Is bilingual education still on top of mind or is it more of a marketing tool?

January 16, 2023


I often visit schools where bilingual education has been around for a very long time, like more than 10 years. You’d think CLIL would be ‘hot and happening’ because of that. However, the opposite is often true.

Estimated time to read this article: 5 minutes

New board, new ideas

Every school has a change of management every now and then and that is totally fine. Actually, I think it is a good thing people change their job or their role within an organisation anyhow every now and then, just to stay ‘fresh’.

But if the new management is not as pro-bilingual education as you would like, you as a coordinator might end up having to ‘fight’ for everything related to bilingual education.

Like team meetings, professional development for teachers or even specific marketing concepts.

Speaking about marketing…

Key Take Away

A new management might have different priorities when it comes to bilingual education

Bilingual education as a marketing tool

The amount of secondary schools offering bilingual education in The Netherlands is no longer really increasing and is quite steady at around 130 schools. (source: Nuffic, 2023)

This makes sense, in a lot of areas of the country there is a school offering a bilingual stream nearby for students.

But it also means that this bilingual stream is what makes the school special. And maybe more attractive to potential new students.

In other words: offering bilingual education might be the unique selling point of the school.

Yet, when I talk with bilingual education coordinators or CLIL coaches, that does not always mean that management puts bilingual education on top of the list of priorities.

“My four team meetings a year are often planned during other important meetings as well” 

A Dutch bilingual education coordinator

Don’t get me wrong, I am quite aware there are many things within a school that require a lot of attention too. And bilingual education is only one of them.

But if there are 10 priorities within a school, one can hardly call it a priority anymore, right?

The results is often that those bilingual team meetings end up being planned during other meetings. If they are planned at all.

Or that teachers who just start out in bilingual education get little training when it comes to CLIL and just have to wing it, resulting in a lot of stress or even demotivation to teach CLIL.

Key Take Away

There can not be 10 priorities. You can have a list of important things, but only 1 priority. And that is not always bilingual education.

Bilingual education as a priority

What would it be like if the school actually puts bilingual education as a priority again? Or at least in the top 3 of things that are important to the school?

If teachers would no longer have to choose between a bilingual education team meeting and another one?

I for one think that it would increase the motivation of teachers that struggle with teaching CLIL. But it could also help if more experienced teachers can share their experiences and help out fellow CLIL teachers.

A couple of years ago I taught a group of about 60 students together with a colleague for a year, co-teaching.

I loved it.

There was so much I could learn from my colleague by just watching him teach and work with students.

And I got the impression the feeling was mutual 😉.

My point is: there is a lot of experience and expertise within your school.

If the teachers in your team would be on the same page, with the same goals and sharing their ideas to get to those goals, what would your team be able to achieve?

Key Take Away

Getting both the teachers and the management on one page is crucial for an effective CLIL implementation.

What about your school?

I am curious to hear about the situation of CLIL or bilingual education in your school. Do you recognise the situation I mentioned? Or is bilingual education already a top priority within your school?

If this is something you recognise and would like to discuss what can be done at your school to improve things, get in touch and let’s discuss this! No strings attached!

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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