The term “bilingual education” refers to the teaching of two languages and the use of those two languages as the primary medium of instruction for any portion or the entirety of the school curriculum. The objective of this approach of education is to encourage the use of a second language by students from an early age. This form of teaching has received a positive response and is thereby gaining more popularity.
Why is Bilingual Education essential?
People who have mastered multiple languages have showcased higher brain development. Implementing bilingual education has allowed students to develop a higher understanding of their culture and language. In fact, when the second language is taught from an early age, students establish better listening, reading, speaking and writing abilities as well as being extremely proficient in the first language.
It is easier for younger pupils to develop comprehensive skills in two languages due to the fact that the brain undergoes major development in childhood. Thus, establishing a curriculum that incorporates two languages right from elementary school will be a success in regards to bilingual education.
Bilingual Education in the UAE
Several socio economic advantages, in terms of culture, language and academics, are offered to upcoming Emirati school goers due to the implementation of bilingual education. The UAE has made significant investments to promote biliteracy among students so as to enhance fluency in both Arabic and English.
Considerable success has been achieved by the New School Model, the Madares Al Ghad program and the other policies that had been undertaken in Abu Dhabi. These strategies have improved the ability of students to achieve success in terms of higher education as well as career choices.
Ways to improve Bilingual Education
In order to provide more room for improvement of bilingual education in the UAE, there are several ways that can be adapted.
- Students must be provided with vehement support by their teachers to increase their knowledge, particularly in terms of scientific terminology. Usage of both English and Arabic in the classroom enhances the proficiency developed in both languages.
- .Additional necessary support must be provided to teachers to make bilingual education a success in the UAE.
- Both Arabic and English must be taught simultaneously to students. Therefore, it is important to closely review the recruitment process of teachers and ensure that the teaching faculty is fluent in both tongues.
- Students must be encouraged to engage in various activities pertaining to both Arabic and English. Activities like, making conversions, reading, listening to music and writing in the second language allows better understanding.
Bilingual education, then, is a pedagogical strategy that integrates academic instruction in both the language spoken by the large number of students and the language that they have been seeking to learn. Unfortunately, due to the lack of study on language-in-education concerns in the Arab world, bilingualism in that region has attracted less attention.
As a result of the diglossic characteristics of Arabic and its linguistic differences with English, biliteracy is likely to be difficult. Hence, research must be conducted to determine the extent of benefits of teaching biliteracy simultaneously versus sequentially. Abu Dhabi schools are researching the benefits of early Arabic/English immersion instruction. The government of UAE is well reputed in providing all necessary means to empower knowledge and education.