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    In the same way that bilingualism is a ‘simple label for a complex phenomenon’ (Cazden & Snow 1990), so is bilingual education.

To cite Baker (1996, p173):

    "At the outset, a distinction needs making between education that uses and promotes two languages and education for language minority children. This is a difference between a classroom where formal instruction is to foster bilingualism and a classroom where bilingual children are present, but bilingualism is not fostered in the curriculum. The umbrella term, bilingual education, refers to both situations leaving the term ambiguous and imprecise. Precision can be attempted by specifying the major types of bilingual education."

    One way of discriminating between the different types of bilingual education is to look at the different objectives that these programmes aim to achieve.

    Transitional programmes aim to shift the child from the home minority language to the dominant majority language. In which case, the pupils might either lose their first language whilst acquiring their second and main language; or never fully develop their minority mother tongue.

    Maintenance programmes attempt to foster the minority language of the child’s ethnic group and promotes bilingualism and biculturalism in the pupils.

    Enrichment programmes aim at promoting a second or a foreign language and, depending on the context, aim at fully developed bilingualism or merely at working competence in the foreign language.

    Please refer to the Bibliography for more information. In particular, Ferguson, Houghton & Wells (1977) for their classification of the various aims of bilingual education programmes.

Please click here for more information about Bilingual Education Programmes in specific countries

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