Four years ago, the Mlf (Mission Laïque Française) and the IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization) signed an agreement to develop a customized IB Diploma program that would better showcase the strong bilingual profile of the students who graduate from the French bilingual schools abroad.
Inspired by the exceptional profile of DIS students, Headmaster Bertrand Ferret coordinated with the IB leadership on the design of this unique enhancement of the traditional bilingual IB diploma. It was named the Advanced Bilingual IB Diploma, and implemented under the leadership of DIS IB Coordinator Laura Margan as a pilot program in 2016.
This was especially done with the DIS student body in mind. Unlike other local IB programs, DIS’s enrollment consists of diverse and culturally strong students. Many already speak a minimum of two languages, which made this advanced bilingual diploma a natural fit for them.
This diploma, which combines the universally recognized demanding nature of the classic IB diploma with a high level of mastery of the English and French languages, will now be offered at DIS indefinitely, due to the recent decision by the IB to permanently validate the program.
Jennifer Kim, the college counselor at DIS, sees the value of the Advanced Bilingual IB Diploma in her everyday work with students.
“First, this diploma is offered in only a few schools worldwide, so it is a privilege to have a chance at this opportunity,” Kim said. “Second, I think successful completion of this diploma validates one’s language proficiency in two languages since it requires that students take two languages in the native level, plus a non-language course in the second language.
“Typically, this level of work requires higher cognitive function and ability because it’s taxing to constantly switch between two languages,” she said. “However, once they become fully bilingual, their brain becomes more resilient and fluid, and there are many other long-term benefits.”
Kim said that these advanced linguistic skills developed through the diploma will help students throughout their lives.
“Language skill is a lifetime skill,” she said. “Research shows that bilingual people have better attention, empathy and meta-linguistic awareness, which all lead to better school performance and engagement. Colleges that are in favor of bilingual education and are aware of the benefits of the bilingual brain would see our students more favorably if their performance shows well on their transcript and tests.
“Research also shows that people who speak multiple languages have more job opportunities and are promoted faster in an organization,” she said. “All in all, students who go through this track will have higher cognitive functioning and theory of mind as a result of this rigorous training, which will help them successfully navigate in college.”
Though all students at DIS learn additional languages starting in pre-K, Kim said that the Advanced Bilingual IB Diploma significantly enriches students’ language abilities.
“Bilingual people have an easier time learning a third and fourth language,” she said. “Their brain is wired in a way that makes people more aware of how language works in general. This is why DIS students are able to handle three or more languages in their curriculum, which is pretty impressive.”
Overall, Kim believes that the permanent offering of the Advanced Bilingual IB Diploma will be a great benefit for students.
“The Advanced Bilingual IB Diploma is an excellent option for students,” she said. “This track allows them to have the flexibility of choosing their courses, while still continuing their French language. Students in the program also exhibit more confidence and positive self-image because they know that this is a very challenging program.”
DIS will be honored to welcome IB general director Siva Kumari to the Waterview campus next week as a finalization of this process. Truly, through this program, DIS has been recognized for its efforts and innovative spirit on a global level.