Greetings from the Bilingual Team
We would like to welcome you to Centro Cultural Salmantino’s new bilingual section of the school’s website.
It is our hope that it will allow you to learn more about this exciting new project that is shaping the future of our students.
Many families still have a lot of questions about what bilingualism really means and how it will affect their children. This section provides you with general information about the bilingual plan at Centro Cultural Salmantino, its main objectives, the courses currently within the program, activities related to learning English and much more.
We also offer a list of links that we feel families will find helpful.
Should you have any additional question, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Raquel Sánchez de la Peña
Our Bilingual Project
What is Bilingualism?
Bilingualism is, simply put, the capacity to communicate in two languages indistinctly.
Although the use of the word “bilingual” is fashionable these days, we find it to be a rather unfortunate term, since it gives the wrong impression about the society in which we live in and tends to create false expectations for families.
Bilingual education does not pretend to make students completely bilingual, but through bilingual teaching techniques, we can help our children reach high levels of proficiency that will help them meet the demands of the future.
It will also give them the opportunity to acquire the language in a more natural way.
Bilingualism at Centro Cultural Salmantino
Our school belongs to two bilingual programs: The Comunidad de Madrid and BEDA (organized by Escuelas Católicas).
This ambitious project started back in the 2004/2005 school year and has been the result of hard work and a great economic and personal effort.
Bilingual schools financed by public funds now make English a part of the primary school core curriculum. There were 26 participating schools the first year, offering bilingual education in the Comunidad de Madrid.
Spanish language, Maths and English are now core curriculum subjects and a basic part of the students’ education and training. Other subjects taught in English include: Physical Education, Arts and Social Science. A bilingual school must teach a minimal of 30% of its school hours in English.
The BEDA program is organized and run by Escuelas Católicas de Madrid (FERE) and Cambridge ESOL. It consists of phasing in bilingual education and taking into account the educational project of each school, as well as broadening different aspects of daily life at the school, its curriculum and school environment.
BEDA attempts to optimize ESL teaching at schools through three basic points:
1) Gradual increase in both time and quality of ESL teaching.
2) Specific teacher training programs.
3) Use of external assessment of students via the Cambridge ESOL exams.
Bilingual Courses at Centro Cultural Salmantino
As we mentioned before, bilingualism is being phased in one course at a time.
Currently, only First and Second grades in Primary School belong to the bilingual project.
The number of academic hours per week allocated to bilingual lesson is broken down as follows:
5 hours of English (one hora a day) and each class has a teacher and an auxiliar.
3 hours of Physical Education.
1 hour of Arts.
Standarized Tests: Cambridge ESOL Exams
As members of BEDA, the students at Centro Cultural Salmantino have the opportunity to sit standarized exams given by Cambridge ESOL at the University of Cambridge.
These tests are the most highly regarded measurements of English in the world, by both educational institutions and the companies.
Centro Cultural Salmantino has structured the offer to take these tests in the following way:
4th grade of Primary School: Starters (Pre A1) / Movers (A1)
6th grade of Primary School: Movers (A1) / Flyers (A2)
2nd grade of Secondary School: Preliminary English Test (PET) (B1)
4th grade of Secondary School: First Certificate in English (FCE) (B2)
Taking an external test is one of the best ways of sizing your level in a neutral way, and Cambridge ESOL is, in our opinión, the most reliable and trusted, as well as highly regarded organization of its kind today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will my son/daughter be bilingual?
The perfectly bilingual person does not exist. There will always be one language with which they feel more confortable, no matter how small that difference is.
As professionals of ESL teaching, we do not hope to produce fully bilingual students in the sense that many people might imagine, and we ask the familias to have realistic expectations too. This is very important in order to avoid future frustrations down the road.
However, we strongly believe that we can help our children to use English in a practical and natural way and that it will become another tool for them in the future. That is our aim. It is perfectly possible for our students to reach very high levels of English that will allow them to use either one without a problem.
Through bilingual education we attempt to create an environment which makes language become a natural part of their lives and thereby conducive to learning.
Will I be able to speak to my child in English at home? / Why doesn’t my child speak to me in English at home?
Human beings use language as a form of communication and in this sense children can be very effective. They do now usually waste time speaking to someone in a different language if both persons are native-speakers of another. In addition, the mode of communication is closely related to the social relationship and very difficult to break once established.
In short, don’t expect the unexpected. The fact that your children do not speak at home doesn’t necessarily mean they are not learning the language.
Will I be able to tell if my son is improving?
Learning a language is a long process that requires years of training.
In a way, it can be likened to learning how to play a musical instrument. For many years it may seem as if the child is progressing very little, but later on it, all begins to come together.
What’s more, picking up on the differences is not easy for those who are not experts in language acquisition. In the past year we have noticed enormous improvements which we perceive through tiny details.
How can we foster English learning at home?
This is one of the most common questions we get. Many parents ask us about different books, songs, methods and material, and they want to know if they are adequate for home.
In addition, the arrival of Internet has allowed us to access different activities in English with greater ease. You can find songs, games, videos stories, books, news, etc. And DVDs and TDT televisión, both of which have the option of watching the programs in original version.
In our opinión, generally everything and anything helps, and we strongly encourage families to try them, but also warn against pressuring kids excessively.