The effectiveness of bilingual teaching and learning

Dr Hanan Khalifa

This report discusses the bilingual approach used in schools supported by CfBT (now Education Development Trust) in partnership with ADEC in Abu Dhabi.

It is based on research conducted in eight schools during 2010. The report suggests that the bilingual approach adopted in Abu Dhabi is providing a good environment for academic improvement, achievement and enjoyment. The bilingual approach is likely to promote the development of future school-leavers who are critical thinkers, biliterate in Arabic and English, and secure and confident in their ability to help take their nation forward in line with Abu Dhabi’s 2030 Vision. The report specifically identifies:

  • a strong belief on the part of students and parents that the approach to bilingual learning was leading to higher levels of student performance and increased motivation
  • evidence that students were finding significant time outside school to apply their bilingual skills and to support their own learning in both English and Arabic
  • widespread use of more student-centered teaching, which was providing good opportunities for bilingual learning
  • principals, teachers and parents largely supporting a bilingual approach that improves students’ understanding in English medium subjects such as mathematics, as well as improved student proficiency in English
  • principals and teachers reporting that bilingual teaching can improve student behaviour and motivation
  • a widespread belief that bilingual teaching supports proficiency in both Arabic and English, with no negative implications on Arabic proficiency
  • a view on the part of most students and parents that bilingual teaching does not weaken student national identity.