IB World - January 2009
The IB World language issue was always likely to provoke interest, and it has turned out to be one of the liveliest debates the magazine has seen.
As the highly readable linguist Steven Pinker points out in his recent book The Stuff Of Thought, children have a remarkable capacity to learn languages: they unconsciously pick up on grammatical nuances that are absurd when explained, and build a vocabulary independent of the words they are taught through official channels.
All of which ought to make the language teacher’s job simple. Yet the myriad backgrounds of the students in many IB World Schools opens up a raft of new challenges, of which how to balance mother tongue with the first language of the host nation is just one. We sought perspectives from teachers, the IB’s academic staff and two of the world’s most influential and opinionated linguists.
Deborah Tannen offers advice on bias in the way we speak and the power of language to change difficult situations. As she has made clear, and the IB philosophy recognizes, language isn’t just about learning a new set of words from a different culture: it affects every interaction we have, and this means it permeates every part of education and every teacher’s role.
Robert Jeffery, editor
January 2009 Articles
Best-selling linguist Dr Deborah Tannen believes teachers can benefit from thinking more about the words they choose in the classroom
Language-learning reaches beyond the use of words to impact on culture, identity and international-mindedness. Laura Bridgestock discovers how the global IB community is responding to the challenges of a changing linguistic landscape
Language is central to the IB philosophy, but what’s the best way to teach it? Here are four different perspectives on learning from across the globe
Professor Jim Cummins is bringing his three decades of experience as a hands-on educational linguist to the new IB language policy – which means the future is in safe hands, as Crispin Andrews discovers.
The language is the learning
The IB sees language as more than just a way of communicating. Carol Inugai-Dixon, language and learning manager, and Andrew Flory, subject area manager, groups 1&2 (languages), explain:
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