Language learning & internationalism at UK boarding schools
It is no secret that Britain’s attitude towards learning foreign languages would have to be marked “could do better” if it had a school report. Arguably it was ever thus but sadly, in recent years, it has got worse. At too many state schools, children are permitted to drop their language learning in Year 9 and it can be hard to take more than one language to GCSE level, let alone in 6th Form.
True, many people across the globe have English as their second language but this is no excuse for native speakers to rely on it as the lingua franca. In our globalised society, with all its troubles as well as its benefits, how advantageous it is to be able to speak to others in their own language – for better understanding as well as simple courtesy.
Fortunately, modern language teaching, and therefore learning, is going strong in our UK boarding schools. Even if French, German and Spanish remain the staples, most can offer a wider range, often including Mandarin, up to GCSE level and beyond into 6th Form. In fact, at those schools which offer the IB, at least two languages are required in the Diploma’s core curriculum, with the option to take a third amongst the six possible subjects.
This is just one of the reasons popular universities recognise the IB Diploma as a particularly competitive qualification. In addition to the openness to learning developed by studying other languages, the IB programme is known for preparing students for university.
Its core elements mimic the way university students study their degree. Through tasks like the extended essay, for example, students practice skills like independent research, thinking laterally and creatively, and exploring subjects so they can shape their own opinions. Studying the IB Diploma Programme results in students who do not simply repeat what they have been told and memorise answers for their exams – they thoroughly understand what it means, why it is important and how their learnings fit within a global context. If they can also express what they have learnt, and their opinions on it, in (an)other language(s), so much the better!
If you are keen to develop your child’s international outlook via learning and languages, please contact us so we can help you find the right boarding school in England, Scotland or Wales.