Multilingualism has become an important part of schooling all over the world. What will happen to students’ learning because of this change? What can we do to ensure that speaking more than one language helps teaching and learning?
The few large-scale studies that have looked into the link between speaking more than one language and doing well in school need to give us more information to make policy ideas or come to conclusions. Things that happen in a complicated setting often affect the results:
Most of the time, English is used in school, a world language that some immigrant children already know. However, more context-sensitive research is needed to determine the benefits of multilingualism in developing countries with low incomes.
The way schools work in different countries like some countries have beginner classes instead of full-on language classes, can affect studies that try to find a link between speaking more than one language and doing well in school. The link between speaking more than one language and doing well in school is connected to other social and educational goals, like integrating students.
What Does It Mean To Be Multilingual?
In a country setting, multilingualism means that the people who live there speak more than one home or first language. It means that a person can talk to other people in more than one language.
There is a difference between being bilingual and being multilingual. Multilingual means being able to speak more than two languages well. In this way, it differs from duality, which means using two languages. But in this piece, the bigger idea of multilingualism is used, explained in the last sentence.
Here are some claims about the pros and cons of speaking more than one language in three main situations:
The migratory setting, where the student speaks a language other than the host community’s. The state of indigenous multilingualism in developing countries, where kids learn in a language other than their home language. When schools use a foreign language to teach different subjects, like English as a medium of instruction (EMI), this is called the language of instruction setting.
1. What Is Going On With Migration In Developed Western Countries
Several studies have found that it takes three to five years for first-generation immigrant children who don’t speak the host country’s language of teaching to learn basic social skills (BICS).
CAP stands for cognitive academic language competence. It takes them five to seven years to get there. The terms BICS and CALP come from early works by Jim Cummins, like Bilingualism and Special Education. Reading and writing skills in both home and foreign languages are also linked to academic success.
It’s not always possible to set up dual-language schools in places like the UK that have a lot of migrants who speak different languages. Overall, it would mean teaching in a lot of different home languages, which is shown by the fact that most of the students speak more than one language.
English as a second language (EAL) students in English state schools have shown a steady rise in their GCSE and A-level grades, according to statistical studies. But scores are affected by a number of important factors, such as the age of immigrants to the UK, differences between regions, and first language use.
2. The Multilingual Situation In Developing Countries With Low Income
In this situation, a study shows that being literate in your home language is a good indicator of being literate in English at the primary school level. Home language teaching as a medium of instruction in rural primary schools can help students do better in school than EMI.
In a 2019 position paper, the British Council said that kids in low- and middle-income countries are more likely to understand what they are learning and do well in school if they are “taught in their own or a familiar language, rather than English.” The British Council recommends that English be taught as a subject rather than a language for other subjects in this age group and setting.
UNESCO has also supported a “multilingual ethos” and mother tongue education in developing countries in a number of publications, including a new study released in 2016.
3. What Makes Learning A Second Language Happen
Several studies show that the EMI method is not as good as a home language training method for learning “content” at the school level. At the secondary school level, EMI makes English skills better, but it seems to have a bad effect on humanities subjects.
Encourage people to speak more than one language by using Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), which combines teaching a subject and learning a target language. On the other hand, EMI does not have built-in language learning.
Pérez Caado’s work, The Effects of CLIL on L1 and subject acquisition shows that over time, a CLIL method makes both subject acquisition and second language competence better.
Making Bilingual And Multilingual Education Real
For a school to become bilingual, the staff, the kids, and the community must all change the way they think. First, everyone who has a stake in the way to multilingualism needs to weigh in. The most important things to think about should be the language of the immersion school, the types of students it serves, and the results of the program. This includes creating bilingual groups based on grade level or group of students. Also, working with neighborhood partners like embassies or non-governmental organizations in the area could be helpful for the school. Once the vision is clear, it’s important to let staff, kids, and parents know the goal and why the program is important.
Second, one of the main goals is to make a unified bilingual program that works for both students and teachers. If two languages are taught in school, students should be able to study in more than one language. To review and improve the curriculum, there should be training for teachers, ongoing professional development, and teaching learning cycles during the whole process.
Last but not least, the program should be reviewed and updated regularly. The project should be good for the community and have proof that it works. This can be information about how well someone speaks a second language or how well they did on a normal test. Also, teachers, parents, and students should be asked for their thoughts on the program and those thoughts should be used to make it better.
It can be scary to think about spending money on a bilingual or international program at your school. When you look at the study, the benefits, and the desired outcomes, you will see that the program’s benefits are real and outweigh its problems.
I’d like to think that by the end of their first year at a new school in another country, kids had grown in many ways, not just in their understanding of the standards that were taught. It can be hard, but kids and families benefit when schools and teachers offer bilingual or international education.
According to studies, being able to speak more than one language has a big effect on how well students do in school:
New immigrant students who don’t know the home language before can take up to five years to learn how to speak it at an age-appropriate level and up to seven years to learn how to do well in school using it.
Reading and writing in a child’s first language helps them learn other languages and subjects better. The type of job (like a math task or a text comprehension task) also affects how well people can switch between languages.
By using more learning techniques, learning a second language makes reading and writing in your first language better. The socioeconomic background of the students affects how well the medium of instruction program is carried out.
In countries where people don’t understand English as their first language, EMI works best at the secondary school level. When a student’s home language is not used as the main language of teaching at school, using and learning that language at home can help them do better in school. It looks like CLIL is a better way to teach multiple languages in the classroom than EMI.