Hello Exam Seekers,
Today the post is not exactly about exams, but about a new trendy in the ELT community: the bilingual education.
It is becoming part of the regular private school routine to find the best way to teach English to their students. They are always coming up with projects or ideas to implement more and more English into the students’ routine.
First, they decided to add more hours of English in their lesson grid. Then they came up with the “bilingual education project/programme”, which would be more hours of contact with English, although they were now teaching other subjects with English, CLIL started being applied. It took a while before these schools started to use the term “bilingual/bilingualism“, which according to Cambridge refer to individuals or groups who routinely use two or more languages for communication in varying contexts. However, there are many definitions and understandings of the term ‘bilingual’, for example, a degree of competence in two languages.
However, in many places, the bilingualism is still going through some adaptations. There is still not a regulation on what is a bilingual school/education. Schools apply their own ideas of what is to be bilingual and use it. Some use the term “bilingual learner” to talk about students who use their first language (L1) at home and use the second language (L2) at school; others use this term to say that the students have some school subjects in English and some subjects in their L1 – the amount of L1 and L2 varies.
Benefits of a bilingual education
There are many benefits of having an education focused on two (or more) languages, such as:
- Using L2 to teach content subjects can make language development much richer;
- It can also raise students’ motivation and focus attention;
- It improves inter-cultural skills and increases mental flexibility and opportunities for global exchange trade.
What are the expected challenges of a bilingual education?
People, in general, feel anxious about this innovation and will have lots of questions related to the use of L2 by students.
First, the school is expected to have a good structure. It means that you do need to have a prepared staff. Good educators with L1 and L2 and other employees ready to speak to the students in both language – if it is the structure of the school. By saying that, you have to see what kind of context you insert:
- will the bilingual education be for the whole school or for a bilingual stream?
- what age will the bilingual education start? (since there are pros and cons of an early/late age start).
Keep in mind that it is all a new territory, so a lot of research is required. It also requires monitor and evaluation, making sure that everything is in check.
Where can I start?
First, you do need an L2, otherwise, that won’t be possible. Second, having a long-term training strategy, such as having, other than your own graduation, training on pedagogy for example.
Research and study about CLIL, this is the first type of class before transforming the school into bilingual. Once you are using CLIL to teach you will be a step closer to teaching all the necessary subjects in the L2. Translanguaging is another topic it might be relevant for you to study since it depends on the teacher to know how much L2 and L1 they are going to use in class.
Nowadays, because of the relevance bilingual education achieved, there has been many workshops and courses about that. Eve and I have been going to so many this year in São Paulo, you should look for those in your city/country. For those who are from Brazil, know that the Singularidades Institute is offering a Latu Sensu course on Bilingual Education, check it out before the openings are over.
I hope this text today was interesting and relevant for you. Cambridge offers a bunch of information on this website, check it out. But if you still have questions, make sure to write them down on the comment section below.
Have a great weekend,
Patty and Eve.