Title: English and beyond – an introduction to multilingualism policy at EU level
The role of the European Commission is to promote language learning and linguistic diversity in Europe. The guideline is the well-known principle which was agreed between the Heads of State and Government back in 2002: that every European citizen should have the opportunity to learn not only one, but two foreign languages in school, and that the language learning should begin at a very early age.
Has this actually been implemented? Sadly not to a satisfactory degree. On one hand the first foreign language is introduced earlier in primary school in most countries and our statistics give us a rather positive message about 60 % of all children learning two foreign languages in school. On the other hand the few attempts that we have made to measure the results of these efforts have been disappointing, even for the first foreign language, which in almost all cases is English.
After elaborating a bit more on the particular role of English as a global lingua franca, I shall explain how the European cooperation in the field of education and training works and discuss various surveys that have been carried out at European level to measure language competences. For many years, the Commission was preparing the introduction of a European benchmark for language competences or at least a competence based indicator. This discussion has now been put on ice and I shall briefly state the reasons for that.
We shall look at how the individual Member States test the language competences of secondary school children and to what extent these testing methods are comparable. You will find out that every country has its own particular challenges in the field of language teaching and learning.
Title: Teaching and Learning Second Languages: Lessons From Content-based Second Language Instruction
Globalization has made the world much more interconnected and interdependent. Competence in additional languages is becoming increasingly important in order to meet the challenges of globalization and to benefit from it. Schools around the world are seeking ways of improving students’ opportunities to learn foreign/second languages in school so that they are prepared for globalization. As a result, educators have innovated with content-based language instruction; these approaches are variously referred to as content language integrated learning (CLIL), immersion, among others. This talk will review research findings on second language teaching and learning in content-based classrooms. I will consider the findings with respect to key issues in teaching and learning: How successful are content-based approaches? Is early second language learning really better? Does more instructional time result in better outcomes? Are these programs suitable for at-risk learners? What is the role of the home language in content-based instruction?
Title: Bilingual teaching in Spain: a global overview
Bilingual education has proven to be a high impact innovative element in our education system. However, the generalization of this type of instruction has been carried out without the necessary coordination, and many programs have been launched with differences not only in their structure and design, but also in their development and implementation. This talk wants to offer a view on bilingual education in Spain since its beginning, to analyze its evolution, and to reveal, as the main objective, which quality factors should be part of a bilingual program. In like manner, I will try to answer to questions such as: Shouldn’t all the bilingual programs provide the same kind of teaching? Shouldn’t all the teachers involved in these programs have the same duties and the same recognition? In order to avoid a different bilingual program in each Spanish region, wouldn’t it be appropriate to design a common framework that would allow a harmonious development of bilingual education in Spain? Is it possible to establish common assessment and coordination mechanisms? What level of linguistic competence should students reach? These and other questions will be discussed.
"No matter how many years it has been implemented in more and more schools, bilingual education is still a controversial issue. Why? What are the reasons for this? We will try to give an answer to that question by analyzing the achievements of the Bilingual Program of the Madrid regional government and specially its mistakes. These could justify some criticism from certain sectors."
Title: Who’s better: natives or nonnatives?
In my book ’The non-native teacher’ (1994), I argued that nonnative-speaking teachers of English were unable to emulate native speakers in terms of their English-language competence. I also claimed, however, that nonnatives were in possession of certain attributes that could well offset their linguistic handicap. To prove my point I put forward two sets of hypotheses. Although partly based on empirical evidence, ’The non-native teacher’ received mixed responses at the time of its publication and afterwards.
In addition to briefly presenting the gist of the book and its aftermath, this lecture gives a brief overview of developments that have since taken place both concerning the native/nonnative dilemma and English language teaching in general. With a new paradigm looming large, I propose that a fundamental rethink of steps to be taken in language policy and practice is required. My ideas are specified in a 9-point action plan for deliberation.