Bilingual education: cognitive benefits and policy into practice

Bilingual education: cognitive benefits and policy into practice

The hot topic of language education and the educational implications of learning in more than one language featured as the first Cambridge Horizons seminar, which took place on 27 November 2012. 

At a policy level, language education has been seen by Governments across the world – and notably in the Asia Pacific – as having instrumental importance in many respects. So we set out to investigate what that meant for different people and how a strategy might be implemented.

Education in a national language or a “heritage” language linking to the nation’s cultural inheritance can be part of a strategy to teach national values and encourage students to be rooted in their culture. And language education, including the study of a second or third language, can be encouraged as a means of improving educational outcomes in all subjects.

Dr Peeter Mehisto, author of 'Excellence in Bilingual Education', explored with us some of the complexities of bilingual education and introduced research findings on the cognitive benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism. Professor Amy Tsui, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Teaching and Learning) from the University of Hong Kong, addressed the second part of the seminar title – policy into practice. Drawing from evidence across the world, she described different approaches to bilingual education from various parts of the world and also spoke of the links between bilingual education policy and issues and emotions around national heritage and identity. 

Cambridge Assessment Singapore, a charitable educational organisation, runs a series of 'Cambridge Horizons' events for policy makers, curriculum developers and educators to stay up to date with the latest thinking in educational assessment. These series of discussions – face-to-face, live streaming, ongoing online debate – provide different ways to bring together education experts and stakeholders to explore educational issues affecting the Asia Pacific region.

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