Schools for the Future Europe
Schools for the Future Europe

John Sayer

John Sayer is a Research Fellow at the Oxford University Department of Education, UK, and Trustee of the English Trust for European Education. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications
and Lynn Erler

Lynn Erler is a Research Fellow at the Oxford University Department of Education, UK, and Trustee of the English Trust for European Education. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications

Continuum, 2012


Content Type:

Book chapter



Related Content

Models of Bilingual Schooling


Lynn Erler

Lynn Erler is a Research Fellow at the Oxford University Department of Education, UK, and Trustee of the English Trust for European Education. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

Search for publications
, Jackie Holderness

Jackie Holderness

Search for publications
, Marc Wolstencroft

Marc Wolstencroft

Search for publications
, Judith Woodfeld and Gabriela Meier

DOI: 10.5040/9781350091177.ch-008
Page Range: 135–157

There has been no better time before now to consider the future of bilingual schooling in Europe. This is because linguistic and practice-based research findings in bilingualism have been crossing over into European policies providing guidance documents that have clear conceptual underpinnings. Bilingual schooling is distinguished here from bilingual education only insofar as the former focuses primarily on the school-based conceptualization and realization of bilingual or plurilingual teaching and learning. Bilingual schooling is itself, however, no simple topic because it does not merely involve teaching linguistic aspects of two (or more) languages. It involves bi-cultural and multicultural knowledge and an understanding of the complex cross-connectedness of the languages which is integral to being bilingual, including the roles each language plays in the learner’s and the school’s life, from innermost personal levels to issues of power in the immediate and wider communities. There are many different approaches to creating bilingual education. More and more school programmes are being developed in Europe, some researched and reported on, only a few evaluated. In this chapter, we first establish a preferred ideology for bilingual education and then propose a framework identifying the influences on its realization in a school. There then follows a selection of working models of bilingual schooling, presented and described in their own words by key people engaged in them.

What are not included in this chapter are arguments for and discussions about the advantages of bilingualism and bilingual education. These are assumed and can be found in the literature on bilingualism that has appeared over the last half century. It is clear from studies in applied linguistics, psycho-and cognitive linguistics, neuro-science, literacy and education, as well as reports from the chalk face and from bilinguals themselves, that being bilingual is of benefit to all concerned.


What is ‘bilingual’? For the sake of expediency here, it is the ability to handle at least two languages in some way along an imaginary continuum that includes being able to ‘get along’ in a conversation to possessing native-like capacities, including literacy, in the languages. In addition, the term ‘bilingual’ carries with it deeper layers of knowledge and understanding of languages and cultures.

The purpose of this chapter is not to offer detailed consideration of the vast literature on bilingualism. Colin Baker’s (1988) reviews of the research and theories about bilingualism, which had appeared up through the 1980s, dispelled misconceptions that bilingualism was somehow detrimental to the child and that bilingual schooling would impede rather than, as it clearly does, promote cognitive development. He advocated the effectiveness found in certain immersion programmes and above all the valuing of languages equally regardless of their status in the socio-political realm. He set the tone for later studies, influencing European policies[1]. A review by Suzanne Romaine (1995, 2nd edn) of the growing applied linguistic literature on bilingualism included further details surrounding definitions of bilingualism, the ‘bilingual brain’ and types of bilingual children as well as attitudes toward bilingualism at local and higher political levels. Most recently, Ofelia García (2009) has brought together the many issues which have emerged from what she terms the ‘translanguaging’ between languages and cultures that occurs with bilingualism to focus on what constitutes types, models and directions in bilingual education. She includes chapters on socio-political and geo-political attitudes and official policies to give a global perspective. At a different end of the spectrum of studies, in a clear view of what bilingualism and bilingual development can mean at the personal and familial levels, Edith Esch-Harding and Philip Riley (2003) provide valuable support for parents and for schools as well when dealing with children and families. There is still much to be learned about the social, political and linguistic dimensions of bilingualism, the bilingual brain and the processing and development of bilingualism, with many questions which researchers continue to engage in.

Language ideologies in schools

What has clearly come out of the literature is a distinction between two fundamental ideological approaches to bilingual schooling identified by John Edwards (1984) and refined by García (2009). One conceptualization provides language programmes where the ultimate aim is fluency in a majority language. Any support given to another, possibly minority, possibly mother tongue (MT) language is viewed by the school as an interim measure on the road to full competency in the majority language. A manifestation of this includes foreign language teaching where language is simply a subject in the school curriculum. Such aims in education fall under García’s (2009, p. 7) umbrella expression ‘monoglossic’, used to describe the pedagogical approach to different languages as if they were unrelated autonomous systems, where there is no acknowledgement in the schooling of the complexity and richness of knowing and using two or more languages in real contexts for pertinent reasons. Monoglossic ideology is evident, for instance, in the separation of languages in most secondary schools in England into two distinct departments, English and modern foreign languages (MFL), with no cross-fertilization or cross-referencing between them.

