UNS Edutech

Theoretical Foundations of Bilingual Education

A Deep Dive Into the Aspects of Theoretical Foundations of Bilingual Education 

The “theoretical foundations of bilingual education”; This is a vast concept, and it can be confusing for the reader to understand in just one look. To elaborate the whole concept, we must first understand what bilingual education is, why it is different from other education, its advantages, and the theory behind this education. To move further, let’s discuss some basic things first. 

Bilingual education

“Bilingual”, this word means the ability to speak two languages. Teaching academic content in two languages, a native and a secondary language, with varied amounts of each language used depending on the programme model, is known as bilingual education. This education, as opposed to just teaching a second language as a subject, refers to using two languages as a mode of instruction for pupils and is regarded as part of or the entire school curriculum. It is an initiative to provide local school districts more flexibility in federal programmes for Limited English Proficient (LEP) students, allowing them to choose the best teaching method.

Benefits of bilingual education

Bilingual education is a powerful tool for accelerating children’s learning and altering the human brain’s structure. Some of its advantages are:

Improvement in cognitive development

Children who have learned a second language excel at tasks that require creative thinking, pattern recognition, and problem-solving. Young learners gain a more comprehensive comprehension of their home language and a stronger linguistic awareness.

Dementia resistance

According to a recent study, people who speak more than one language develop dementia symptoms five years later on average and can better cope with brain malfunction than their monolingual counterparts.

Memory enhancement

Children who acquire a second or third language have stronger recollections and are more intellectually innovative than those who speak their first language. Bilingual people, on average, remember names, directions, and items better than monolingual persons.

Improvements in the brain’s executive function

The executive function is a command system that guides our attention processes while planning, solving issues, and completing other intellectually demanding tasks. Bilingual persons are better at distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information, which allows them to concentrate better and be more effective thinkers and decision-makers.

Improved academic performance

Since the mind is forced to detect, find meaning, and communicate in various languages, bilingual pupils’ brain function improves. Students who received a bilingual education and spoke many languages outperformed their monolingual peers in math, reading, and vocabulary, according to a 32-year study by Thomas and Collier from George Mason University.

The theory behind bilingual education

The foundations of bilingual education include common sense, experience, and research. According to common sense, children will not absorb academic subject information if they do not comprehend the language of instruction. According to research, some studies show that students from minority-language backgrounds have historically had higher dropout rates and worse achievement scores. Finally, based on language acquisition and education research, there is a foundation for bilingual education. According to the developmental interdependence theory, progress in a second language relies on a well-developed first language. According to the threshold theory, a kid must achieve a particular degree of skill in both the native and second language to reap the benefits of bilingualism.

Final  Outcome

Both language-majority and language-minority populations benefit greatly from bilingual education. It is a teaching method that allows pupils to grasp academic content while also learning two languages–a skill is becoming increasingly valuable in the early twenty-first century.


1. Why is bilingual education taught in schools? 

Children who begin learning a second or third language at an early age can better develop communication skills and reading levels. Children who grow up in multilingual households understand how language works and have a stronger foundation for future language learning.

2. Who initiated bilingual education?

The Cuban Revolution ushered in the contemporary era of bilingual education in the United States. After 1959, most Cubans abandoning their island were from the professional and commercial classes. They were determined to prosper in their new English-speaking homeland while keeping their language and culture.

 3. Is bilingual education a modern invention?

Bilingual education is not a modern invention. Ohio was the first state to pass a bilingual education statute in 1839, allowing parents to seek German-English instruction. In 1847, Louisiana established a similar rule for French and English, and the New Mexico Territory followed suit in 1850. Around a dozen states had approved similar legislation by the nineteenth century. Bilingual education was available in many places outside of the state, in languages as diverse as Norwegian, Italian, Polish, Czech, and Cherokee.