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Bilingual Education

Bilingual Education

What is it?

Bilingual education is an established method of improving language skills. It involves teaching in two languages; the country’s native language and a secondary language.

The use of each language can vary. In fully bilingual education, two languages are used across all school subjects. In partially bilingual education, two languages are used across a limited number of school subjects. The teaching of a subject in a non-native language is known as Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL).

Why is it needed?

With CLIL, the subject being taught can be completely unrelated to language learning, such as science lessons being taught in French at a Polish school. It has been found to be an effective method of encouraging bilingualism is all areas of education (from primary to adult and higher education).

Students can benefit in a variety of ways, as CLIL:

  • Builds intercultural knowledge and understanding;
  • Develops intercultural communication skills;
  • Improves language competence and oral communication skills;
  • Develops multilingual interest and attitudes;
  • Provides opportunities to study content through different perspectives;
  • Allows learners more contact with the target language;
  • Does not require extra teaching hours;
  • Complements other subjects rather than competing with them;
  • Increases learners’ motivation and confidence in both the language and the subject being taught.

Bilingual education and CLIL are valuable tools in the implementation of the Commission’s multilingualism policy. This policy includes both the promotion of language learning and the promotion of the co-existence of different language communities within one geographical area.

What has been done so far?

The Commission’s key strategy in this area is detailed in an accompanying document to the Rethinking Education strategy that was adopted in November 2012. This document points out that the CLIL method of foreign language teaching is available in almost all Member States.

In 2011, a working group focusing on early language learning published a report that contained specific examples for successful implementation of full bilingual educational programmespdf(168 kB) Pasirinkti šios nuorodos vertimus  in a number of Member States.

The EU has also supported E-CLIL, a three-year project to develop both materials and a virtual resource centre for the use of CLIL. The project focused on language learning, learning strategies, multilingualism and multiculturalism.