UWC - educational policy, CLIL and LA

United World Colleges were selected as a case study for several reasons. First, they are represented on a truly global scale, that is, on four continents. They are also closely connected with the beginnings of the IB programme - UWC Atlantic College was the first school to abandon the national curriculum in favour of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB DP). More importantly, however, our previous research (Quinn Novotna, Grosser and Dunkova 2013) shows that UWCs represent an 'ideal' environment for a multitude of forms, varieties and functions of English to take shape and flourish. There are 12 UWCs worldwide providing education for students from over 140 countries. Thus, they represent a wide range of nationalities, mother tongues, cultures and social backgrounds. UWCs support such values as 'international and intercultural understanding' and 'celebration of difference,' which we believe 'resonate with the intellectual background of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) as discussed by ELF researchers' (Quinn Novotna, Grosser and Dunkova 2013: 51-52). The admission process to the colleges is designed to provide equal chances to students from all socio-economic backgrounds and is mostly carried out through national committees, which evaluate candidates against core selection criteria reflecting the local context of each candidate. UWC students live a residential life at their colleges and UWCs charge tuition fees for which needs-based scholarships are available. All UWC colleges offer accommodation and the students live at the schools for the whole time of their studies. The educational programmes include organised extracurricular activities, exchanges and community and volunteer programmes. In line with general IB principles, UWC policy stresses the importance of socialisation and the building up of social relationships within a multinational and multilingual community. The importance of this social policy for language learning will be discussed in the section on Extensive language exposure.

Our previous research (Quinn Novotna, Grosser and Dunkova 2013) showed that UWCs provide a typical Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) educational approach, which is characterised by an equal focus on content and language and an emphasis on multilingual and multicultural education including elements of language immersion programmes (see Coyle, Hood and Marsh 2010; Dalton-Puffer, Nikula and Smit 2010; Georgiou 2012). In relation to Coyle et al.'s typologies of CLIL, UWCs belong to a 'Model B2' (2010: 21) because of its link to international certification (in our case the IB diploma). Our previous research also highlighted the role of language awareness (LA) at the UWCs, understood as increased sensitivity towards language and the ability to reflect upon language use, culture, creativity and meaning (see James and Garret 1991; Carter 2003; Andrews 2007; Edmondson 2009). We concluded that both these areas (CLIL and LA) were specific to UWCs but were potentially transferable to similar institutions.

ELF usage at UWC - qualitative analysis

Our survey-based research1 was designed to focus on student and teacher attitudes to ELF usage in relation to CLIL and LA at UWCs. The mix of languages and nationalities of UWCs highlighted by the survey is shown in Tables 9.1 and 9.2 below, which illustrate the background data from 9 UWCs. The numbers of teachers and students who responded to the survey is set out in Table 9.1 and their demographic data in Table 9.2.

The tables suggest that the English spoken in the UWC context is a prime example of ELF in a multilingual environment - the 315 students who participated in the survey had 87 different nationalities and spoke 71 declared mother tongues.

 
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