ENGLISH BILINGUAL PROGRAMMES: E.S.O. AND F.P.

Currently two English Bilingual Programmes are offered at our school: one for students in Compulsory Secondary Education (E.S.O.) and the other one for students engaged in vocational training (tourism industry). The first one has now been running for nine years (since 2007), whereas the second one is pretty new, it started last September.

The students who participate in these programmes (at this time more than two hundred) learn several subjects of the curriculum in English: three in Secondary Education and one in vocational training. In E.S.O. the subjects which are taught in the foreign language are:

Physics and Chemistry, Natural Sciences, Biology and Geology, Social Sciences, History, Music and P.E; in vocational training they are Tourist Resources and Housekeeping. That means that English is not only a goal but also a tool with which knowledge about different fields is acquired. Through this Content and Language Integrated Learning approach, learners´skills and understanding are developed and their cognitive processes and communication skills are enhanced.

The teachers who are involved in the programmes are eight (six and two for E.S.O. and vocational training, respectively). Being part of the group of teachers who work to get this bilingual projects through implies retraining as well as commitment to participate actively in the organisation of different events. They attend different training activities – English courses, drama-workshops, job-shadowing periods at other schools abroad and training about Content and Language Integrated Learning approaches (CLIL)- so as to keep up date not only their linguistic competence in English but also their teaching skills. On the other hand, the excellent teamwork and cooperation of all these teachers make posssible the implementation of the activities which are planned at the beginning of each school year.

Concerning the activities carried out throughout the year, English is the language used for communicating, learning and having fun. They are all designed to suit the different levels and stand out for their variety.

On Friday 25 September our school celebrated the European Day of Languages. It was an initiave that came out of this programme and was conducted together with the Department of Extracurrilar Activities and the French Bilingual Programme. Some stanzas of the poem Liberty, by Paul Eluard, were read in different languages (Spanish, Latin, English, French, German, Romanien, Catalan, Arabic and Russian among others) by students of different nationalities. The poem was preceded by an introduction in which three people spoke in Spanish, English and French about the importance of languages and cultural diversity of Europe, which must be preserved and fostered.

One of the most prominent activities is the school exchange. Exchanges are an important step both in encouraging language learning and in fostering inter-cultural understanding. This year two exchanges have been organised with German schools: one with Sophie- Scholl-Berufskolleg Duisburg (North Rhine-Westphalia) for vocational training students, and the other one with Markgraf-Georg- Friedrich-Gymnasium Kulmbach (Bavaria) for students of the fourth year of Secondary Education.

Another experience, which our learners always look forward to, is the 3-day English inmersion course at Moragete Campus (Requena). Last April fifty pupils of the first, second and third year of Secondary Education attended lessons related to different subjects and practiced outdoor activities in this rural setting which is also a perfect place to enjoy the Let us not forget the storytelling and Edgar Allan Poe days, which were organized together with the English department. The first one has now been done for four years: four one- hour performances were shown on 1 February which were watched by over 250 students, some of whom played specific roles on the stage helped by Alan, the storyteller. On 25 and 26 April some groups of the fourth year of ESO and first of Bachillerato also had the chance to go to “Teatro de La Paz” and watch short videos about some of E. A. Poe´s

We must not overlook the interdisciplinary projects involving different subjects, which were also undertaken. One example is “The capsule of time”: the History and English teachers have worked together to carry out this activity with a Japanese school –Spanish and Japanese students wrote letters each other so as to know the others´ culture, traditions and ways of thinking.

What is obviously essential to the success of foreign language learning are language assistants: they bring language and culture alive to our classrooms. An American boy (Tommy) was helping us for three months. He motivated our students to learn more about English and shared their culture and the unique linguistic features of their home region through talks and local expressions. We take this opportunity to call on the educational administration to strengthen the Language Assistants programme and annually assign language assistants to schools.

We are convinced that bilingual projects are relevant in most learning contexts and can be instrumental in improving the quality of education and expanding educational opportunities for young people. They must be strengthened, but in order to do so more human and material resources are needed.

Mª Antonia Naharro García

Coordinator of the English Bilingual Programmes

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