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Studies of bilingualism and multilingualism have a long history, yet the reason why these phenomena have been taken as objects of scrutiny is not because they have been central to dominant social and political ideologies, but rather because of the challenge they have presented to prevailing ideologies. Indeed, whenever monolingualism has been central to imperial expansion or the construction of nation-states, multilingualism has been consequently seen as a problem to be understood through scientific description and thereby controlled.

References Abutalebi, J.

Auer, P. Mouton De Gruyter. Baker, C. Balibar, R. Bardovi-Harlig, K.

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Bialystok, E. Birdsong, D. Block, D. Cameron eds. Blom, J. Blommaert, J. Bourdieu, P. Butler, Y. Bychowski, Z. Clyne, M. Dewaele, J. Fabbro, F. Ferguson, C. Fishman, J. Gal, S. Gardner, R. Garrett, P. Many would argue that bilingualism is becoming a progressively necessary and essential skill for anyone as we shift towards a more integrated and connected global society.

Confidence increases when a new skill is mastered, and learning a foreign language is no different. It increases your self-confidence and sense of achievement. A big reason many parents want their children to learn a foreign language is so they can speak to family members in their native tongue. While many parents aspire for relatives to help teach children their native language, it turns out that can be a challenge.

As kids get older they often learn they can get away with speaking English, and relatives often prioritize understanding over teaching. Being a heritage language learner is a great opportunity, and language classes tailored to their needs can help them reach full fluency.

Approaches to Bilingual Education

Multilingual people are able to communicate and interact within multiple communities. Language education is becoming critical for the workforce of the future and being bilingual can broaden career options. Many jobs in education, healthcare, international business, politics, national security, translation, tourism, and social work require or favor candidates who are bilingual, resulting in more job opportunities for those who can speak a second language.

And speaking a foreign language can make it easier to be eligible for internships and work-study programs in other countries — especially if you have critical skills. Years ago people believed that learning a second language would confuse a child. How then to build creative thinking skills in children? For his part, Bright provides perhaps, the simplest definition and states that diglossia refers to the sharp differences in form and function between formal and informal style. Furthermore, Fishman provides a definition of diglossia which has been lately accepted within the sociolinguistic field.

He asserts that there will be diglossia as long as two linguistic varieties exist.


These varieties may be either dialects, registers of a same language or two different languages —to which different functions have been assigned. Taking this interpretation of an ample diglossia, Rojo cited in Moreno, suggests the concept of adscription diglossia , which refers to the situation where the languages do not coexist within the whole environment of a community.

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  6. In other words, certain groups use a linguistic system for particular functions and other groups use a different system for the same functions. Generally, those of a higher social stratum use a sort of language for more prestigious and formal settings, whereas those belonging to a lower social level will have limited access to those settings. So far no study has been undertaken in Colombia to establish whether these varieties of foreign language English have been described in reference to our school communities.

    Given the fact that a language is predominantly used with social purposes, it is also relevant to consider the concept of domain and communicative situation. The first one involves the place, the time of the communication, the participants, topics and pragmatic conditions.

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    Within bilingual settings it is important to distinguish between public or formal domains school, work, religion, etc. On the other hand and whatever the language, the economic, cultural, social, political, religious, and even affective factors will determine the level of language within a communicative situation. Any time that two languages come into contact, inevitably they will affect both individuals and societies.

    From the point of view of people a psychological perspective , and when the social conditions are not favorable to bilingualism or to the bilingual individuals , a situation harmful to the individual's personality could arise, a sense of social isolation, anomie , that causes anxiety Beardsmore, cited in Moreno, Likewise, the limited competence and use of one of the languages may provoke avoidance of social activities.

    The social advantages of bilingualism are quite evident. For instance, the need to establish a number of diverse relationships to increase the understanding and knowledge among people is crucial for the current world. When the acquisition of a second language which is prestigious socially recognized is attained, and when that acquisition is taken as a personal gain, we are talking about an additive bilingualism.

    Conversely, when the acquisition of an L2 responds to a socio-economic need, and it supposes the separation or gradual loss of the L1, we face what is known as subtractive bilingualism Moreno, In some contexts where the teaching and by inference the learning of a language falls into the category of ''foreign'', that is the target language TL is taught within instructional setting and with very limited and particular purposes, bilingualism tends to be confused with bilingual education. Broadly defined, bilingual education encompasses the use of the two languages as a means of instruction Brisk, Some of the people in favor of bilingual education argue that only dual language programs that consist of instruction in both languages equally distributed during the day are accepted as bilingual education.

    The reality is that bilingual education may occur following particular circumstances, like the needs of the students and the availability of resources. However, some programs of education are misleadingly called ''bilingual'', since within these programs L1 is the only means of instruction and the TL is seen like one more subject on the syllabus. The implementation and execution of bilingual education programs is, no doubt, a complex phenomenon that involves not only linguistic, sociological, cultural and psychological factors but also educational and political issues.