In contrast to monoglossia, Edwards’ (1984) promotion of language maintenance or enrichment for bilingual education is taken up and expanded to ‘heteroglossia’ by García (2009, p. 7) which is a more complex concept than Edwards’ description. A heteroglossic view sees a bilingual’s languages as ‘multiple voices. A heteroglossic ideology of bilingualism considers [the bilingual’s] multiple language practices in interrelationship’, acknowledging ‘the complex social realities of multilingualism’ (p. 9) lived by bilinguals and which ought to be integral to bilingual schooling. Creating bilingual programmes within such an ideological framework is not at all straightforward, as García (2009) and other much earlier authors (such as Spolsky et al. eds., 1977) have pointed out. There are numerous players, forces and local and more distantly situated variables that exert an influence on the conceptualization and development of a bilingual schooling model. Consequently every school will have a different programme, specific to the school’s and the learners’ circumstances and to the decisions made by those in power. These circumstances include, inevitably if not immediately, the political aims of the nation–state in which the school is located.

Heteroglossic models of bilingual education at school level validate a child’s two (or more) languages, aiming to develop them including biliteracy as equally as possible. In addition to curriculum structure, the ideologies, aims, motives and commitment of the principal players or influences, described metaphorically below as the linked, integrated sides of a triangular framework, are ingredients for the success of a bilingual programme. The aims, motives and commitment may well be multifaceted; they are certainly multilayered and will include rationales based on any number and combination of personal, societal, economic and political factors. What is important is the theoretical and in-practice egalitarian status of the languages in the school, encompassing as well an attitude of recognition, validation and development toward the child’s mother tongue.

European guidance

Recognizing the multilingual, multicultural heritage of Europe and wishing to facilitate the mobility of people and ideas, the Council of Europe has produced many pieces of guidance and recommendation, partly as the result of research in council-supported projects for language policy development and the democratization of language in schooling. Driving concepts behind these language education policies have been clearly distilled in the Council of Europe review document, ‘Plurilingual Education in Europe—50 Years of International Cooperation’:

Plurilingualism: All are entitled to develop a degree of communicative ability in a number of languages over their first one in accordance with their needs.

Linguistic Diversity: Europe is multilingual and all its languages are equally valuable modes of communication and expressions of identity. The right to use and to learn one’s language(s) is protected in Council of Europe Conventions.

Mutual Understanding: The opportunity to learn other languages is an essential condition for intercultural communication and acceptance of cultural differences.

Democratic Citizenship: Participation in democratic and social processes in multilingual societies is facilitated by the plurilingual competence of individuals.

Social Cohesion: Equality of opportunity for personal development, education, employment, mobility, access to information and cultural enrichment depends on access to language learning throughout life.

 --(Council of Europe, 2006, p. 4)

We see here an emphasis on socio-political aspects of languages reflecting the desire to construct a future Europe that is not only economically dynamic but diametrically different from the last 2,000 years of almost continuous warfare among its peoples. At the specific language teaching level, however, there is in this same document guidance support for the development of language awareness and cross-linguistic understandings, the recognition and development of transferable skills across languages, and cultural awareness alongside reciprocal respect for others. These are complex topics which require expert training in them (Carder, 2007).

Influences and attitudes

Distilled from the vast research into bilingualism and from EU, EC and especially Council of Europe documentation, a model framework of maintenance or enrichment heteroglossic bilingual education in schools for the future Europe is proposed here as a three-sided structure, drawn with deceptively simple labels. Each side of the triangle has actually many layers to it that include political, social and cultural aspects, and the sides are interlinked in ways not shown in a two-dimensional drawing[2] . Nevertheless it aims to present the matrix of influences which exert greater or lesser impact on decisions and practices. Attitudes toward languages permeate from all sides of the triangle.

A conundrum in the EU and certainly in England is that politicians are aware of many languages being spoken across Europe and within their own country[3] yet in many EU schools monolingual and monoglossic attitudes prevail, as if other languages were at most academic and not part of the reality of students’ lives and their society. There is often no recognition of an obligation of schooling to enable the student to develop the best possible results from his or her linguistic abilities.

1 Matrix of Influences on Bilingual Schooling

In England the attitude toward bilingualism has been one of neglect, if not denial. Since the 1980s there has been some recognition of children who enter secondary school bilingual in ex-colonial languages such as Gujarati and Urdu, usually referred to as ‘community languages’. This has led to General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams being developed for young people who, if given the opportunity by the school to do so, can choose to follow such a GCSE course. This move forward in mother tongue education at secondary level has not implied or instigated maintenance or development of the language at primary level. Ready access to a higher certificate (A-level) in the language is rarely available, and there are to date few university courses where a student can pursue his or her community language at university level. In short, the maintenance and possible enrichment of a few MTs has been treated as an optional school subject, not as a policy for validating balanced bilingualism. Recently a government-funded research project attempted to find out just how many community language teaching centres there are in England, but post-election governmental decisions have altered the focus of the research group and the answer is still not known.

