ISC went to Abu Dhabi for the IB Global Conference 2019!

While ISC students and teachers were preparing for the fall break, two ISC educators Ms. Navarre and Ms. Goetzke together with our expert on Multilingualism, Dr. Karin Martin, were ready to present at one of the most important conference of the IB world, in the United Arab Emirates. The conference welcomed 1,450 participants coming from all around the world, 46% of them were from Europe and 38% from the Middle-East. Let’s read everything about this experience, directly from the protagonists!

Karin Martin:
It was my third IB Conference after Rome 2014 and The Hague 2017, and the first IB Conference for my colleagues Ms. Navarre and Ms. Goetzke. We had the pleasure and the privilege to present the initial results of our collaboration. During my work on multilingualism and my teaching for the Intercultural Management (ICM) program at the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, I’ve always been fascinated by the ability of the students to learn quickly new languages, especially those who already have knowledge in other languages or grew up with different languages during their childhood. It is fascinating to observe the strategies they put into practice to deduct meaning in the new language.
I was investigating the “plurilinguistic competence” of my ICM students with the goal of helping them improve their writing skills in a foreign language. I want them to succeed in learning to write texts in Italian. As a matter of fact, I had a short discussion with Mr. Brightman (Director of ISC) at the beginning of the year, who told me that two ISC teachers were doing the same with their students: they were applying new methods and approaches to support ISC multilingual students succeed in learning to read and write in English. So, I met these teachers! We were working on the same topic, but in different contexts and with different students: I was looking for research data and they were looking for research studies to validate what they were putting into practice on a daily basis.

These brilliant teachers are applying a new approach to teach reading and writing to multilingual kids using Translanguaging. In line with the most recent insights from the field of Applied Linguistics, they decided to adopt the multicompetence lens, i.e. to acknowledge and take advantage of the plurilingual resources of students growing up with more than two languages. I’m observing and documenting the kids’ learning progress of writing and comparing it with the ability of my ICM (grown up) language learners.

We first had the chance to present our work during a workshop for teachers at the Kosovo Learning Summit in Prishtina in May 2019. We got very positive feedback and so we decided to apply for the IB Global Conference with the same topic. You can imagine our joy when we received an invitation letter by the IB Global Conference commission, telling us that our proposal was accepted!

So, we worked hard, we managed to integrate research data and practical tools and finally, we were ready to present in Abu Dhabi! The topic generated lots of interest among the audience, especially among those educators who works in school where the majority of the students do not speak the school language at home, as many kids at ISC. We had participants working in Seattle, in Arabic and in Chinese speaking countries and it was a pleasure to share our experience with them, and to listen to their concerns about teaching reading and writing. We now feel more confident in what we are doing and we know we are going in the right direction.

Jennifer Navarre: Presenting at the IB Conference in Abu Dhabi with Kathy and Karin was collaboration and teamwork at its finest. We utilized this forum to present and interact with other educators who were interested in learning about translanguaging in the Writing Workshop. Thank you to the International School of Carinthia for supporting us and we look forward to applying our research in the classroom.
Karin Martin: We still have a long journey to go, but this conference already gave us a positive feedback in terms of the relevance of the topic among IB and non-IB educators. We are so thankful to ISC and to CUAS for making this collaboration possible and for giving us the chance to join this important conference.

Thank you CIC for your interest in our experience in Abu Dhabi!

Photos provided by Karin Martin