Bilingual Education |

Bilingual education involves the teaching of two languages for academic instruction and content. According to Andersson and Boyer (1970) in Bilingual Schooling in the United States, “Bilingual education is instruction in two languages and the use of those two languages as mediums of instruction for any part, or all, of the school curriculum.”In bilingual education, both languages are considered equally important; one is not favored over the other. Content and delivery are provided in the two languages rather than one of the languages being taught as a subject by itself. In bilingual education, none of the languages should be lost, altered or diluted.In Canada, both French and English are official languages. The Canadian Constitution provides for the use of both languages. Although French-Canadians are making serious attempts to get to a French unilingualism, it is unthinkable to seek the homogenization of linguistically diverse groups. In addition, in current times, the acquisition of more than one language remains a plus. While French is estimated as having 110 million native speakers and 190 million second language speakers worldwide, English has become the lingua franca, the language of choice for business and computers.Education programs in a country like Canada are faced with the challenge of instructing students in both French and English. Thankfully, bilingualism is an achievable goal for all individuals.The key for teachers is to remember the importance of keeping each language separate in order to foster growth and development in each language. Bilingual education should not involve simultaneous communication as the concurrent use of two languages often results in a degradation of both these languages. Some classes should be in French, while others are in English, all following a self-contained model, providing sheltered instruction from teachers trained in sheltering techniques.Because both languages are valuable, educators should focus on an additive form of bilingualism, working to develop both languages over the long term. The aim is bilingualism and biliteracy. An effective bilingual program utilizes two-way immersion, which involves: (1) Instruction in two languages; (2) One language at a time; and (3) Peer-to-peer facilitated language sharing.English-Canadians are showing increasing interest in becoming bilingual. Let them be reassured: it is possible for students to acquire proficiency in both French and English and become more effective in playing an active role in the global community and economy. Bilingual education empowers students who become full participants of a multicultural society.