Q&A on IB DP Language Acquisition with Luna Deller

Jasween Gill
Published on
October 12, 2021

All students must take a second language in the IB Diploma Programme. Recently, we interviewed Luna Deller, Head of Academic Operations, Senior Coordinator - Secondary, Grade 10 Tutor and French Teacher, about the language acquisition in the IB DP at OWIS.

During our interview, Luna discussed the value and benefit of the IB DP language acquisition programme and how students can pick the language they would like to study. The information she shared is beneficial for any student hoping to make the most of their IB DP education.

How does OWIS teach languages to IB DP students?

We have a robust language acquisition programme at OWIS. We offer three languages - Mandarin, Spanish and French - at different levels. If you haven’t studied them before, and you'd like to try a new language from scratch, you can do that at ab initio level. Ab initio is Latin for from the beginning. If you take ab initio, that means everybody in your course is taking the language from scratch.

Otherwise, if you have already studied these languages before, you could choose to take Mandarin, French or Spanish as the language B programme. You could take that at either the Higher Level or at Standard Level. 

All language programmes at OWIS look at language from a communicative approach. We are trying to ensure that our students can use the language in context and communicate with people from those countries. At levels higher than ab initio, there's also a focus on literature. All of the OWIS IB DP language courses also look at the communities where the languages are spoken and look at the authentic contexts around those languages.

How does language instruction fit into the IB DP?

Everybody in the IB Diploma Programme must take a second language. The reason for that is because languages allow us to discover so much about the world around us. Obviously, they enable us to communicate with other people in other communities, but there is more to it.

Learning a language allows us to find out about historical and social events around the world. They also allow our students to look into and explore the world of business and provide many opportunities in terms of future careers.

All of our language teachers at OWIS are trained and experienced in the IB DP. The approach that they take to language learning at the DP level is to guide the students, find out about their own strengths and weaknesses, and ensure that they are fully supported to access all aspects of the language programme.

How is progress measured in the IB DP language classes?

The IB DP programme for Language Acquisition is exam-based. So, that means at the end of the two years, a series of examinations will take place. These are marked externally. There is a spoken aspect of the examination, which takes place here in school, with your class teacher. But the other aspects are all written and listening examinations, just like you probably would have in your other subjects, and you might have faced already in the IGCSE.

How should students choose the language?

Many parents and students ask about how to choose the language that they are going to take in the IB DP. It is really important for any of the programmes that you take at this level that a student fully arms themselves with a good understanding of what they will be expected to do and chooses a course that they feel comfortable with and passionate about. Two years is a long time.

Also important to keep in mind is that the depth of study at the IB Diploma level is significant. At the end of this programme, any language learner should be able to come out of it comfortably able to communicate with a level of fluency.

So with that in mind, I think it is really important for you to think about languages that you have already studied, and whether you want to take those to the next level - or whether you think that you have perhaps seen enough of that language and you have taken it as far as you think you can go.

So, when making that choice, just think very, very carefully about what is best for you and what you would be most comfortable studying for that two-year programme. Also, ask yourself: what would be more beneficial to you in terms of where you want to live in the future, the employment you might want to take in the future and university courses that are open to you as well.

Thank you, Luna, for explaining the language acquisition programme for Grades 11-12 IB DP students and parents.

Did you know our OWIS campus is full of caring teachers who want to make a difference in the lives of our students? See for yourself what it's like to attend OWIS - contact us to schedule a tour.


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Jasween Gill

Admissions & Communications Director

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