What is bilingual education?

July 11, 2016 12:04 pm Published by

“The vision for Inuit education set out in this Strategy is to graduate bilingual Inuit children who speak the Inuit language and at least one of Canada’s two official languages, and who possess the skills and knowledge to contribute with pride and confidence to the 21st century.”

National Strategy on Inuit Education, 2011

Following the National Committee on Inuit Education’s vision, the Akuttujuuk network is working to support effective bilingual education in Inuit Nunangat.

Bilingual education is when learning takes place in two languages. Two languages are taught as subjects, for example, Inuktut reading and writing and English reading and writing. Also, other subjects are taught through two languages, for example, science taught in Inuktitut, or math taught in English.

In effective bilingual education, both languages are highly valued. In schools, principals, teachers, school content, and activities show that both languages are respected and needed. Bilingual education builds on the languages’ importance and use in families, communities, and workplaces.

Bilingual education is lifelong. Language learning that leads to strong bilingualism starts in homes and continues through adulthood.

In Inuit and other Indigenous communities, bilingual education is part of broader efforts to strengthen and revitalize knowledge and use of the Indigenous language alongside national languages like English or French.

Research around the world shows that bilingual education is good education. Bilingual education produces excellent educational outcomes. Graduates from bilingual programs have two (or more) languages, and also confidence, creativity, and skills to engage with families, communities, work, and further learning.

What examples of effective bilingual education have you observed in your community?

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