” in the human genetic makeup, to transfer and translate all that is already developed in the first language (L1) to efficiently learn the second language (L2).
A.  Students with a weak first language proficiency and English dominant second language students with a weak first language proficiency have fewer resources from which to draw when learning a second language. English must become their dominant language for communication, thought and for completing academic work at school. Keeping both languages growing puts an enormous pressure on the student. They must develop new ideas and thoughts in the new L2 language that is still not fully under control. A L2 student requires a great deal of differentiated teaching and learning approaches. Teachers who are aware of a student’s first language proficiency level can help the student deal with stress and challenges of acquiring a second language. First language teachers have to work closely with the regular sheltered classroom teachers. At Almadina the L1 and L2 teachers use the same planning and teaching tools. They are encouraged to work collaboratively and use common tools such as graphic organizers and visual aids. Lesson plans need to be structured and instructional strategies need to differentiated and scaffolded.

B.  Students who have more first language proficiency can generally learn the second language more efficiently and quickly. They can often be strategic and translate what they already know in their first language, into English – the second language. Over time, the second language should begin to approach the level of the first language, given instructional support to reach this goal, resulting in full and balanced bilingualism. Parents who want their students to maintain proficiency in both languages are reminded of the need to plan holidays and visits to the child’s country of origin during the summer.

Students of different ages learn in different ways. Younger students under the age of 8, though still needing structured support to learn L2, seem to acquire the pronunciation and patterns of daily grammar naturally. They achieve Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) seemingly effortlessly through play, television, and active engagement with the language through meaningful learning tasks that are designed for the specific goals of acquiring BICS. Students of this age have little usable first language proficiency that they can transfer into academic studies. Beyond the BICS level, these students often find L2 development to be a struggle. Their parents are often confounded by this plateau effect because the children speaks well and appear to be fluent in English, though only at a conversational level. These students require on-going support and more time to develop L2. Remember that the academic words for a subject are specialized and prove challenging for the native speaker. Older students between ages 8 to 11, have just enough L1 proficiency useful to transfer to the task of acquiring literacy in the second language. These students also have time on their side. With proper support, the majority of these students should acquire sufficient English language proficiency to be successful with academic work at school. Their first language often falls behind over the years. They maintain enough L1 for conversational and family discourse purposes, and socializing with first language friends.
Students between the ages of 1 to 15 have not developed full linguistic maturity in their first language. Students who immigrate to Canada at this age are highly disadvantaged. They must learn a condensed volume of new content area materials and concepts in English at the junior high level at the same time they are learning basic English. These students often require extensive English language support for more than 3 years in order to compete academically in senior high school. They are chasing a “moving target” in attempting to keep pace with their native English speaking peers, as well as keeping up to the high volume of academic assignments. This is challenging and unfortunately, these are the most disadvantaged students.

Newly arrived students over the age of 15 have the advantage of possessing rich linguistic and cognitive resources in L1 to draw on and to transfer into English, assuming they have been fully schooled and are proficient at grade level in L1. They can see language as an object of study in itself, and can use metacognitive/reflective strategies to advance their L2 development. They can benefit from some direct grammar explanations and exposure to idioms. These students often are acutely aware of the need to learn English quickly for educational purposes or for reasons of finding suitable work. For these reasons, they are often self-motivated and disciplined to study English. If they have acquired some English (i.e. to an Intermediate level) in their first language school experience in their homeland, these students often can excel academically.

For younger students, English tends to take over as the dominant language for daily thought and academic work at school. Many of these students need to maintain at least conversational proficiency in the first language in order to communicate with the older generation of caregivers (e.g. grandparents), or even their parents, who many not acquire English language proficiency in Canada. For many of these children, a certain level of L1 proficiency is central to their socio-cultural identity within their ethnic community. Almadina offers a nurturing environment for maintaining conversational L1 skills informally, and also through its International Languages option. However, full bilingualism is not the goal for these students.

Older students who have developed literacy skills and have the ability to use their first language proficiency directly to advance L2 development can benefit from maintaining and enhancing their first language by way of the up to one hundred hour option through the International Languages program. Full bilingualism is a desirable outcome but not a realistic goal for many of the students at Almadina.

Absolutely. The danger for many young L2 learners is incomplete language development in both languages, or what may be thought of as impoverished bilingualism. Many of these children struggle at school, especially in grades 4 to 6 where there is a greater emphasis on content learning, and language acquisition is assumed. They tend to fall farther and farther behind. They are often found in special education classes and non-academic programs. They tend to experience failure and will likely “dropout” of school.

Bussing

To check the status of your child’s
school bus, please contact
Cardinal Coach Lines Ltd.

  • (403) 531-3900
Advise your child to speak to the bus driver.
Then to speak to the principal if the problem is not resolved.
In the Family Zone system you can sign up for bus delay notifications that come through on your cell/mobile phone. Login and look for Bus Subscriptions on the right side and sign up.
The bus services the following communities:

  • Albert Park
  • Abbeydale
  • Applewood
  • Castleridge
  • Coral Spring
  • Dover
  • Dover Glen
  • Erin Woods
  • Falconridge
  • Fonda
  • Forest Lawn
  • Marlborough
  • Marlborough Park
  • Martindale
  • Mayland Heights
  • Monterey Park
  • Penbrooke
  • Pineridge
  • Radisson Heights
  • Rundle
  • Saddleridge
  • Southview
  • Taradale
  • Temple
  • Vista Heights
  • West Dover
  • Whitehorn

Uniform

Yes, uniforms are mandatory. Almadina is a uniform school and all students must wear their uniforms unless otherwise permitted.