By contrast, certain other European countries have subscribed to EU and Council of Europe recommendations, notably those which have begun to adhere to the Treaty of Maastricht (1992) with its point on education in mother tongue as well as two additional foreign languages. Gabriela Meier (2010a, p. 40) notes an influence that has spread from this: ‘[R]egional minority languages, which were not official European state languages, gradually came to be included in the 1+2 formula, thus promoting a more diverse idea of European multilingualism’[4] . Follow-on agreements since Maastricht, however, do not represent binding legislation and hence cannot be widely enforced. In addition, the difficulty of providing for MT education is manifest in the numerous immigrant languages that exist throughout Europe, today many that are not languages of European origin. Nevertheless the aspirations of the recommendations that have emerged from the EU, prodded by the European Parliament, and from Strasbourg’s Council of Europe can be and sometimes have proved in practice to be inspirational.

Four models of bilingual schooling

Four examples of bilingual schooling were presented at the English Trust for European Education (ETEE) conference on ‘Schools for the Future Europe’ in June 2010 in Oxford. These examples appear below in the words of the respective practitioner or researcher who has personal experience with the particular model. In two cases, they portray what they have themselves decided, devised and developed for their individual school context. All involve one or two-way immersion programmes and content and language integrated learning, or CLIL. One-way immersion is characterized by CLIL where selected subjects are taught in a foreign language. CLIL has been promoted by the Council of Europe as an extension to simple foreign language lessons, with the potential for greater engagement in the foreign language (FL) and more rapid learning. In one-way immersion, the learners may or may not be a linguistically homogeneous group. In two-way immersion, classes consist of speakers with two different MTs, and the two languages of instruction are used to teach all subjects.

The first model is that of the European Schools, specifically the only one in the UK, situated in Culham, Oxfordshire, described here by a teacher at the school. Over 55 years ago the first European School was set up in Luxembourg[5] and in total 14 European Schools were established for the families of employees at EU projects and institutions in eight different countries.

Jackie Holderness, primary teacher, European School, Culham

The European Schools’ model of multilingual education

The EU’s language policies promote multilingualism and aim for a situation in which every EU citizen is competent in at least two foreign languages in addition to his or her mother tongue. This goal is reflected in the curriculum of the European Schools (ES), where children start their second language at 6 years of age and their third language at 13 years.

The European Schools and their aims

The aims of the European Schools were expressed in words attributed to Jean Monnet which have been written on parchment and sealed into the foundation stones of all the European Schools:

Educated side by side, untroubled from infancy by divisive prejudices, acquainted with all that is great and good in the different cultures, it will be borne in upon them as they mature that they belong together. Without ceasing to look to their own lands with love and pride, they will become in mind Europeans, schooled and ready to complete and consolidate the work of their fathers before them, to bring into being a united and thriving Europe.[6]

These words point to the unique identity of the European Schools, with their potential to create inter-cultural understanding by uniting different cultures, languages and pedagogies.

The ES curriculum and language teaching

Each of the 14 European Schools is organized into distinct language sections. The school intake, how many children speak which languages, determines which language sections are created. There is not only a linguistic mix but also a pedagogical mix of teaching styles and cultural traditions, brought by native speaker teachers who are seconded from their home country system. For example, a French child learns most subjects in French from a French-speaking teacher who has been recruited from France. That teacher will be in contact with and also teach French to children from other language sections for their second (L2) or their third (L3) language.

Pupils follow the specially designed curriculum framework of the European Schools, common to all 14 schools and centrally controlled by the Board of Inspectors and the Board of Governors co-ordinated in Brussels. However, details of content and pedagogy are left to teachers and the school to determine locally. Each school draws up a local plan, or syllabus summary, which takes into account local and contextual factors. Through curriculum ‘harmonisation’ teachers across the language sections are encouraged to use similar instructional strategies and assessment formats. Teachers are prompted to coordinate learning objectives so that they are complementary across language sections.

Primary-aged children learn all subjects in their MT; they have L2 every day and for European Hours, a weekly lesson, taught across the language sections. At the secondary level, a German teacher, for instance, could teach dance and drama to children from all the language sections because they have elected that particular option. The teacher may, in fact, choose to do so in any language he or she knows. It is a good opportunity to learn alongside pupils from different sections about European culture, music and art.

The secondary model

The following subjects are compulsory for years one through seven of the secondary school (equivalent to years seven to 13 in England):

  • first language (MT)

  • language 2 (one of English, Spanish, French or German)

  • mathematics (taught in MT)

  • science (taught in MT): Science is taught as an integrated course in years one to three and as three separate subjects in years four to five. A science subject—biology, chemistry or physics—is compulsory in years six and seven.

  • history (in L2 from year three onward)

  • geography (in L2 from year three onward)

  • ethics/religion (taught in MT)

  • physical education (taught in MT and L2)

  • art and music (compulsory in years one and two)

  • a third language (L3) is compulsory in years two to five

  • philosophy is compulsory in years six and seven

  • in year three, pupils choose to study Latin, music or art

  • there is a small range of options for years four and five, including economics and another language (L4) with a greater range of choices in years six and seven

European Schools and bilingualism

In the European Schools, pupils are fortunate to be able to develop a balanced and elite[7] form of bilingualism. In general, they come from a socially privileged group and speak high-status languages. It is also accepted that children can secure bilingual competence via a range of routes. In simultaneous bilingualism, a child learns two languages from birth, usually because each parent decides to speak his or her mother tongue to the child. However, many children become bilingual in a sequential way, where L2 is learned after L1 is established. The European Schools subscribe to a sequential model, introducing the L2 at age 6 but only for one lesson per day. Literacy is established in L1 through the nursery and into year one. Reading and writing in L2 are not formally introduced until year three.

