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What is Bilingual Education?

What is Bilingual Education?

What is the definition of bilingual education?


What is Bilingual Education?

What is Bilingual Education? Bilingual education has gained ground in recent years. In this post, we address what it consists of, its main advantages, and challenges.

In recent years, the number of schools that have implemented integrated learning programs for content and foreign language has increased considerably. These models of bilingual education, or multilingual in those are helpful in those communities with co-official languages. These offer advantages and challenges to both teachers and students. Modality consists of its main advantages and challenges for the training of students.

What is bilingual education?

We speak of bilingual education in those cases in which in a community, two languages ​​of different states are used. The minority language is introduced into the school and resources are provided for its teaching.

It depends on the roles played by the different languages ​​and the objectives pursued. Different types of programs or models of bilingual education are usually distinguished. In the transitional or assimilationist model, the minority language is used as a means of instruction.

It is used during the first years and later gradually replaced by the majority or dominant language. The objective is, therefore, to facilitate the student’s adaptation to the demands of the educational system in a society. That does not promote bilingualism, immersion teaching.

The pluralist or maintenance model, on the other hand, encourages linguistic diversity. Also tries to eradicate negative social attitudes towards the minority language. In this type of program, the minority language is more important than the majority language. It is used in the school curriculum and is used as a medium of instruction. Not only in the initial stages, but also in the more advanced courses.

There is also a special type of bilingual education for speakers of the majority or dominant language, immersion teaching.


Are you interested in educating yourself completely in another language? And would you like to know the advantages of bilingual education and its disadvantages? Normally, you ask yourself this question due to the growing interest in acquiring high levels of knowledge of a language, especially English.

Surely you know many people who have received a bilingual education. And the advantages that it has been evident. Knowing a language is almost like a second mother tongue. Of course, this can open numerous doors in anyone’s work future. Even in the personal sphere because who wouldn’t want to spend a few years of their life in a foreign country? Or who doesn’t like to travel?

What is the purpose of bilingual education?

Bilingual Intercultural Education is the modality of the educational system that guarantees the constitutional right of native peoples to receive an education that contributes to preserving and strengthening their cultural elements, language, their worldview, and identity.

What are the types of bilingual education?

Native bilingualism: One who has a person because he is originally from a country but has foreign influences, which allows him to master both the language of his country and abroad. An example could be a child who lives in Pakistan and has an American father with whom he speaks English at home.

Acquired bilingualism: That which is acquired when someone with a mother tongue studies a foreign language until they know it and use it very well. For example, a child whose mother tongue is Urdu begins at a very young age to study English and ends up mastering this language over the years.

Benefits of bilingual language:

You must look at the advantages and disadvantages of bilingual education before making a decision. On the positive side, we can highlight the advantages of bilingual education on several points.

When choosing a bilingual center, doubts arise about its advantages and disadvantages. Does it help to improve the level of English? Does it affect the learning of other subjects? Does it affect the development and competence in the mother tongue? The answer to all these doubts will depend on the specific educational plan that each center implements, but we can extract a series of advantages that bilingual education offers students:

Linguistic competence: it is the most obvious benefit. But, in addition, this ability activates the brain’s networks and allows people to have a more open look and thought.

Professional competence: undoubtedly one of the reasons why many people choose bilingual education. With this type of education, professional possibilities multiply, being a quality that can make a difference with other candidates for a job.

Cognitive competence: being bilingual is much more than speaking two languages since it allows developing communication skills and provides mental flexibility.

Cultural competencies: a language is also culture, and that is precisely what is acquired together with linguistic competencies, breaking down cultural and mental barriers, and providing a broader vision of the world.

Why bilingual education is important?

My own experience as a bilingual student and educator gives me reason enough to strongly promote and support bilingual programs. Bilingual education is a powerful tool that educators use to carry out their mission to help New York City public school students become proficient in the English language.

These students with the help and support of their native language will be able to transfer their knowledge of the well-structured and meaningful language to the demands of the English language. Bilingual educators are contributing so that the child can also preserve his culture, values ​​, and traditions to make his learning environment comfortable and pleasant. The child must feel that environment as his own so that he can feel the invitation made to learn to master two languages ​​that will open the door to success.

Another important reason is related to my own experience of how bilingual education can make a big difference in people’s lives when they are allowed to do so through bilingual education programs.

Another important factor in bilingual education is the results in terms of academic achievement since the child can become well qualified to reach the learning levels required by the education department.

In the Dual Language Immersion programs, children become fluent in reading, writing, speaking, and understanding two languages ​​simultaneously, making the child improve their levels in the tests required by the education system.

Below I will show some real results of work done with children from these two-language immersion programs where they have received instruction in two languages, native and English. Over the next few days or weeks, your progress is seen in both languages. Today we will take the example of a math lesson, the subject of which was somewhat complicated and difficult for first graders.

However, the teaching in their native language and the use of real situations from daily life helped them to understand and manage the use of fractions. The result was fantastic when all the students took their math test in English, where not only their knowledge was tested, but their understanding of fractions, and other mathematical concepts. Most of the students scored 100% on the fraction part. Students had the opportunity to transfer their knowledge learned in their native language to the English language.

Children through their experience in bilingual programs never lose focus and their primary goal of becoming proficient students of the English language, where they will have the ability to read, write, understand and express it orally. Similarly, each of them also understands the importance and meaning of being bilingual because they must master both languages ​​with the same ability and dexterity.

Advantages and disadvantages of bilingual education?

As a general rule, people who have a bilingual education receive it from the earliest years of childhood, so it is the parents who make this decision. However, there are other options, such as studying a bilingual career at the university, which can also help you learn a foreign language more thoroughly.

