The best of all worlds – an attractive alternative to those caught in the middle

The bilingual program at Institut Sankt Joseph in Copenhagen opens up a world of opportunities for its students

This August, Institut Sankt Joseph, a private Catholic school located in the Østerbro district of Copenhagen, launched the first fully international bilingual program of its kind in Denmark. The school’s bilingual model incorporates two curricula: half of the weekly lessons are taught in English (English, maths and science) and the other half are taught in Danish (Danish, religion, art and history). 

“There was a need for a program designed to offer the academic quality and transferability of Cambridge International Examinations while simultaneously providing a framework for the possibility of authentic integration and internationalisation,” said Thomas Mulhern, the school’s international department head. 

Bilingual and multicultural
Institut Sankt Joseph believes that its bilingual approach to an international education is distinct not only from Danish schools, but other international programs in the area, and that it offers an attractive alternative to both Danish and expat children who often find themselves stuck in between systems due to relocation or a lack of authentic integration possibilities. 

“Families are left to choose between a ‘normal’ Danish educational program – in which authentic internationalisation and maintaining or cultivating academic English skills is a true barrier – or must chose an international program where the language of instruction is exclusively or primarily in English,” said Mulhern. “These students and families never become fully integrated or reintegrated members of the Danish society in which they live.”

Mulhern said that the programme emphasises an intercultural pedagogical approach, in which students are not only encouraged to become academically bilingual, but also multicultural. 

Diversity and culture
Institut Sankt Joseph wants its students to experience diversity as a positive catalyst for understanding. This intercultural emphasis blends with the celebration of Danish traditions and an emphasis on the unique history and culture of Denmark. 

“The program is designed to precisely overcome the aforementioned barriers to successful internationalisation and integration,” said Mulhern. “The end product will be bilingual students who are equally prepared to attend a Danish gymnasium or an international high school.”

Students have access to an international curriculum and examination process. They are taught by native English speakers who are experienced in preparing students for the Cambridge International Examinations. Students navigate the key stages of the Cambridge international examinations process, which ultimately culminates in the IGCSE examinations for 15 to 16-year-olds. 

Becoming human
Mulhern said that Institut Sankt Joseph has a clear set of values that inform and ground the school culture. 
“The overall objective is that every child becomes equipped to take on the task of what it is to become human: in short, to become themselves,” he said. “Institut Sankt Joseph believes that its educational and formational project go hand in hand, both in the current educational manner the school operates, and in the international bilingual department.”

Institut Sankt Joseph has come a long way since its original founding in 1858 as a French-inspired all-girls school. The school’s leader believes the new international bilingual programme will continue the school’s long-held tradition of a Catholic-humanistic education that prepares students, both locally and abroad, for becoming positive members of society.  

“Institut Sankt Joseph believes that children should not be divided by linguistic and cultural differences, but united by the shared vision of the school,” said Mulhern.

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