The model of bilingual education followed by the European Schools where history and geography are taught exclusively in the L2 in order to aim for balanced biliteracy is the approach known as CLIL which is also used for the topic-based European Hours programme, which each child follows throughout primary. At secondary level, the CLIL programme includes electives or options.

There are some resemblances to a two-way immersion (TWI) process, in as much as subject or cross-curricular content is taught through the second language. However, though students receive 1,100 hours of L2 instruction over their 12 years of schooling, immersion in L2 is only partial because only a fraction of each day is devoted to teaching L2. Importantly, lessons are shared with pupils from other language sections. This encourages the pupils to use the language they are learning as a means of crossing the communication barrier between them and pupils with other languages. Because the goal is primarily oral competence, as a necessary foundation for literacy later on, the European Schools’ approach is also highly ‘communicative’, with pair and group work and a focus on poetry, literature and song.

The success of the European system has been partially ascribed by Hugo Baetens Beardsmore (1993) to the fact that L2 lessons continue to focus upon competence in the language, even when the L2 has become the medium of instruction for secondary subjects.

As the Center for Applied Linguistics in the United States acknowledges, ‘Achieving a high level of co-ordination across languages is challenging for teachers’ working in a CLIL model (Howard, et al. 2006, p. 5). In reality, while European School L2 teachers liaise effectively within their own language section, they are rarely given the time or opportunity to work with other L2 teachers from different sections. Shared visits and activities across year groups enable teachers to work together across language sections and enable children to get to know teachers and students from other language groups.

Certainly, the development of bi-or multilingualism and bi-or multiliteracy is a key goal of European education, which culminates in the European Baccalaureate (EB). This challenging exam is very broad and requires students to write humanities essays in L2 and reach a specified standard in L3 as well.

European Schools were set up to enable pupils to reintegrate into their home education system, either when their family returns home or when the student chooses a university. European School graduates can choose a university which is either in their home or host country. For example, a French child schooled at ES Culham may choose to study in Italy or Germany. European School graduates are educated to be able to move confidently between countries, cultures and languages. Through uniquely European experiences, such as the Model European Parliament, exchange programmes, Intersport competitions and the annual Euro parties, they meet other European students and learn to appreciate that a European education is more than the achievement of the EB. It is the forging of a European identity, which transcends nationality or language.

* * *

A model of bilingual education that is in some ways similar to that of the European Schools and TWI has been developed independently in a British primary school by the school’s co-headteachers. Rather than being a creation of the European Union, here the superstructure consists of two single nation–states operating together at a local level: France through the Agence pour l’Enseignement Français à l’étranger (L’AEFE) with its curriculum for teaching French in schools abroad; and, a local education authority (LEA) in London following the English National Curriculum. The programme is described by the English school leader, or headteacher below.

Marc Wolstencroft, Headteacher of Wix Primary School, Wandsworth

Wix is an imposing four-storey Edwardian building that towers like a cathedral over its south London neighbours. In its time, it had been a popular community school, but over the years changing demographics led to a smaller and more socially deprived intake (more than 50 per cent on free school meals[8] in 2004). This, coupled with inconsistent management, progressively weakened the school to the point that it was under threat of closure, as I discovered shortly after being appointed to the post of headteacher in September 2004.

The reason why Wix could avoid being turned into bijou flats was because in September 1993, the Lycée Charles de Gaulle, a high-performing and popular French state (albeit fee-based) school located in London, started leasing empty space at Wix for its primary feeder classes. The leaser was the LEA of Wandsworth, where it was hoped that the co-existence of the two schools within the one building might lead to positive developments, but when I arrived, the two schools had little sympathy for each other.

Strategically the only way forward was to create something that the two schools could share in and the idea of a jointly owned bilingual stream fitted the bill perfectly. My hunch was that, given the status of the lycée, this would raise the aspirations and change the image of Wix in the local community and give us a dynamic by which we could start to integrate the two schools, as we have subsequently started to do. I was fortunate that my French headteacher counterpart, Gerald Martinez, the French authorities and the LEA supported the idea. After much preparation, the first bilingual reception class of 28 pupils began in September 2006, drawing 14 students from a local Wandsworth selected intake and 14 from lycée applicants who are fee paying. This was in addition to our normal ‘classic’ English reception[9] class recruitment, so that there were now three parallel teaching groups: one English, one French and one bilingual.

Our idea was to try to combine the best elements of both educational systems, by means of teaching half the week in English, the other half in French, a total of 2.5 days a week in each language in separate rooms. Establishing a bilingual stream necessitates creating an entirely new educational ecosystem. The French and English educational systems are very different and everything needed to be negotiated, from classroom furniture and holiday dates to the age at which phonics is taught.

