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IB Diploma Programme Language Policy
Gimnazija Kranj is committed to supporting multilingualism as fundamental to increasing intercultural understanding and international-mindedness. With this language policy Gimnazija Kranj provides a framework that will ensure that the IB’s values and aims in relation to multilingualism and access are reflected in the organization’s activities.
Learners accessing an IB programme in a language other than their mother tongue are potentially able to become balanced bilinguals who are highly proficient, literate and knowledgeable in two or more languages. Language is central to learning. All teachers are language teachers, all students are studying languages when learning. Gimnazija Kranj is situated in a monocultural and monolingual society with very few small social groups of other national or cultural backgrounds. Classrooms are mostly monocultural. The challenge of Gimnazija Kranj is to offer the Gorenjska region a unique, open-minded international educational programme in order to implement global awareness, . IB school documents are at hand in English, important documents are translated in Slovene. Slovene students have a good knowledge foundation of foreign languages and the transition into a syllabus delivered in English is mostly very successful. Gimnazija Kranj supports the cultural and linguistic diversity.
Mother tongues (Language A) offered by Gimnazija Kranj (learner course choices):
o Italian (self-taught)
o Hungarian (self-taught)
o Other languages (self-taught)
Second languages (Language B) offered by Gimnazija Kranj (learner course choices):
The respect and care for the mother tongue is essential to the educational philosophy of Gimnazija Kranj in the national programme and IB Diploma Programme. Students are informally assessed on the levels of their knowledge and ability to use English as the language of instruction. The Gimnazija Kranj Admission Committee seeks advice also by the Slovene and English teachers of the IB candidates in order to adequately evaluate students’ previous language knowledge. Gimnazija Kranj stimulates language learning to support personal, learning and cognitive growth. Students and their parents are actively involved in the learner course choice. Students and parents are encouraged to participate in the creation of individual programmes for learning languages. The school organizes events to introduce the language policy and language courses to parents.
The teaching and learning languages in the IB Diploma Programme at Gimnazija Kranj are English and Slovene, all teachers and students are native Slovene speakers. Language A Slovene is offered as the main mother tongue at Gimnazija Kranj. Other Language A courses are possible as a self-taught language. Support classes or individual tutoring for Slovene ab initio for students with no prior exposure to Slovene language may be offered, if necessary. Language B English is a compulsory course for all students. Language B German, Spanish, French or Russian is offered as the second Language B option.
The school promotes bilingualism, where the other languages do not replace the mother tongue.
Slovene and English are the working languages, the languages of instruction and the languages of the course in the IB Diploma Programme at Gimnazija Kranj. The response language is English in all courses and the adequate mother tongue in the Language A course.
There are several activities that take place at Gimnazija Kranj which foster the students towards retaining a positive attitude towards their mother tongue and foreign languages. Students can develop knowledge and fluency in their mother tongue and also acquire knowledge of diverse foreign languages.
o Students are preparing poetry public readings and are engage in diverse cultural groups at school and in the local community (theatre, cultural clubs, student clubs …).
o Students are encourage to take extracurricular language courses offered by school, such as Latin, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, German, Spanish, French, Russian. Gimnazija Kranj organizes courses for national and international language competitions and book reading in different languages.
o The foreign teacher for English runs the English book and reading club for students.
o Regular exhibitions created by students on their language experience are presented at the school.
o Travel trips, excursions, lectures in Slovenia in abroad.
The mother tongue of all teachers at Gimnazija Kranj is Slovene. The school enables teachers to study English, as it is the official IB teaching language at our school, in diverse language courses in Slovenia and abroad. Gimnazija Kranj is part of the Slovenian educational project Foreign Teacher and within the sphere of this project foreign teachers (native speakers) for English and Spanish are located at Gimnazija Kranj. The role of the foreign teacher is to support language teachers in the classroom, to support students and to offer consultations for teachers who want or need to improve their knowledge, literacy, communicational and writing skills in English or Spanish. IB teachers are offered individual and group consultations from the English foreign teacher.
