Language proficiency for academic achievement in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (2014)

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Keira Ballantyne and Charlene Rivera—The George Washington University, Center for Equity and Excellence in Education

This study aimed to investigate the factors which enhance academic success for Diploma Programme (DP) candidates who are studying in school settings where examinations and instruction are not in the student’s mother tongue. The study employed a literature review, an analysis of demographic and performance data and a survey of 300 schools to explore practices related to second language instruction in DP schools. The population of second language learners in the DP grew by approximately half (51%) over the five years considered in this study (2008–2012). Findings indicate that candidates spoke as many as 207 mother tongues. Spanish was the most commonly spoken mother tongue, accounting for 20% of the second language candidates. In terms of academic performance, in the May examination session, second language learners generally performed better than the group of all students. In the November examination session, however, the group of all students generally outperformed second language candidates. The survey portion of the study suggests a need for additional resources for mother tongue instruction and that professional development should provide all teachers with preparation in academic language pedagogy, not only language teachers.

Research summary (PDF, 146 KB)

Full report (PDF, 2 MB)