Translating the International Baccalaureate in different educational contexts: The benefits of and constraints on teachers sharing a common lexicon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018, the International Baccalaureate (IB) has grown from seven schools in 1968 to a global education programme covering more than 5,000 schools across 153 countries. It is an influential manifestation of internationalisation, involving the movement of ideas and staff across borders through its curriculum. But the translation of some IB concepts and curriculum language is by no means linear. A 2017 study of IB Primary Years Programme teachers in Canada and Australia by the authors highlighted dilemmas in the use of key curriculum terms. While all teachers in the study acknowledged the strengths of the common IB language, teachers in Canada, for example, noted differences in the ways that they interpreted tolerance compared to their US counterparts. They argued that tolerance involved more than just acceptance, but a deeper openness to cultural difference. These variations of interpretation and translation existed despite similarity of teachers working within a common Euro-American (‘Western’) context and IB curriculum. The varied interpretation and translation of IB concepts such as tolerance has direct implications for how a kind of cosmopolitan hospitality is exercised by IB teachers. It raises questions about the language and meaning of the IB lexicon as well as the translatability of IB course content across different countries, or even by different teachers within the one school. Using the concepts of curriculum ownership and language of practice, this chapter then explores these and other practical implications for IB teachers and international education more broadly.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMigration, Education and Translation
Subtitle of host publicationCross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Human Mobility and Cultural Encounters in Education Settings
EditorsVivienne Anderson, Henry Johnson
Place of PublicationAbingdon uk
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780429291159
ISBN (Print)9780367260347
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameStudies in Migration and Dispora


  • cosmopolitan hospitality
  • International Baccalaureate
  • Primary Years Programme
  • curriculum
  • school leadership
  • curriculum ownership
  • language of practice

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