1 Bilingual trend in education


A trend towards more bilingual immersion education in various regions and countries

CLIL-type immersion models emerged in the 1970’s in Canada, and two-way immersion or dual-language models from the 1960s in the USA and Europe. In the European context CLIL has become increasingly popular since the 1990s, where it used widely to teach English as a foreign language. Two-way immersion education is still relatively rare in Europe. In countries, where English is widely spoken as an official language, bilingual education often aims at language maintenance and revitalisation, such as in Wales, or to teach modern foreign languages that are sometimes also spoken at home by some families, such as French in London.


Indeed, bilingual immersion approaches are not new to England either. Back in 2002, a CILT survey counted 47 CLIL projects; furthermore, in 2002 the then DfES commissioned a Content and Language Integrated Project (CLIP) that was overseen by the National Centre for Languages (CILT). It is argued that CLIL offers an answer to The Languages Review (DfES, 2007:15), which recommended ‘the introduction of more stimulating and relevant content’ to the languages syllabus and educational approaches that allow integration of language learning with other subject learning (2007:16). A pilot project initiated by the Coalition Government in 2011, and implemented by the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), selected 5 schools to trial bilingual immersion in primary and secondary settings. A recent conference on bilingual education in Wandsworth saw great enthusiasm and interest. These combined activities, together with the developments in several schools, shows that we may well be witnessing a trend in England.


In Wales of course bilingual immersion programmes have had a long history. According to a report, there were 500 Welsh-medium primary and 54 secondary schools in 2006. The situation there is slightly different than in England, since the Welsh Assembly actively supports the maintenance of the Welsh language through education (see Twf campaign).


There is an increasing number of bilingual immersion programmes with an impressive range of language combinations on offer in the state and private sector in Australia.


BIEN maintains a directory of two-way immersion or dual-language models that exist in Europe. It is difficult to find these as they may exist under different names. So there must be more programmes out there.

Other countries and regions

USA: directories of immersion education on www.cal.org

Please let us now about other directories we could link to