Globalization has both propelled COVID-19 into a pandemic that restricts movement and given us safe ways around such restrictions through technology. Students unable to spend time overseas are still able to get the education they had been planning on thanks to globalized online platforms and virtual international learning programs.
In countries like Germany, Spain and Italy, students can take US high school courses from their computer at home, or anywhere with an Internet connection. If they successfully complete the international program alongside their local schooling, they obtain a dual diploma recognized both in their home country and the United States.
Already before the pandemic – based on the high interest in an American education coupled with rising exchange study costs – inlingua Leipzig had struck a partnership with Academica International Studies to provide the Dual Diploma Program as a more affordable, convenient option for Germany-based students.
In light of the current mobility restrictions, the program has become an even more important alternative, and this cooperation even more pertinent for inlingua, a dynamic language school that tailors its education offers to many different customer groups and shifting demand. The COVID-19 pandemic has moved more of inlingua’s own courses to the online realm, and it is increasingly working with partners in that way as well.
The partner and program creator Academica International Studies is headquartered in Miami, Florida. It had been cooperating with inlingua Verona and Dual Diploma Italy before inlingua Leipzig also decided to come onboard, impressed with the program’s quality and growth.
Needless to say, digital is the medium young learners – the so-called “digital natives” – tend to feel most comfortable with. It helps if teachers can “speak that language” in reaching students and facilitating their learning, something they have embraced fully in the Dual Diploma Program. That is the present trend and one that appears to be here to stay, as every new generation becomes more linked in.
Beginning with a small group of students in Spain in 2010, the Dual Diploma Program now has a network of more than 170 high schools around the US and some 10,000 students worldwide. One of its big selling points is the opportunity for these students to improve their English by taking actual courses being taught at US high schools. This is the first aspect a student enrolled from Bavaria brought up when asked in what ways the program could shape her future:
Dual Diploma is helping me in a lot of ways: I am improving my language skills in English, it helps me broaden my horizon in many other fields and… to get to know myself better.
The student also mentioned that, while there is a learning curve with its digital platform, she got used to it fast with her new teacher’s assistance. The platform involves live lessons in a virtual classroom setting, where students can interact with their teacher and each other in real time, as well as assignments students are expected to complete individually after class. The platform’s design looks like a mixture between a blog and the open-source learning platform Moodle that Leipzig University uses.
“I was super happy with my American teacher,” the Bavarian student said as she reflected on her first semester in the program, which she had just finished.
“She was kind at all times, answered my questions immediately and it was easy talking to her in the live meetings. I remember my first ‘Welcome Meeting’ video call very well. I was nervous at first, but as I realized that my teacher was totally relaxed and welcoming, my nervousness disappeared quickly. She took her time explaining the Dual Diploma Program and the online platform carefully and made absolutely clear that she will be there if we need any help.”
Constanze Gasior, who helps coordinate the Dual Diploma Program on the inlingua side, said that the language school is the program’s exclusive liaison in Germany. She and her colleagues are responsible for communications with parents and students and their registration with the US high schools. The inlingua team stays in regular contact with the participating high schools, besides closely following students’ progress.
They are currently busy recruiting students for the Dual Diploma Program’s upcoming semester, which officially starts on February 8th, 2021.
How long it takes to complete the US high school courses depends on how far along their local education path the students are when they enroll (between secondary school and college). As Gasior explained, “the online high school diploma has the same recognition as the physical high school diploma and the subjects for graduation are the same. The only difference is that you do not have to do all six subjects in one year, but you can choose between two to four years since you are doing the German Abitur in parallel.”
Among the subjects required for graduation from the program are English, US History, US Government, and Economics. For their elective courses, students can choose from a diverse range of subjects such as Global Studies, Engineering and Technology, Criminology, Psychology, Life Management Skills, Introduction to Social Media, and Digital Photography.
Having US courses and a high school diploma would make it much easier to attend an American university, not only for the knowledge of English gained, but also for being able to skip the process of evaluation and recognition of foreign schooling in the US. The Dual Diploma Program also offers preparation for the SAT and ACT, the standardized tests required for admission into most US higher education institutions.