Languages at BIS Hanoi - a British International School Tradition
Languages have always been an important part of the British independent school curriculum. In the 19th century, when fluency in French was essential for a career in diplomacy, Modern Foreign Languages became part of an ambitious student’s curriculum. By the early twentieth century, German had become an international language of importance in the fields engineering, medicine and diplomacy. Driven by diplomatic and scientific developments, French and German became the twin pillars of the British Modern Foreign Language curriculum. In this context language was viewed as a commercial tool.
Languages are also central to the International Baccalaureate curriculum. However, the philosophy behind learning multiple languages in the IB is not driven by commercial imperatives. Learning another language is central to understanding other cultures and ways of thinking. For the pioneers of the IB, constructing a common understanding of the world through shared languages, whilst celebrating linguistic diversity was important, if education was to be a progressive force in the world. Engaging with a range of languages was a medium for achieving this aim.
As a result of this progressive philosophy, language mastery is less important in the IBDP than language engagement; therefore, all IBDP students regardless of their ability are compelled to study a 2nd language in addition to studying in their native tongue.
BIS Hanoi Develops its Language Provision
At BIS Hanoi, we have embraced the best of the British independent and the IB education systems. We have hired additional MFL teachers to join Ms Rojas and Ms Ajenjo. These additional teachers will allow all students to have access to French and Spanish teaching throughout their schooling. We also continue to develop the quality of our “Language A” provision in Vietnamese, Korean and English.
Today, we hosted a conference for Korean teachers in the region. It was an opportunity to share best practice and build resources for our Korean students to access, next year. Later this month, we will host Heads of English from HCMC and Hanoi. Again, the focus will be on collaboration and sharing best practice to create the conditions for our students to master the languages they use most frequently.
Music Expresses that which cannot be said…
….and on which it is impossible to be silent, so reads a quotation on the walls of BIS Hanoi. Music is a wonderful language in itself and its message must have seemed especially sweet to our Key Stage 3 students, as they listened to bands and musical performances at our Blistonbury Festival. After a week of Key Stage 3 exams, we could not think of a better way than this for our students to relax and unwind. Congratulations to performers and students alike.
Tim Webb, Head of Secondary