The word “bilingual” simply means the ability of an individual to comprehend and communicate two languages fluently.
A bilingual individual is not only someone who has acquired both languages from birth, or at an early stage in life but also one who learns a second language later in life.
Bilingual education on the other hand, both formal and informal, refers to the teaching of academic content in two languages; a native and a second language. To help students become proficient in both languages.
Bilingual education offers teaching and curriculum which entails impacting academic knowledge to students in their mother tongue while progressively introducing and integrating a second language, usually the one that predominates in that area or nation.
Bilingual education helps to effectively connect with people of different cultures and backgrounds. It gives the opportunity to participate in the global community in more ways, get information from more places and learn more about people from other cultures.
It brings unity to a multi-ethnic, tribal and national linguistically diverse state enables people to communicate with the outside world, provides language skills which are marketable and aids employment and status.
In order to fully engage in society and access educational and employment possibilities in both linguistic and cultural contexts, bilingual education strives to assist students in becoming proficient in both languages.
Depending on the precise objectives and demographics of the student body, this approach may take a variety of shapes, such as dual-language immersion approach, heritage bilingual approach, transitional bilingual approach, and maintenance bilingual approach.
Dual Language Immersion Approach
A program that utilizes two languages, is known as a dual language program, it typically places students in classrooms with a mixture of native speakers for each language. One popular approach to dual language programs is the 90/10 model, where in the early grades 90% of instruction is conducted in the student’s native language and 10% is taught in their second language.
As the student advances, this proportion changes until an equal amount of time is spent on both languages. Another model, the 50/50 model, starts with an even distribution of instruction time between the two languages right from the start of the student’s education.
The Heritage Bilingual Approach
This model is used to support the rejuvenation of an indigenous language. The goal of the heritage approach is bilingualism and biliteracy. However, the heritage language can take precedence and become the dominant language in the classroom, with the goal of having it take precedence in the broader community as well. Many languages have been successfully revived using the heritage approach.
The Transitional Bilingual Approach
The transitional approach starts out as bilingual but the aim is monolingualism; the student’s first language is only used in order to teach the second language. This is the traditional model for children entering school with a first language different from the dominant language: they are given language support in their first language until they are able to understand instruction in the second language, but instruction in their first language is phased out.
The Maintenance Bilingual Approach
Like the previous approaches, the aim of the maintenance approach is still bilingualism and biliteracy, but to a lesser extent. The student’s first language is maintained as the basis for second language learning and the student’s culture and identity are affirmed. However, the student’s first language is not expanded upon.
Bilingual education has become a widespread approach used throughout the world. It could be implemented in different ways, with different educational goals in different countries.
Importance of Bilingual Education in a Globalised World
- Cultural Awareness and Empathy.
- Improved Communication Career Opportunities.
- Global Citizenship.
- Diplomacy and International Relations.
The Challenges of Bilingual Education
- Different levels of fluency among students.
- Developing appropriate teaching methods.
- Curriculum design for bilingual programs.
- Funding and resource disparities.
- Availability of qualified bilingual educators.
The Opportunities of Bilingual Education
- Enhanced cognitive development.
- Improved problem-solving skills.
- Fostering cultural awareness and empathy.
- . Promoting tolerance and diversity.
- Increased career opportunities.
Fostering diversity, equity, and access to high-quality education requires promoting an inclusive bilingual educational system.
Researched by: Olamide Opebiyi