There sits the paper that determines the fate of your IB… the paper with subject choices. You see those different language options, your head starts spinning over which language, or languageS to choose to take on for your diploma.
Many schools which teach IB students offer the option of applying for a bilingual international diploma, meaning the student must showcase confidence and proficiency in two different languages, meaning your courses will likely be split into two languages. Around 32% of diplomas granted are bilingual ones, suggesting almost 1/3 of international students are interested in doubling their language game!
As a bilingual student preparing for an IB in English and French, half of my 6 lessons are in English, and the other is in French.
What are the pros and cons of demonstrating your understanding in two languages?
Do two languages increase the difficulty of obtaining the diploma?
Is it really worth the extra struggle taking on two languages?
To actually be able to obtain a bilingual diploma, you must complete one of the following:
Take 2 language A’s, meaning as a primary language. Or you can take one of the 2 as a language A and the other as a language B, meaning as a foreign language, however, you must take one of your other subjects in the language you have as the language B.
Bilingual diplomas are a fantastic way to show off your capabilities of mastering two languages, it is a great source of evidence that proves how international and open-minded you really are. Everyone will, in addition, tell you that a proof of bilingualism is eye-catching and good to read on any university application, job resumé and so forth…
Moreover, taking on a second language may help you discover and immerse yourself into a completely new culture, with new knowledge and new literature, art and media to explore. For example, I myself am a Russian student preparing for my bilingual French and English diploma. With this new knowledge I am becoming more diverse and understanding of the french culture, which is pretty cool, as some would say. We currently live in a world that is getting more globalised with every passing day, multilingualism is highly valued and respected, as the skill-set of speaking several languages opens many doors for an individual!
On the other hand, there are some things to consider before signing that paper and proceeding with that bilingual diploma…
Unfortunately, there are opinions that state that the bilingual diploma is not worth the extra time, as there are many other possible was to denounce your language-knowing skills, like the IGCSE’s for the English language, or the DELF for French, or the IELTS and PET (the list can go on for a long time, believe me). All these separate language-testing examination methods are other convenient means to prove one’s multilingualism. So why do the bilingual IB when you have so many other options? Perhaps it is more intriguing and interesting to study other subjects, like the sciences or human sciences or the arts, in different languages, and the IB supports that! These other examinations are purely: “write a text in English” style.
Another consideration is the increased difficulty of pursuing a double language course. If you are more comfortable speaking Spanish than speaking English, it will bring up some hurdles. The goal here is no doubt to improve your English, but it will still introduce you to some challenges when studying English courses. Challenges are great to overcome! However, if you are highly uncomfortable with the extra effort, do take the time to rethink that bilingual diploma. From my personal experience as a bilingual IB student, I can tell you that you must be very comfortable speaking and learning in both languages to succeed.
In the end, there is no wrong decision here. One language may be enough for you, but if it isn’t, why not try two if you can?
Yesterday I learned that almost all countries in French with the feminine gender end with the letter “e”. Learning new things about two languages everyday can be quite amusing!