In any case, and although it may not seem like it, bilingual education has advantages and disadvantages that you should know before embarking on this adventure. Would you like to know which ones are they? Keep reading!

Advantages of bilingual education:

  • Students achieve communicative competence in the second language, in many cases at the level of a monolingual native.
  • The introduction of a second language from the early formative stages favors the understanding of the speech acts and the culture of another language.
  • Students grow up knowing cultures other than their own, they understand that they are part of a diverse society.
  • Beyond linguistic competence, the use of another language is perceived as a professional skill.
  • Greater selective attention and multitasking ability to be able to alternate two languages.
  • Enhances attention, memory, and concentration.
  • Easier to learn other languages.
  • There is still a long way to go in bilingualism

Although language teaching in schools has been on the rise in recent years, there is still work to be done. The effective implementation of bilingualism requires time and adaptation of curricula, methodologies, and organization of schools, as well as adequate training of teachers.

Disadvantages of bilingual education:

It can be assumed that the disadvantages of bilingualism are related to (a) greater language difficulties in children with language problems, (b) decreased verbal fluency, and (c) interference between the two languages.

Analyzing bilingual education and its advantages and disadvantages. We can see some negative aspects that affect children above all. In this sense, many experts do not agree with this type of education since it is very likely that the person runs the risk of not reaching a satisfactory level in either of the two languages ​​in which they are being trained. Hand in hand are the cognitive problems related to language that with a multilingual person multiplies by as many languages ​​as the person masters.

Of course, if you wanted to acquire these skills as an adult, you would not have to face these inconveniences. So don’t think twice! Knowing bilingual education and its advantages and disadvantages, you are prepared to make the decision that you have been thinking about for so long and that it will open so many doors for you professionally.

Effectiveness of bilingual education:

The question what is bilingual education? and how is this effective? will be justified here. It gives the opportunity to the person to have expertise in the language skills. There are multiple languages that favour you in many ways.

English is the language that is used commonly in the schools and a popular part of the courses. French also has a great scope and getting common in educational institutions. So let’s talk about the French language that after English is taught in the courses. In the higher level, students have the option to choose a language as their elective subjects.

Who has French as a second language?

Who has French as a second language? French is the language of instruction to develop bilingual speakers; English-French. The most recent investigations have presented results positive studied more than a dozen sociolinguistic variables (about the phonology, lexicon, and morphsyntax of oral French) and concluded that students in immersion programs outperformed students who took normal French classes in these factors.

However, the results also showed that the language development of the immersion program speakers was considerably lower than that of native speakers of the same age. This is a common fact in this type of investigation. Swain has studied these Canadian programs for more than two decades.

One of his Major studies in 1985, which many consider key in language acquisition research, showed that immersion did not translate into acquisition. For many years that students were in immersion programs, their output not only did not match native speakers, but it was way below.

The possible causes of this lack of competence are investigated and conclude that production plays a crucial role in the acquisition of a language. Input is necessary but not enough. This is known as the ‘Output hypothesis’. Therefore, it can be concluded that one of the limitations of bilingual education is that for many students the second language becomes a ‘school phenomenon’.

These students are moderately proficient in second languages. But they do not use it outside the classroom. In short, research in Canada has shown positive and negative results of their immersion programs and has served as feedback to improve them. In addition, it has opened the door for other researchers to be developed in other countries and programs.

Some of them have been carried out in the European context with different results. However, the results seem to be repeated and it can be concluded that many students may not acquire native skills in all areas of the language.

This is partly to be expected since these bilingual programs tend to have a very restrictive social environment to practice the language and this means that students do not have use of social language stylistic appropriate because communication is limited to that of teacher-student.

Therefore, the lack of opportunities to practice the language spontaneously can be the cause of this performance difference; Research has shown that this is particularly true if, in class, the emphasis is on correction rather than developing communication skills. In these cases, students will probably understand the language (input) perfectly, but they will not produce it well (output).

Some programs have already started promoting improvements and developing other teaching techniques to change these results. Among them is that the teacher concentrates on the evaluation of the content and not on the grammatical execution.

In addition, researchers recommend increasing the group and collaborative work to increase linguistic competence while integrating the ‘focus on form’ approach when teaching content. Teachers have also been recommended to systematically give feedback to students on their development.

On the other hand, research is quite insistent that to develop a linguistic competence comparable to the native one students must have opportunities to practice the language spontaneously and with other native speakers on different cultural occasions. Programs in Wales have proposed weekend camps in which students use the language spontaneously with positive results.


The questions, what is bilingual education? is pretty much clear and now we must conclude the facts here.

Language selection and alternation require additional attentional resources. However, the specific pattern of brain activity of each language depends on the use it. And probably on a variety of situational conditions.

Traditionally, the literature has tended to emphasize the negative consequences of bilingualism. Such as delayed language acquisition, increased interference, and decreased vocabulary in each language.

Over the past decades, however, the emphasis has shifted to the positive aspects of bilingualism. It includes metalinguistic awareness, cognitive flexibility, and cognitive control. Bilinguals can score higher on a variety of both verbal and non-verbal tasks.

When it comes to two active languages ​​and frequent changes are required, interference and decrease in verbal fluency can be anticipated. Conversely, language represents the most important instrument of human cognition.

However, the possibility of re-sorting the two different languages ​​can increase the cognitive potentials of an individual. Poor learning of one or both languages ​​can cause a negative effect on students. But solid learning of both languages ​​can result in important cognitive and academic advantages.

Learn, speak solid!

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