There has been an exponential growth of bilingual schools in Spain in the last ten years. It is generally agreed that getting an education in two languages is highly beneficial for students not only for professional but also for cognitive reasons. It has not been an easy task, despite the enthusiastic interest of parents, students, teachers and educational authorities. The challenge has been very important. Teachers needed training not only to improve their fluency on the target language but also on innovative pedagogics that involve to teach content along with a second language. Resources had to be developed from scratch since a direct translation of the existing resources was not the right answer to the challenge.
Most provincial governments developed training or support programs so schools could offer quality bilingual teaching. Schools had the opportunity of hiring language assistants to work with teachers in their classes and help develop resources in the target languages. Teachers have also been offered summer courses to continue improving their command in the target language. Working groups, sometimes at the international level, were created to allow for the sharing of resources and experiences. I have already blogged about some of these groups who have been sponsored by a European institution or developed by between schools in two countries.
The Department of Education in Madrid in partnership with the Rey Juan Carlos University hosted the International Conference on Bilingual Teaching in Educational Institutions in 2010 and 2011. The goal of these two sessions was "[to establish] a theoretical and practical framework" for bilingual programs. Experts and researchers in bilingual settings were present at the conferences but also "a large number of teachers from every educational level interested in sharing their experiences and knowledge." Fortunately for us, the keynote speakers' presentations from both conferences are available online. We have access to the rest of the sessions only of the 2010 conference. I was specially interested in learning about the experiences in secondary education and some of them are extremely inspiring and give us a good insight of how teachers are teaching subject areas in the target language.
The third conference will be held in Madrid on the 18th and 19th of October, 2013. This year's title is: "Bilingual Education: Consolidation and Perspectives for the XXI Century" and it "aims to go deeper into and move forward in the analysis of bilingual education". The key themes of the conference are intriguing, as the list provided on the conference website reveals.
- CLIL and good practice
- CLIL assessment in different subjects
- Bilingual education: teacher training and updating
- Activities and resources to support CLIL methodology
- Technological tools for bilingual education in the XXI Century
- The importance of literacy in the bilingual classroom
- Bilingual teaching in secondary education
- Future challenges in bilingual programs
- Academic language in different subjects
- Bilingual teaching in higher education
Sadly, I won't be able to attend the conference but I look forward to having a look at the presentations once they are available online. I just hope that all the sessions will be posted online and not only the keynote speakers' sessions. All the information above and the presentations from the previous conferences are available on this website: http://www.cieb.es