The launch of our first reception class was a journey into an uncharted territory, and our first term was very rocky, as we found our fair share of unknowns.

Ultimately the reason why the bilingual stream works is that we have retained the strong support of a group of parents who early on recognized the significance of what was being offered, not the least because language education has increasingly become the preserve of private education in England. The reputation of the bilingual classes has grown as it has taken in the dimensions of a school within a school; we are massively oversubscribed as a result.

In summer 2010 we tested the oldest bilingual class, age 7 or year three, in the French national CE1[10] assessments and the English optional SATS[11]. The pupils performed at the same level as an average class in France and significantly better than an average English class. Notably impressive respective results were achieved in half the normal teaching time and by the means of a condensed and restructured curriculum reflecting the compromises necessary to harmonize the two countries’ approaches. For example, we delay the teaching of English phonics to year one, while in the French system they start at a slower pace.

Wix Primary has benefited enormously from the injection of a group of generally professionally skilled and motivated parents, who have helped rebalance the school intake and increase its social diversity and resources, both physical and human. While the social intake of what we term the ‘classic’ English classes, those who do not follow the French or the bilingual programme, has remained much the same, some parents, irrespective of their circumstances, continue to be ambitious for their children, but also at the same time a substantial and contrasting minority of parents still fail to engage effectively with their children’s education. The bilingual class parents are a self-selected group who apply through Wandsworth Council, as do all parents, indicating their preference for the bilingual class. By all measures, these parents are much more engaged with their children’s education. Standards in the English classic classes have risen significantly, but they vary from year to year (as one might expect from small sample sizes); raising them permanently still remains one of the major challenges in the school as it is for many schools across the country.

The Wix bilingual project has demanded an immense degree of commitment, collaboration and self-belief. It demonstrates the crucial importance of a highly committed and supportive group of parents, a close-knit team of passionate, skilled teachers who are receptive to different ways of teaching and to the importance still of taking calculated risks. The children in the bilingual classes are happy, self-confident, verbal and work orientated; both we and our French partners are proud of what we have achieved. The Wix project has gained a national and international profile and is cited by others as being inspirational. Some groups under the British government ‘free school’ legislation are hoping to emulate our work using languages other than French.

* * *

Accounts of two other immersion models follow below: one strictly within the British context as an exemplification of CLIL in a state secondary school, the other describes a heteroglossic model from a study of two-way immersion in Berlin, Germany.

Content and language integrated learning has developed in part as a solution to the challenges involved in creating heteroglossic curricula. In contrast to learning a language as a school subject, learning subject matter through a language, for example, in a CLIL programme, can create the conditions for broadening and deepening thinking and conceptualizing in and about that language. The bilingual’s experience of knowing and using a second language both receptively (comprehension when listening and or reading) and productively (speaking and writing) is difficult to capture and describe. Children speak of seeing or understanding the world from others’ points of view (Esch-Harding et al., 2001). Teachers speak of learners’ broadened conceptual thinking and of multiple approaches taken to accomplishing tasks. It is evident from neuro-science that the bilingual brain is more active than the mono-lingual brain when problem solving. CLIL is thought to support and extend the learning of another language and has appeared within European guidance on bilingual education as an area of teaching where recently ‘the greatest number of practical initiatives have been seen’ (Goullier, 2010).

A framework for CLIL in an English secondary school includes fitting it to the National Curriculum for Modern Foreign Languages where learning in a foreign language is measured against attainment targets (AT) at levels one to eight, roughly corresponding to the Common European Framework (CEFR)[12] levels of language competence. Learners’ successful progress through the AT levels can support success in exams. A school’s standing locally and nationally is determined by its national exam results. There have been years of struggle in English schools to encourage students to study a foreign language beyond the required age of 14, and if they do so to achieve grades between C and A* on their national General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) language exams. Bringing CLIL into a state secondary school entails developing learners’ foreign language skills while also challenging the learners to engage, using the foreign language, in subject concepts and ethical issues. There is a strong element of choice in the Chenderit programme with parents being well informed about its structure and content and students choosing whether they wish to continue it after their first year. There is also support from outside the school from both the local education agency (LEA) and from university-based research and guidance.

Judith Woodfield, Deputy Headteacher and CLIL programme leader, Chenderit School

CLIL at Chenderit School

CLIL was introduced as an entitlement for all year seven students at Chenderit School in 2008. All students follow one hour of CLIL geography each week in either French or German. In addition to this, students have an hour of CLIL delivered through ICT[13], PSHE[14] , or tutorial time. At the end of year seven students choose whether they wish to opt for CLIL. In 2009, 70 per cent of the students opted to continue and have followed progression routes through PSHE and tutorial time. This figure of 70 per cent represents the students who, according to research that we have conducted with the University of Aberdeen[15] also see languages as an important part of their future. Chenderit is presented as a case study in the national CLIL guidelines (2009): www.all-nsc.org.uk/nsc/?q=node/94

Transferable learning and study skills are important with 66 per cent of the CLIL students saying that they have strategies to help them learn. Eighty-two per cent say that learning language skills are important to them; 96 per cent say that it is normal to make mistakes, having a go is what matters, and 78 per cent say that you do not have to be clever to use languages. There is now a culture of risk taking and creativity in language learning which establishes students as effective, independent, international learners. This points to positive developments in student attitudes and motivation for learning a foreign language, stemming from their CLIL experiences.

