- What makes an education international?
- What does an international education look like?
- What is an “international school”?
- What is Inquiry-based learning?
- What is “cross-curricular”?
- What is a dual language education?
- What is an immersion program?
- What is 50/50 or 90/10, etc.?
- What is the difference between bilingual and dual language?
- What are ELL, ESL, ESOL and other acronyms referring to languages?
- What is “target language”?
- What is content-based language teaching?
- What is the Learner Profile?
- What are PYP, MYP and DP?
- What is IB Certificate, IB DP Candidate or IB DP Holder?
What makes an education international?
Programs, students, faculty! A school cannot be truly international unless a real effort is made to offer a program which includes globalism and international-mindedness as a genuine and integral part of its offerings.
What does an international education look like?
Display material, languages heard in the hallways, classroom discussions that focus on global issues are all features of an internationally minded school. In addition, students’ coursework should have, to the maximum extent possible, global themes which help develop in the students a genuine sense of being part of an international community. There is no attempt to belittle any person’s language, ethnic, cultural or national background. On the contrary, all students should be helped to a deep understanding of their own heritage so that they can be contributors both to their home countries and the global community of nations.
- National Schools Overseas – The British School of Chicago, Singapore American School, Le Lycee Francais de Londres are good examples of this category. In this case the school offers the curriculum of the country of origin, but is based in an overseas country. Many of the students are from the country of origin, but enrollment usually includes significant numbers of students from the host country as well as third country nationals.
- Local schools offering an international program, almost invariably the International Baccalaureate. In the United States these are mostly public schools, but do also include some independent schools. In France, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and China there are also government schools that fall into this category, but in most of the rest of the world these are usually independent schools. Examples of this kind of school are Pensacola High School (Florida, government run) Sevenoaks School (UK, independent) Middle School 55, Beijing (China, government run) St. Georges School (Argentina, independent).
- Schools that genuinely seek out an international student body, with a truly international faculty, and offer only an international curriculum such as the IB. These are mostly independent schools. Examples include Atlanta International School and the United World Colleges in various countries. Many of these schools offer dual language programs as well.
What is Inquiry-based learning?
The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme is specifically based upon the theory of “inquiry-based” learning. The Middle Years and Diploma Programmes continue this approach to a point, but do also include elements of a more traditional approach as students near their final assessments.
The general philosophy is that students learn in greater depth when they are a central part of the process, and teachers can support them by creating an atmosphere in which the child’s natural curiosity can lead to the acquisition and use of knowledge. For the teacher this means setting the scene, developing thematic approaches which cross traditional curricular lines, and using a wide variety of assessment vehicles designed to determine what the student knows and how the student can use that knowledge to solve problems. This is far removed from traditional assessment vehicles which are generally designed to ascertain what a child does not know.
What is “cross-curricular”?
A cross- or trans-curricular approach means going beyond the division of the curriculum into individual subjects, and working with the students to help them use the full range of knowledge to solve problems. An example might be “the rainforest”. In a more traditional setting a project on the rainforest would include study of the rainforest in itself as part of a Humanities/Social Studies course. In a cross-curricular setting, the entire range of school subjects would be used when considering this issue. So math would be specifically involved as students consider the annual decline in the world’s rainforest areas, or the number of trees that are being destroyed. Science during this period would focus on the ecology of the rainforest and its impact on the world. Language Arts would focus on appropriate literature from countries with large areas of rainforest – children’s stories from the Amazon or Congo river basins, for example. Art, music and drama during this period of study would all focus on the rainforest.
What is a dual language education?
The term “dual language education” refers to a system whereby a child spends time learning through the medium of two languages of instruction. For the most part, the term is used to describe programs in elementary schools (see the next three answers for more information). In Secondary Schools, where the approach is more subject-based, then it would mean that some subjects are offered in two languages, with the students being able to choose their own language of instruction for the various subject areas.
What is an immersion program?
In an elementary school immersion program, students are fully immersed in the language of instruction, as opposed to the traditional approach of teaching the language as a subject in itself. Such programs are widespread in many countries, and there is a significant body of research which indicates that children in such programs generally out-perform their peers in all subjects in traditional single language programs. The next answer describes in more detail the kinds of immersion programs.
What is 50/50 or 90/10, etc.?
These classifications refer to the percentage of time that students spend immersed in each of the two languages min a dual language program.
