Q&A on IB DP English with Catherine Adler, OWIS’ Head of English

OWIS is a school that is dedicated to preparing students for life at university – and beyond. That’s why we teach the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme or IB DP. This programme is widely recognised as one of the most effective in the world, and students who graduate from the IB DP are critical thinkers who can evaluate texts, ask smart questions and explore academic subjects in-depth.

Recently, we sat down with OWIS’ Head of English, Catherine Adler. Catherine explained how the English courses at OWIS help prepare students for life beyond OWIS, at university and in their adult life.

She also spoke about her feelings about working at OWIS and the benefits of an English education under the IB DP system.

How does the IB DP Language and Literature course work at OWIS?

The IB DP Language and Literature course is an inquiry-based course that looks to build students’ capacity to critically look at texts and think in a more international way.

The course is spread over two years and focuses, as much of the IB does, on instilling a critical thinking approach and inquiry-based learning system. We look at a range of literary and non-literary texts and examine the deeper meaning of these through three different topics.

In the course of the class, we encourage the students to use their critical thinking skills to make observations and support their own opinion about the texts that they’re studying.

Two of the main skills we focus on building are the students’ linguistic skills and conceptual understanding.

How does OWIS help students with differing levels of ability?

There are two different pathways for this course. One is the standard level (SL), and the other is the higher level (HL). In both tracks, we cover the same things in terms of linguistic and conceptual skills, but the higher level includes greater depth and breadth through more texts. HL students also complete an extra assessment, which is the higher learning essay.

Both HL and SL students take paper one, which is a written essay analysis of unseen texts. Paper two for both is a comparative analysis of two works. There is also an individual oral presentation by the student on an inquiry topic on a global issue of their choice. HL students complete an additional coursework requirement, which is a 1200-1500 word essay done in class and externally moderated.

In what way does the OWIS IB DP prepare students for university?

At the end of their IB journey, students leave here with a readiness to look at the world critically and to think in terms of what an author brings to a certain text, whether it be literary or non-literary. In addition, students come out with their own responses to these sorts of texts. This will help them in their journey to university or wherever their next step may be.

You’re relatively new to the team at OWIS. How has your experience been so far?

I joined the school about 18 months ago, and before that, we actually had selected this school for our daughters. I feel very lucky that OWIS chose me to be part of their teaching team. It’s been a wonderful experience so far. The administration is very kind, and the other teachers are as well. I feel grateful to have landed here.

What’s your favourite thing about working at OWIS?

One of the wonderful things about the IB at OWIS is that it’s student-driven. We do have texts that we choose at the beginning of the year for our coursework, but we are able to bend and shape the course to suit an individual’s interests and needs. And because our school is so authentically diverse, it gives us a great opportunity to see different perspectives and different ideas based on the texts students study.

Thank you, Catherine, for giving an insight into our IB DP Language and Literature course.

Teachers like Catherine Adler make the OWIS campus what it is – a kind environment where students can thrive. To find out more about how OWIS and our teachers can benefit your child, contact us or set up a virtual tour.

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