Comparing student achievement in languages in 2008 before CLIL was introduced with results for the CLIL years it is evident that the number of students moving beyond target level four in their foreign language is increasing year on year as the CLIL programme becomes more established. So achievement levels in MFL continue to rise. The cohort attainment on entry based on average SATS scores and CATS[16] scores has not increased in this time, rather it has decreased. The 2010 cohorts who have achieved the highest results in their foreign languages are those with the lowest average SATs attainment upon entry (27.7)

Percentages of year seven students achieving at level four and higher in the foreign language rose after one year of CLIL. Before CLIL in 2008 only 45 per cent of French and 34 per cent of German students achieved a level four ranking. As the project has been introduced, the results have risen considerably as shown by the figures below, so that by 2010 the number of students of German achieving a level four and higher had doubled and the French students had increased by 14 per cent:

(before CLIL) 2008 French: 45 per cent German: 34 per cent

2009 French: 52 per cent German: 40 per cent

2010 French: 59 per cent German: 68 per cent

Tracking of students into year eight has shown further upward trends in relation to achievement.

Not surprisingly, the larger the number of lessons a student is taught using the CLIL approach, the higher the achievement of the student. The gains in achievement are highest, moreover, with lower ability students. By year eight they are a whole attainment target level higher in their foreign language skills than those students who have not followed CLIL.

The programme was controversial when first introduced, with some departments in the school reluctant to engage. This fear is understandable as the host subjects worry about retention in their subject and falling attainment. However, achievement is always in line with targets set in the host subjects, and the motivation for the subject is not affected. At Tile Hill Wood School, where the programme leader once taught, a longitudinal survey by Nottingham University showed that year eleven students could remember exactly what was learned in their geography CLIL lessons in year seven but could only recall the name of their (non-CLIL) science teacher. CLIL at Chenderit has placed the school in a confident position to embrace the ‘Ebacc’ or English Baccalaureate proposal by the British government in the white paper of November 2010. The Ebacc encourages students to gain GCSEs at grade C and higher in English, science, maths, MFL and either geography or history. The key to success in languages is motivation, risk taking, creativity and success at the microlevel. The CLIL students at Chenderit have developed all of these and are more likely to choose languages as an important part of their future.

* * *

The model of bilingual schooling which follows demonstrates an unambiguous attempt to fulfil the Maastricht (Barcelona) programme of MT plus two foreign languages with a specific socio-cultural agenda in mind.

Gabriela Meier, researcher at the University of Bath

Staatliche Europa-Schule Berlin

It is relatively well known that there are a number of two-way immersion programmes in the United States and, as outlined above, there are a few bilingual experiments under way in England. However, Meier (2010a) points out that there have also been a number of programmes in Germany since the 1960s, a movement that gained momentum in the 1990s. While there are programmes in Hamburg, Cologne, Wolfsburg and Hagen, to name a few, I will present here the one at the Staatliche Europa-Schule Berlin (SESB), which must be the largest bilingual or TWI programme in Europe. SESB started as a state-funded school trial in 1992, and in 2010 nearly 6,000 students were enrolled (SENBJS, 2008), and it is still growing. Currently, there are 18 primary and 14 secondary streams, ending with a bilingual German Abitur, the school leaving certificate and requirement for university access. The SESB streams are incorporated in mainstream schools dotted around Berlin uniting nine language combinations: German with English, French, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish. Each SESB stream uses German and one of these locally spoken languages as means of instruction, and each stream recruits children from two linguistic communities. Thus children are educated in two languages and learn the two languages from and with one another, based on the two-way immersion model.

Strictly speaking, it is a trilingual programme, since in addition to German and a locally spoken language, all students study English as a foreign language from year five, apart from those in the German-English stream who study French. Children are selected on the basis of having one strong language at mother tongue level, and passive knowledge of the other language, aiming for a even balance of native German speakers and native speakers of the other language. In this model, children are separated for their mother tongue and partner language lessons for the first 8 years, while other subjects are taught in mixed groups. Thus, in the first year, children start to write in their mother tongue, while the partner language is developed verbally only. In the second year, writing starts also in the partner language. From year nine, there are no more separated language classes, since all students are assumed to have developed bilingual competences that allow them to participate in all educational activities in either language. More information on SESB can be found in Michael Göhlich (1998), Inge Sukopp (2005), Wolfgang Zydatiß (1998) and Gabriela Meier (2010b). In the following, I summarize linguistic and socio-cultural benefits, as well as the challenges associated with the SESB programme, and argue that SESB could serve as a model for Europe.