50/50 means that students spend 50% of their time in each language, covering the entire curriculum through the medium of both languages. Students learn to read, write, and do math, social studies and science in both languages. This means that basic literacy and numeracy skills are developed in both languages. For science and social studies both languages will be used, but the teachers will decide which aspects of a given subject are to be taught in each language. For example, in First Grade science, children may do a project involving growing seeds in small pots in one language, and then later do a project involving melting ice in the other language. In cases like this it is the development of the scientific base which is important, and it falls to the faculty to see that both languages are used in a non-repetitive way as this science base is developed.
In a 90/10 situation, students spend 90% of their time in the target (i.e. non-native) language, and 10% in their mother tongue. This approach is widely used in French immersion programs in English-speaking parts of Canada. The norm in these cases is for the 90/10 approach to be followed for the first three years of education (Kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2), during which time students will develop their basic literacy and numeracy proficiencies in their non-native language. From Grade 3 – 5 the students will switch to a 50/50 program, either immediately or gradually over the three year period. Research in Canada for English-speaking children learning to read initially in French is overwhelmingly positive. The transfer of their reading skills to their native language is accomplished seamlessly, and their ultimate reading skills in English as shown on nationwide tests is higher than for those students who had been in a traditional English-only language school setting
What is the difference between bilingual and dual language?
Outside the United States, the terms are pretty much interchangeable. However, in the United States, the term “bilingual education” has taken on a very different meaning. In most states “bilingual” programs have come to mean “teach them in their own language until their English is good enough” and then they can be mainstreamed into English. The problem with this approach is that if their own language (most often Spanish) is the language of the home, TV, friends (inside and outside school) and neighbors then there is a very real danger that they will never develop good levels of English. On the other hand, students who are in a 50/50 setting are obliged to learn to speak, read and write in BOTH languages, thereby making them genuinely bilingual.
- ELL = English Language Learners
- ESL = English as a Second Language
- ESOL = English for Speakers of Other Languages
Of these, perhaps ESL is the most inappropriate, because for many children English may be their third or fourth language. Also inappropriate is the now rarely-used EFL (English as a Foreign Language) because most language people tend to avoid use of the word “foreign”. After all what is “foreign” to one person is mother tongue to another. Preferred terms nowadays are “World Languages” or “Modern Languages”. The term LOTE (Languages other than English) is widely used in Australia and other countries.
What is “target language”?
The term “target language” is used to describe the language in which the system is aiming to develop proficiency. In English-speaking Canada, for example, the target language in French.
What is content-based language teaching?
Content-based language teaching refers to the use of a non-native language as the language of instruction in a regular subject class. For example, in an English-medium school, a History class taught in French would qualify as a content-based course. In dual language elementary schools, where math, science, social studies are all taught through the target language, these are also deemed to be “content-based”.
What is the Learner Profile?
The Learner Profile was developed by the International Baccalaureate to list ten attributes that students should develop progressively as they pursue studies in IB programs. These are as follows:
What are PYP, MYP and DP?
The International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) is for students from Pre-School or Kindergarten through the end of their Primary Education, generally considered to be Grade 5. It is a framework which is built around “Units of Inquiry” which set the scene for the development of age-appropriate skills and knowledge and encourages students to explore and use the knowledge that they are acquiring. All students are required to study a second language from (at the very latest) age 7.
The International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP) is a curricular framework for students in their Middle Years (generally age 11 – 16, or Grades 6 – 10). It requires study in eight disciplines around a core of “Areas of Interaction” whereby students examine the interconnectedness of knowledge in general and their specific areas of study.
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (DP) is a pre-university course for students in their final two years of high school education (Grades 11 and 12). Students are required to undertake six specific subjects which include two languages, mathematics, science and humanities. Their sixth subject can either be a fine/performing arts subject or a second subject from one of the other categories. Three of the subjects will be taken at “Higher Level” and three at “Standard Level”. In addition to these courses, students are obliged to take a course known as Theory of Knowledge, undertake identifiable programs of Creativity, Action and Service, and to complete a 4,000 word research paper. The IB is recognized as a university entrance qualification in virtually every country in the world. In the United States students are almost invariably granted advanced placement for their IB studies.
What is IB Certificate, IB DP Candidate or IB DP Holder?
These all refer to International Baccalaureate Diploma candidates. If students successfully complete the course of studies outlined in the previous answer they receive the International Baccalaureate Diploma and will become a DP Holder.
A DP candidate is a student in Grade 11 or 12 who is preparing to take the full range of assessments in all subject areas with a view to obtaining the IB Diploma. Students who undertake only individual subjects in an IB program, or who fail to meet the grading criteria to receive the full IB Diploma, will be granted an IB Certificate for each individual subject in which they achieved a successful final grade.