According to the Gimnazija Kranj Admission Policy every year 22 students are enrolled into the IB Diploma Programme. The Slovenian educational policy anticipates enrolment of all EU citizens and Slovenian students without school fee. When foreign students are admitted Gimnazija Kranj ensures accessibility of their mother tongues. Most students are Slovenians and the IB Diploma Programme is delivered in English with essential terminology, concepts and parts of the syllabus translated and delivered in Slovene. Slovenian educational policy for the IB diploma Programme understands English and Slovene as equal languages in delivering the syllabus. Students have the right to be taught in both languages.
The role of teachers is to:
o Recognize that students my not necessarily all share the same previous learning and background knowledge.
o Explicitly activate learners’ prior understanding using the mother tongue if appropriate.
o Use their knowledge of learners’ prior understanding to differentiate tasks and activities that will. build up the further background knowledge necessary for new learning to occur.
o Record information in learner profiles that will support planning for future differentiation.
o Consider the time and strategies necessary for activating and building up background knowledge when planning a unit of work or lesson.
o Develop strategies for progressive and effective language learning (scaffolding, gradual building of language, knowing and understanding of sophisticated concepts and texts, language in arts and sciences).
o Consider a short- and long-term curriculum planning in order to create effective teaching strategies.
o Language teachers recommend the language course and level according to previous performance.
o offer students to express their knowledge in their mother tongue (peer to peer discussions, group work, clarification of the terminology that is in English)
The role of the foreign teacher for English:
The teaching and learning language at Gimnazija Kranj is English and Slovene. English is not the mother tongue for the majority of our students. The foreign teacher is responsible:
o To give extra instructions of English language for students in order to improve and support students’ learning experience.
o Organizes regular meetings with interested students. The foreign teacher improves their conversation and writing skills
o To help students to improve their English writing skill, when creating their written assignment.
o Teachers are encouraged to contact the foreign teacher, when they have difficulties to cope with the language demands of their DP course.
o Organizes English courses for teachers of Gimnazija Kranj every year.
The role of the librarian is to:
o assures provision of printed and electronic sources
o supports the use of literary texts in all languages
o organizes workshops for students and teachers for academic honesty (referencing styles, writing styles)
Language is integral to exploring and sustaining personal development, cultural identity and intercultural understanding. As well as being the major medium of social communication, it is tightly linked to cognitive growth because it is the process by which meaning and knowledge is negotiated and constructed. It is the main tool for building our knowledge of the universe and our place in it. Language then, is central to learning, as well as to literacy, and is thus closely related to success in school. As a result of the global population’s increasing mobility, many learners in schools are constructing knowledge in a language that is not their mother tongue. A language profile of any one of these learners may demonstrate two or more languages in his or her learning continuum. This situation has created new challenges for learners, teachers and schools who, in the past, have assumed a common monolingual, monocultural setting. Various responses to these challenges, together with prolific research, have resulted in a wealth of expertise on good practices that nurture the valuable diversity of multilingual and multicultural classrooms to its full potential in developing internationally minded people.
At some point a child has enough language so that in addition to it being a communicative tool, it is also a flexible resource for further learning and cognitive growth. Language itself, rather than direct concrete experience, can be used to negotiate new meanings and construct knowledge about the world. Literacy becomes increasingly important in doing this as more abstract learning takes place through dense academic texts in school. The ability to access the language of these texts is referred to as a cognitive academic language proficiency or CALP by Cummins (1979). For some learners in IB programmes, the language in which they are learning and developing their CALP is not the same as their mother tongue and this has implications for school organization as well as classroom practice. Depending on age and experience, for example, some learners may have a wealth of knowledge in a language other than that of the classroom. However, it can take up to seven years for learners who are using a language other than their mother tongue to attain the same levels in academic language proficiency as those expected for learners learning in a mother tongue.
o Learning in a language other than mother tongue in IB programmes, International Baccalaureate organization, published April 2008
o Guidelines for developing a school language policy, International Baccalaureate Organization, published April 2008
o Developing academic literacy in IB programmes, International Baccalaureate Organization, published April 2014
Head of Gimnazija Kranj Franc Rozman
IB Diploma Programme coordinator Nataša Kne
IB Diploma Programme Language A Slovene teacher Barbara Logar
IB Diploma Programme Language B English teacher Biba Kodek
Foreign teacher William J. Tomford