Category Chrisdtian School Education
Title Bilingual Education in a Globalized World
Author/s Stuart Salazar, MEd
Preview Not all schools are in a position to offer a high quality bilingual program, so ACSI has developed an English as a Foreign Language learning program specially designed for schools who are not ready or able to be fully bilingual but want to equip their students through a robust language arts program in English.
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It is estimated that between one-half and two-thirds of the world's population are either bilingual or multilingual (Baker 2011). The need to speak a second language has become almost an imperative in many regions where the opportunities for professional and economic growth are directly linked to the ability to communicate in a second language.

That is particularly true for Latin America and the English language. Many families are seeking good English Language Learning programs (ELL) on top of the regular school instructional programs. They know that learning English will give their children better opportunities for higher education and future international jobs. English has become the lingua franca of the world.

Christian bilingual schools are blooming in countries like the Dominican Republic and Honduras, where this education modality is having widespread growth. This type of education is even more prevalent in countries near the U.S., such as Mexico and the countries of Central America, the Caribbean, and the northern part of South America, such as Colombia and Ecuador. The farther south you go, the fewer bilingual schools you find.

Christian schools are at the forefront of excellence in bilingual education in the region; more impressively, they offer tuition at an affordable cost. Most other private schools charge high tuition fees for a bilingual program. To be a student at a premium American school in any major Central American city means paying a monthly tuition of at least two minimum salaries. By contrast, Christian schools seek to serve the emerging middle class by keeping reasonable tuition fees for an education that is worth accrediting. Their services are in high demand. Colegio Cristiano Las Palmas in the Dominican Republic has doubled its student body in less than three years, and the waiting list is dramatically long.

Many schools may highlight the "International" or "Bilingual" in their name, but there is no way to tell if the instructional program they offer is truly as international or bilingual as they claim. Even Ministries of Education are not clear about what makes a true bilingual school. For that purpose, ACSI Latin America has held three consultations on bilingual education in Guatemala (2010), the Dominican Republic, (2012) and Costa Rica (2015). The outcome of the first consultation was a set of 10 new indicators that were incorporated in the ACSI accreditation program for Latin America. Those indicators have been validated and improved in the subsequent consultations and have helped schools determine what it takes to have an excellent bilingual education program.

Half a dozen Christian schools in the region have completed the ACSI accreditation process since 2012, and a dozen more are in the process of completing it, including the fulfillment of the bilingual standards for those who choose to certify the quality of their ELL program. Graduates of such schools are well equipped to apply for admission into North American colleges and universities.

Not all schools are in a position to offer a high quality bilingual program, so ACSI has developed an English as a Foreign Language learning program specially designed for schools who are not ready or able to be fully bilingual but want to equip their students through a robust language arts program in English. The best part is that this curriculum series is distinctively Christian in its principles and values!

Christian schools in Latin America are convinced that their graduates will be more effective in fulfilling the Great Commission if they are fully equipped with communication skills like the English language. For that purpose, ACSI is strengthening its member schools in the region with resources like bilingual accreditation and an EFL curriculum. Now it's time for our neighbors in North America to learn some Spanish! ¡Con mucho gusto les enseñamos! (We will be glad to teach you!)    


Stuart Salazar, MEd, has served as the director for ACSI Latin America since 1990. He provides leadership to four offices responsible for providing resources, programs, and services to hundreds of schools in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

REFERENCE

Baker, C. 2011. Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 5th Ed. USA: McNaughton & Gunn Ltd.

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