As far as linguistic benefits are concerned, Christiane Fäcke observed in a German-French SESB stream that ‘after a few months of immersion education, the partner-language model leads to basic language competence in both languages that goes way beyond achievable and envisaged aims of foreign language tuition’ (Fäcke, 2007, p. 253, author’s translation). Larger primary-school studies in various language combinations by Peter Doyé (1998) and in a German-Italian stream by Sigrid Gräfe-Bentzien (2001) found that this model benefits listening skills, and Bernd Kielhöfer (2004) observed in a German-French stream that, at the end of 6 years of TWI education, all children achieved basic inter-personal communication skills (BICS) and 95 per cent achieved cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP), as outlined by Jim Cummins (1979, 2000)[17] .

To date, only Meier (2010a) has examined socio-cultural benefits related to SESB. This was a quantitative study in which she compared 272 SESB students with 329 mainstream students of the same age (14–18 years) who attended the same schools. Her study, which took place in seven schools comprising seven language combinations, revealed a consistently positive effect in terms of a number of socio-cultural factors, of which the most important ones will be discussed here. Based on sophisticated statistical methods and cautious interpretation, she argues that SESB classrooms tended to be more socially cohesive and that SESB students had greater conflict-resolution skills compared to their mainstream peers. Particularly students with bilingual backgrounds felt a greater sense of belonging to their class group than mainstream students with bilingual backgrounds. Furthermore, those SESB students with a non-German background were more interested in learning more about peaceful conflict resolution and they perceived less frequent violence compared to their mainstream peers with the same background. Not surprising perhaps, but nevertheless important, is the fact that teachers reported that in SESB there were fewer communication problems with non-German parents than in mainstream schools. This is due to the fact that one of the teachers is a native speaker of the students’ family language, which facilitates parental access linguistically and culturally.

Challenges identified by Meier’s study concern, first of all, the recruitment of children at school entry. Only 21 per cent of SESB students in the sample had a German background, and some teachers found that this means that in some streams there were not enough German-language role models in the class, which was reported to hamper development of linguistic skills and tolerance between groups. In fact, Kathryn J. Lindholm-Leary (2001, p. 316) suggests a 50-50 balance as ideal, and Elizabeth R. Howard and Donna Christian’s (2002) TWI implementation guidelines recommend at least one-third in each group if there are bilingual speakers. Another weakness was that teachers were unclear for which children the TWI model was suitable. This may be related to the advice they give to parents and affect consequent recruitment. In terms of school integration, some teachers felt that SESB and mainstream groups should be better integrated to avoid reciprocal stereotyping, but others felt that SESB had a positive motivational and aspirational influence on the mainstream sector.

In sum, Meier’s study confirms findings from the United States (Freeman, 1998; Lindholm-Leary, 2001) and Israel/Palestine (Bekerman et al., 2004) which indicate that relationships within the TWI school classes are generally more cohesive. Previous research also observed that TWI education improved home–school relations in the case of migrant families (Collier et al. 2004; Lindholm-Leary, 2001; Torres-Guzmán, 2002). Thus, Meier’s findings combined with previous studies lend strength to the argument that well-implemented and balanced TWI programmes develop high-level language skills and have a potentially positive effect on social integration. In Berlin, German children learn an immigrant language and thus respect and value the cultural backgrounds of their international peers and vice versa. This leads to the view that SESB students and teachers potentially provide bridges among cultures in the classroom, in the school, in the family and, in all likelihood, in the wider society. This responds to the idea that linguistic and social integration is a task for the whole society and not just for immigrant groups (Maalouf, 2008). Schools can play an important role in this. Thus, TWI education could form part of a wider language planning and social integration strategy in multilingual centres in Europe.

* * *

Across Europe and the world there are other models of bilingual schooling, variations of immersion and of CLIL. There is a great deal of research being carried out and that still needs to be done to understand fully bilingualism, bilingual development, the support and the optimal approaches needed for bilingual education and the many variables that impact on bilingual schooling. In the classroom and on the playground, it is ultimately the self-aware, heteroglossic teacher, supported by pervading school ethos and school practices and by parents’ interest and engagement, that will be able to promote and sustain successful bilingualism.

Evaluating bilingual schooling

Creation of the CEFR was an attempt to provide a framework for tracking progress in foreign language learning, presented as a list of ‘thresholds’ describing aspects of the language learned. Measuring progress in language learning could thus be deemed homologous regardless of language, country, school, learners or context. Bilingual language learning cannot, however, be reduced to threshold lists, descriptors or indicators. Particularly the ‘translanguaging’ of bilingualism, the deep linguistic and cultural knowledge and capacities that result from drawing on all the languages one knows, cannot be captured in such reductive lists. CEFR has not been universally embraced by teachers, even in England where for two decades educators have been required to categorize and track learning by using AT descriptors. The European Languages Portfolio (ELP) has been mooted as a tool for valuing learners’ languages (Goullier, 2010, p. 7). It requires the learner to self-assess competencies including in their MT; however, all is in relation to CEFR descriptors and it is not clear if there is a way forward for ELP.

