¿Por qué es importante la educación bilingüe?

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Bilingüismo is a difficult area to research, a dense forest of confounding variables, of which sampling, education levels, tasks used, variations in the languages themselves and different outcomes from different language combinations, are but a few. There is evidence, however, that expertise in more than one language provides cognitive benefits on top of increased opportunities. Findings in neurology have related language acquisition with structural changes in the brain that assist with executive functions such as cognitive flexibility, creative thinking and attention management.

¿Qué es la educación bilingüe?

Estudiar el bilingüismo

Human behaviour and perceptions are mediated through our language; the codes that are unlocked when new languages are learnt help create a new level of perception. Leading Swiss academic and expert on bilingualism, Francois Grosjean, has shown how the bilingual child or adult is not simply the sum of two (or more) monolinguals; rather, he or she is the owner of a unique and specific linguistic configuration. The bilingual manages and manipulates attention to one language or the other, actively but often subconsciously. Their languages not only coexist; they interact to produce a complete system of its own. 

Beneficios de la educación bilingüe

En el moderno mundo globalizado, la educación bilingüe desempeña un papel crucial y ofrece claras ventajas, especialmente para las generaciones más jóvenes. 

1. Ciudadanos del mundo

Las personas bilingües tienen un valor incalculable en el mundo actual. Descubrirán que las perspectivas de empleo se abren y los horizontes sociales se amplían. Su compromiso con el mundo y la sociedad humana que habitamos es rico; sus mentes son ágiles.

2. Beneficios psicológicos

Furthermore, their attributes go beyond simply translating words from one code to another; to know another language well brings subtle psychological benefits. These include the ability to see both sides of the story, to appreciate extended meaning and enjoy a wide range of conceptual understanding. Such attributes are good for the individual involved and crucially, help towards that elusive goal of international harmony. Bilinguals act as bridge builders, the go-betweens who can explain one culture to members of the other and act as intermediaries between the two. 

3. Conocimiento de la lengua

Escolarización internacional ha contribuido a impulsar el dominio de las lenguas. A medida que las familias se globalizan y más jóvenes viajan por estudios y trabajo, pueden conocer a su futura pareja lejos de su país de nacimiento, lo que da lugar a más familias multiculturales que comparten varios idiomas en sus hogares internacionales. Mientras nos enfrentamos al dominio de una lengua en amplios ámbitos de la actividad humana, con el inglés como lengua 1 o 2 para muchos, si no la mayoría, de esos estudiantes, es fascinante observar cómo eso está dando lugar a que se reconozcan cada vez más versiones del inglés. La población de ciudadanos globales que comparten los beneficios de las diversas formas de bilingüismo está aumentando.

4. Comprender las culturas

On top of the functional benefits of language learning, bilingualism is about understanding cultures. With the creation of their unique language system, the bilingual is also making sense of his or her relationship to both of the cultures to which the linguistic code has given access.  At the same time as managing their attention to this code, its vocabulary and its syntax, the bilingual will be paying attention to the cultural variants between the languages. They are constantly combining and blending aspects of the cultures they are living, making linguistic and cultural choices according to the needs of the circumstance.

El resultado es un "espacio intermedio", como el hábitat de los Third Culture Kids. La idea de los Third Culture Kids se desarrolló para referirse a los niños que crecían fuera de los países de origen de sus padres (que a menudo eran ellos mismos expatriados). Pasan a formar parte de una tercera cultura y no de una simple mezcla de los países de origen y de acogida.  François Grosjean señala que los bilingües a los que se les permite ser quienes son y aceptar su doble (o múltiple) experiencia vivida son miembros valiosos de la sociedad que salvan la distancia entre las culturas a las que pertenecen. Este es un papel importante que desempeña el tipo de oferta educativa que se encuentra en Instituto Montana.

