Changing Perspectives on Celtic Bilingual Education Colin Baker Bangor University Overview Introduction Four Perspectives on Bilingual Education A Contemporary View of Bilingual Education Child-Centred Bilingual Education Conclusion Introduction ‘Bilingual Education’ is ambiguous; To establish common ground: ‘where some, most or all curriculum content is learnt through more than one language’; Bilingual has increasingly gained positive associations. Four Perspectives on Bilingual Education Bilingual Education (BE) cannot be understood from just an educational perspective. It requires multidisciplinary perspectives: 1. Language Planning Perspective where BE is often an essential production line for new speakers when there is a shortfall in family language reproduction. But there can be over-optimism about the impact of schools on producing language communities and ‘new speakers’. 2. Political Perspective Behind Bilingual Education are debates about national identity, dominance and control by elites and counter elites, power relationships, political and social cohesion, unity and diversity. This relates to both minority language education and where there are ‘immigrant’ languages. 3. An Economic Perspective on Bilingual Education is also valuable. Example: Nadine Dutcher’s (1995, 2004) research for the World Bank suggests that Bilingual Education is economically cost-efficient by providing higher levels of achievement in fewer years of study; lower drop-out rates; and creates a more skilled workforce and less unemployment. 4. The Pedagogical Perspective on Bilingual Education typically begins with a typology: immersion; heritage language; dual language; mainstream bilingual; etc. Typologies have limitations: - static, many variations within models; - not about processes nor provide explanations; - essentialist and reductionist ... and ... do not capture variety (immigrant, indigenous, immersion) that can occur within one classroom; It is more valuable to engage the key language issues in Bilingual Education on which pedagogic decisions are needed. Ten Language Issues in Bilingual Education 1. Language(s) of children in the classroom - majority - indigenous minority - bilinguals from birth - international languages? A class may contain a mixture. 2. Language balance of the intake (e.g. majority / minority language): strategic or laissez-faire? 3. Language allocation in content teaching (e.g. science, mathematics). - developmental strategies across grades - hidden and non-curriculum use of languages - code-switching - scaffolding 4. Language profile of ALL the staff (competence, use, attitude) 5. Language of curriculum resources especially electronic (e.g. ICT, e-learning, WWW) 6. Language aims, targets, outcomes: - bilingualism - multilingualism - biliteracy - employability - identity - community integration - overall achievement of children Bilingual Education is no guarantee of effective schooling. Type of language learnt at school is often academic – not vernacular. 7. Effectiveness of Bilingual Education Research on Canadian Immersion and US Dual Language schools used to market to parents, public and politicians. The value of Bilingual Education is not self-evident. We have to market and persuade. 8. Defining the role of English and other languages (e.g. Spanish, Mandarin, French) 9. The Role of Parents - Cultural ‘Funds of Knowledge’ - language partners - homework 10. Teacher training, extended professional development and teacher supply are foundational. These four perspectives (language planning, political, economic, pedagogic) are about systems. We also need a fifth – a child-centred perspective. Language planning, political, economic and pedagogic perspectives on bilingual education do not capture the humanist European tradition of child-centeredness in education that is our historical legacy, e.g. from Comenius, John Locke, Rousseau, Pestalozzi , Froebel, Maria Montessori. 5th Perspective: The Potential Advantages for Children from Celtic Bilingual Education 1. Communication: - ‘Two languages: Twice the Choice’ - high levels of competence in both languages - bridging between language generations, groups and crossing language borders - increased social capital. 2. Biliteracy / Multiliteracies: - accessing different literatures, world-views, ways of thinking and acting enshrined in heritage and modern literacies. 3. Biculturalism / Multiculturalism: - accessing more varied accumulated meanings and widening understandings for different languages 4. Cognitive benefits: - IQ, divergent and creative thinking - sensitivity in communication, metalinguistic advantages 5. Character benefits: - self esteem: being proud of switching languages - compare to olden days of language repression - identity - tolerance? 6. Curriculum achievement: - solid research from U.S. on Dual Language Schools and Canadian immersion - a growing European literature on the superior performance of those in bilingual education 7. Learning a third or fourth language: - bilinguals appear to have advantages in new language learning 8. Economic and Employment advantages: - increasing demand for bilinguals / multilinguals wherever there is a customer interface. Sometimes due to government policy, sometimes to profit. Sometimes ‘essential’, other times ‘valued added’ e.g. translation and interpretation. Conclusion US Dual Language Schools and particularly Canadian Immersion Education have the most prolific literature showing bilingual education is typically preferable to monolingual education. Bilingual education stands the chance of giving a new generation of Celtic children child-centred advantages: Potential Advantages for Celtic Children from Bilingual Education ommunication ultural urriculum ognitive haracter ash Therefore, is any child not educated bilingually in Ireland being disadvantaged?