In the last 10 years and particularly with the powerful OECD statistical comparisons of school learners’ achievement such as PISA[18], some perceptions of education have been thinned down to indicator criteria, manipulated such that questionnaire results can produce statistical findings. It is worrying that some educationalists have allowed, much less approved, such an approach to education and policy. Results for ‘country profiles’ have had far-reaching effects, prompting national reactions: excessive pride in Finland; in England a retreat into own statistics without taking a needed look at the problematic heritage of the National Curriculum; convulsions of self-doubt in Germany without looking where ideas for solutions may be found in-land eastwards. Quite clearly such actions and reactions are of little use to evaluating bilingual programmes.

Bernard Mackey (in Spolsky et al. (eds), 1977) pointed out decades ago that the evaluation of a bilingual education programme must be integrally linked to the expressed aims of that programme. Evaluation is thus dictated by many variables including student intake, the role and position of MTs, the setting and the goals in relationship to the matrix of influences, which themselves must be overtly identified to understand the context. Ideally, principles addressed in this chapter should be present: the valuing of all languages equally, the aim for balanced language competency, support for MT competence and literacy and explicit inclusion of cultural awareness for understandings at deeper conceptual levels. A programme or model for bilingual schooling should include an appropriate framework for self-evaluation. If a research-based evaluation is to be carried out, the parameters of that research programme need to be co-determined by both researchers and the subjects, taking into account the context and aims of the school.


García (2009, p. 113) stated that ‘[b]ilingual education in the twenty-first century needs to do more than simply shift or maintain minority languages or add languages of power; it needs to be attentive to the dynamics of bilingualism itself.’ This is not a simple recipe, but one key ingredient, urgently advised by Carder (2007) and appearing in Council of Europe documentation (e.g. Goullier, 2010), is for all school staff to be informed about and skilled in understanding these dynamics at the personal and school level. European education is in languages and their cultures and comprises knowledge of languages and cultures. Creating schools with ethos and curricula that provide these will afford the children of Europe a future of freedom of choice, movement, lifestyle and personal expression.

[1] Specifically the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, adopted as a European Treaty by the Council of Europe in 1992. Weaknesses include: It is not legally binding, signatories specify which minority or non-official language(s) they will protect and foster and recent immigrant languages are excluded. Great Britain ratified it in 2000 to protect only Welsh in Wales and Irish in Northern Ireland. France has not ratified it and Spain only for its several autonomous regions.

[2] See for instance, S. Grek et al. (2009) for a critical analysis of the struggles between Europe and national policy makers over the governance of education.

[3] An EU survey, the ‘Eurobarometer’ in 2006 reported that 56 per cent of Europeans speak more than one language and 28 per cent speak two foreign languages. The most multilingual EU citizens are the Luxembourgers, where 99 per cent know at least one other foreign language, followed by Slovaks (97 per cent) and Latvians (95 per cent), http://ec.europa.eu/education/languages/languages-of-europe/doc137_en.htm.

[4] The European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages was founded in 1984 to promote recognition of and education in minority languages, but the bureau has no real power to pressure or enforce national or local attitudes and policies. See note 1 on the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

[5] Luxembourg opened in 1953, with formal recognition in 1957, the European Baccalaureate was first awarded in 1959; see Part 3 of this volume.

[6] There has been some disagreement about who created this inspirational statement. See G Pinck at www.eursc.eu/fichiers/contenu_fichiers1/1522/Panorama_2005_1.pdf pp. 14–15.

[7] De Mejia (2002) has identified a range of status categories for bilingualism:

  • Subtractive: L1 [MT] has a lower status than L2 [majority language]

  • Additive: bilingualism is seen as a positive outcome, even if the languages enjoy different social status

  • Balanced: fluent and literate in 2 languages

  • Elite: both languages enjoy high international status

[8] In England, the percentage of children in a school who qualify for free school meals (FSM) is used as a measure of the socio-economic status of the school intake.

[9] ‘Reception’ is the name given to the first year of formal schooling in England, starting at age 4 or 4½.

[10] Cours Élémentaire 1.

[11] Standard assessment tests, periodic national tests for all state schools in England.

[12] ‘Developed through a process of scientific research and wide consultation, this document provides a practical tool for setting clear standards to be attained at successive stages of learning and for evaluating outcomes in an internationally comparable manner. It is the result of extensive research and ongoing work on communicative objectives, as exemplified by the popular “threshold level” concept’. A European Union Council Resolution (November 2001) recommended the use of this Council of Europe instrument in setting up systems of validation of language competences’: www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/cadre_en.asp.

[13] Information and communication technology.

[14] Personal, social and health education.

[15] A report is in progress by Professor Do Coyle of Aberdeen University.

[16] Cognitive ability tests are administered to children when they enter secondary education in England.

[17] BICS and CALP were categories defined by Cummins based on their differences in register, lexis, language structures and skills: Basic interpersonal communication (BICS) is the language that is used meaningfully at a personal level, for instance, in the family or between children on the playground; cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) involves higher-order thinking developed through school education, for instance, evaluating, drawing conclusions, hypothesizing and predicting. BICS and CALP are not separate from each other, and the one is not superior to the other but both should ‘develop jointly within a matrix of social interaction’ (García, 2009, p. 38). The thrust to develop these two different sets of language competences at school has been part of the rationale behind immersion programmes.