Estrategia de enseñanza de la educación bilingüe

El aula bilingüe

The bilingual classroom is an inspiring place. Just seeing children’s school-work on display, with captions and labels exhibiting proficiency in two languages, is mind expanding. But it does not happen by itself and the pure quality of instruction is critical – every child must feel happy and confident to be open to the challenges as well as the benefits of learning bilingually. Research into the bilingual brain is guiding teaching methods. It is understood now that these children use both languages to make sense of the world; they are very adaptive, deepening their understanding of the first language while acquiring the second; and the process has important positive effects on other aspects of cognitive development, such as  attention management.  The Bilingual Elementary section of Instituto Montana cuenta con la larga historia de la escuela en materia de educación internacional, así como con la dedicación y la experiencia de su personal. La enseñanza en el aula bilingüe requiere un enfoque exhaustivo, con mucha evaluación individual y ayuda continua. La calidad de la enseñanza proviene de la utilización de principios de instrucción basados en la evidencia, como el modelado y las verbalizaciones del profesor, la práctica guiada y el ritmo rápido de las lecciones para mantener el compromiso de los alumnos. 

The Montana Elementary school classrooms are tucked away in a pretty corner of the magnificent Institut Montana campus. As soon as a new child arrives, their language needs are quickly assessed and appropriate support organised. It might be that the child has some skills but needs in-class support to benefit fully from the lesson. In this case, teachers deploy the integrative EAL (for English) or DaZ (for German) programme where support is provided by an additional teacher within the normal classroom following the standard lessons. If the child would  benefit from more intensive language tuition, they receive help specially tailored to their needs. For half of the English or German language lessons, they work with an extra teacher outside the classroom so that they quickly learn the foundational skills to enable rapid progress in the new language and find the subject matter within their reach. For the other half they continue to participate in normal lessons so that they can interact with their peers. Peer interaction in the bilingual classroom takes on a special importance. One of the keys to language learning is motivation, and children who find themselves playing and forging friendships that transcend what would have been language barriers are very motivated. Social skills are finely tuned through the process of welcoming someone to the group and helping the new arrival to feel at home, whatever language gaps there might be. In this multi-lingual group of young learners, it is important not to hold up one language, and therefore cultural identity, as superior to another. Seeing one of the languages and its culture as the dominant one is counter-productive to the cultural harmony the bilingual classroom seeks to promote, even when the curriculum followed belongs to one of the languages. The Institut Montana Bilingual Elementary School follows the curriculum of its home country, Switzerland, but the balance between the two languages is scrupulously maintained. Teaching is distributed at 50% of the time for each language. Each academic year the groups change Class Advisors, swapping between German and English speaking, so there is a further balance in exposure to both languages.  

Eficacia de la educación bilingüe

Un futuro brillante

No cabe duda de que aprender un nuevo idioma amplía los horizontes y añade una habilidad útil. Además, aporta grandes beneficios cognitivos que, a pesar de estar sujetos a demasiadas variables como para separarlos, son reales y significativos. En Instituto MontanaCuando llegan al final de sus años en la Escuela Primaria, estos niños saludan un mundo de oportunidades. Disponen de los conocimientos avanzados de alemán que les abren las puertas a la académicamente exigente Matura suiza, que pueden elegir estudiar en alemán o en alemán e inglés. Pueden emprender el camino hacia el Diploma de Bachillerato Internacional, a passport to universities all over the world. Or they can continue their bilingual studies at the Bilingual Secondary School while assessing where their ambitions might take them. Children coming together to learn, to play and to collaborate in a space where two languages are common currency creates a hybrid space with a culture that belongs to neither one nor the other. The bilingual classroom is a space for inclusivity, where a new light is shone on ideas about cultural identity. Its students will be the global citizens of tomorrow, broad-minded and insightful adults who are adept at sharing and discussing knowledge in a multicultural environment and totally at home in an international Zoom meeting. For these bright children, the future is bright.

Escrito por

Instituto Montana Zugerberg

Institut Montana Zugerberg

Institut Montana Zugerberg is a fully accredited Swiss international boarding school for 90 years now and since 1987 an official IB World School. The School’s longstanding experience in academic excellence allows us to ideally prepare students as well educated and confident individuals ready for success at world-renowned international universities.