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A Spotlight on the SSST: Bilingual Learning in your Mother Tongue

A Spotlight on the SSST: Bilingual Learning in your Mother Tongue

Silicon Valley International School (INTL) and the International Baccalaureate share a common mission to foster intercultural understanding and communication. Through our Chinese, French, and German bilingual programs, INTL nurtures the ability of our students to see the world from different perspectives. Learning through more than one language, students develop a deeper understanding of the viewpoints of different cultures and societies.

INTL is thrilled to highlight our mother tongue program through the Diploma Programme School-Supported Self-Taught (SSST) Literature A course at INTL. The SSST course allows students to pursue the Bilingual Diploma in English and another first language beyond our three main target languages of Chinese, French, and German. Currently, we have students pursuing the IB Bilingual Diploma in Spanish-English and Italian-English. Indeed, the SSST course is in its third year at our school and we have already had one student successfully graduate with the IB Bilingual Diploma having navigated this pathway.

The IB offers a wide range of languages through the SSST course and therefore a pathway to the Bilingual Diploma for students who have mother-tongue or heritage language reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills beyond our immersion programs. For example, this course is also available in Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Hebrew, Russian, Arabic, and many more languages from around the world.

A female student in class smiling during a class discussion.

Students in the SSST course are supported by the SSST Coordinator throughout their journey. The coordinator works with students to select their texts and charts a personalized course through the Diploma requirements. In addition, students are supported by a language tutor who is either provided directly by INTL or an external professional organization who specializes in supporting this course.

SSST literature students study nine works of literature over the two years of the Diploma Programme in the chosen language. These literary works, whilst being in accordance with the IB prescribed reading lists, can be from a wide range of times and places and allow students to explore both the literary heritage of the target language and also to study
works in translation.

In terms of assessment, students complete a guided literary analysis and a comparative literary analysis having studied the texts. These assessments require students to think deeply and critically about the readers, writers, and texts, as well as time and place as concepts, and to make intertextual comparisons.

As a window into their own heritage and identity, this course is an incredible opportunity for many of our students to develop as learners in our multicultural and bilingual setting at INTL.

INTL High School senior going over work with her language and literature teacher.

INTL has further supported the development of the SSST program by sending a member of our faculty for IB training on the course. Our SSST Coordinator attended a workshop at the Singapore International School in Hong Kong led by our partner organization which provides the school with language tutors for the course. The training was very well received and shed new light on best practices in supporting students through this unique educational journey.

In essence, the SSST Literature A course at INTL epitomizes the school's unwavering commitment to fostering a diverse, inclusive, and intellectually stimulating environment. It stands not just as a program but as a testament to the school's dedication to nurturing global citizens equipped with cultural empathy and a profound appreciation for the world's myriad narratives.

Fostering bilingual leaders with boundless futures.
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An International Baccalaureate education from preschool to high school.