Foreign and Bilingual Language Education in the UK and Spain: A Study of Similarities and Differences
Language learning, as a means to promote intercultural awareness and communication as well as to help citizens prosper professionally, is one of today’s main goals of educational systems around the world. In Europe, several guidelines have been published, and significant efforts have been devoted to encouraging the development of the quality of foreign and bilingual language education to improve citizens’ communicative skills. Although there were attempts to foster foreign language proficiency in some parts of the United Kingdom between the 1990s and the early 2000s, the country has not traditionally considered languages among its educational priorities. Nonetheless, Brexit seems to have increased the need to learn languages in the country. In some other European countries, however, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), an additive bilingual approach, has been implemented since the early 2000. Considering that the nations in the United Kingdom and the regions in Spain have the freedom to organise educational affairs, an analysis of the provision of foreign and bilingual language education in the United Kingdom and Spain appears relevant. This paper presents the results of a systematic review of 2012-2020 literature in the field of foreign and bilingual language education in both contexts. The differences that exist within the United Kingdom concerning foreign language teaching are discussed, and information in relation to the provision of CLIL in some Spanish regions is also examined. The findings show that foreign language teaching is provided across the United Kingdom, whereas bilingual education is offered in the form of Welsh-, Irish-, and Gaelic-medium education mainly, although CLIL is also implemented in England.
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