    It is important to reflect upon the linguistic aims of a given educational system which are likely the result of the state political decisions. According to those purposes, a system may be interested in having its students fully competent in both languages or just in one of them leaving the other to a lower level of competence.

    It is also important to consider the place assigned to the use of the languages within the curriculum. It is likely a balanced distribution of subjects or that one of the languages receives a special attention whereas the other one is left in a secondary place. Fishman and Lovas cited in Moreno, propose a four- level taxonomy of bilingual education:. Table 2: Taxonomy of bilingual education.

    Additionally, model of immersion for bilingual education programs is well known. In this regard, we can talk about early immersion when all the early instruction is done in a second language, and late immersion , when the L2 is introduced in the last years of primary instruction. The relationship between the student's language and the instruction language may lead to a conflictive model of education.

    For instance, when the student's language and the instruction language do not coincide and the educative model does not consider this imbalance, the instruction situation may become a failure. Anyhow, it is important to take into account the linguistic origins and the cultural and linguistic difference of the students. Lewis cited in Moreno, points out four international dimensions for bilingual education:. Undoubtedly, the existence of such varied and numerous factors make bilingual education a complex task to design and to apply.

    It is of pivotal importance that speech communities have to be considered. In this sense, Spolsky highlights that ''language management remains a dream until it is implemented, and its potential for implementation depends in large measure on its congruity to the practices and ideology of the community'' p.


    This insight supports the idea of the need for a policy design that stands on communities' beliefs and actual language use I use communities in plural for the vast array of speech communities. In other words, a bottom-up approach would pick up more real sustenance to build non-exclusive language regulation. Although being logical, this is an ideal method based on social construction which seems quite unlikely to happen especially in countries with strongly centralized governments.

    So far I have discussed some major issues regarding bilingualism and bilingual education in regions or territories where two languages meet.

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    This fact implies that there may be a social need for the establishment of bilingual programs. However, this is not always the case, sometimes the language that is to be part of the bilingual community has the status of ''foreign'', not ''second language'', a slight semantic difference that has profound implications when talking about bilingual education. Given this situation, we have to contemplate that that type of language the foreign language is seen not as an immediate need, and consequently necessary curricular adjustment has not been considered urgent.

    It is mistakenly believed that training language teachers to reach higher TL standards is enough to qualify a society as bilingual. I am not asserting that mastering the TL is not important, but rather that it is just one step towards the implementation of bilingual education programs. Most countries in South America, for instance, have decided to implement bilingual education programs 2 to meet international standards in order to make those countries ''more competitive'' in terms of international markets.

    In this regard, it is important to consider that a bilingual education model and bilingual education programs are not the same. The former deals with linguistic, cultural, and societal goals whereas the latter may be defined by features like students' population, language teachers and the program structure itself King, On the other hand, Hornberger cited in Mejia, proposes a typology of bilingualism applied to the South American context.

    She ascertains that there are a number of bilingual education programs throughout South America, but that the bilingual education models may be categorized in two basic types: a an enrichment model that fosters language development and additive bilingualism —a model designed particularly for the elite—; and b a traditional model especially intended for the maintenance of indigenous languages that in the long run, would promote a subtractive bilingualism. In the Colombian case, the efforts for developing a bilingual model may fit the enrichment model since this type has to do with programs targeted at students who are monolingual speakers of the dominant official language, and that manages the instruction of English as a foreign language King, Hornberger cited in Mejia, also highlights some of the major obstacles that the implementation of an enrichment bilingual education model may imply:.

    The above mentioned hindrances have to do with pedagogical, political and socio-cultural aspects involved in the complex issue of establishing a bilingual education policy. This implies that such a policy should be a multiparty construction involving most of the actors of a society. In my opinion, in Colombia, only the language that will be part of the bilingual project English has so far been decided.

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    Considerations for Bilingual Education in Colombia. Likewise, article 23 includes humanities, Spanish and foreign language as fundamental and mandatory areas. There seems to be a tacit understanding that English is the foreign language, given its commercial and international status although it is not explicitly stated in official documents as evidenced in the legal support mentioned above.

    In the same vein, the Political Constitution of Colombia of proclaims that ''Castilian [Spanish] is the official language of Colombia. Languages and dialects of ethnic groups are also official within their territories. Teaching within communities with their own linguistic traditions will be bilingual'' my translation Pineda, , p.

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    It is clear then that our nation has a legal support to respect and even promote vernacular languages all over the nation. However, what it is not clear is how government is to implement measures to fulfill this policy. We have inevitably to refer to a more complex issue regarding the effects of contact between languages taking into account social relationships of power. In other words, although vernacular languages can be considered co-official within their own territories, there are wider contexts in the administrative and commercial life of the country that will limit the use of any indigenous language.

    On the other hand, the Law also proposes education for the ethnic groups Chapter 3. It defines it as the education offered to groups or communities that possess their own culture, language and traditions.