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Monolingualism – Bilingualism – Multilingualism

The Teacher's Perspective


Hanna Komorowska and Jarosław Krajka

The book brings together sociolinguistic, neurolinguistic, and educational perspectives on language acquisition and learning in the classroom and at home. First and second language acquisition studies, classroom research findings, Polish, European and international legislation, as well as statistical reports on foreign language learning and teaching show how learners proceed from monolingual to bilingual or plurilingual competence. The book provides an overview of the major issues in the field from the teacher’s perspective, equipping teachers with theoretical underpinnings related to language education, and inviting reflection on individual choices in promoting bi- and multilingualism.

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4. Promoting bilingualism


4. Promoting bilingualism

4.1. Defining bilingual education

Bilingual education is defined in a variety of ways. For the sake of the discussion in this section, we will use the term bilingual education – as Hamers and Blanc suggest – to describe a school system in which content is given in two languages:

• at a given moment in time;

• for varying amounts of time;

• simultaneously in both languages or consecutively;

• in set proportions;

• either through L1 until the students are able to learn through the medium of L2 or through L2 with a shift to L1 in later years;

• by bilingual teachers (Hamers and Blanc 2000: 321, Ng and Wigglesworth 2007).

Some other meanings of the term encompass, according to Baker (2006), schools attended by bilinguals, children who are allowed to use their home language in the classroom for only a short period (e.g. one or two years) until they switch to the majority language (called ‘transitional bilingual education’), or schools in which students learn through two languages in the classroom.

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