So you’ve written hundreds of flashcards, you’ve read for hours and you’ve watched all 15 series of Grey’s Anatomy in English. You even looked up most of the words you didn’t understand in a dictionary. Now it’s time to actually use the words you’ve learned, by speaking and writing.
Last year, we wrote about some of the differences between the bilingual education programmes in the various parts of Spain. Over the coming months, we’ll look at some of the regional programmes in more detail, starting with Murcia.
Last October we attended the CIEB bilingual conference in Badajoz, which was a very valuable learning experience for us. This year, the conference is being held in our home town of Granada, so naturally we’ll be going. However, this time we’re not just going to listen and learn – we’ll also be giving a short talk and a workshop to share some of our expertise.
After running a bilingual programme for ten years, the region of Castile and Leon is making significant changes to its model of bilingual education. Change is never popular with everyone, and this case is no exception. But what are the main controversies?
A recent report on bilingual education in Andalusia concludes that bilingual programmes improve students’ English skills and Spanish writing skills, without any detrimental impact on their performance in the non-language subjects taught in English. In addition, these programmes tend to reduce differences between pupils from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
Most people enjoy watching TV and films, so it’s a very attractive way to learn a language if it works. Many people believe it does: the fact that most programmes in Spain are dubbed is often given as a reason why the Spanish don’t learn better English.
English spelling and pronunciation are famously difficult. Whoever established the official spelling of English words was either drunk, mad or both. One of the consequences of this is that there are lots of homophones – words with completely different meanings and spellings that sound exactly the same.
In our last post about building vocabulary, we talked about flashcards and spaced repetition. This time we’ll look at reading. It may be one of the most obvious ways to expand your vocabulary, but it’s also one of the best.
It’s that time of year again: Christmas parties, shopping for presents, spending time with your family and eating too much food. For most people, it’s a time to have fun and enjoy yourself. For others, it’s above all an important religious festival. And for yet others, it’s all overrated: “Bah! Humbug!” as Scrooge famously says in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Unsurprisingly, most English idioms that refer to Christmas assume it’s a happy time of year.
For most crimes, the government decides what we are – and particularly are not – allowed to do. With crimes against language, the situation is a bit different. To begin with, you won’t normally be fined or put in jail for breaking the rules of grammar. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any rules – or does it? The answer is, it depends.
When learning a language, it’s obviously important to learn grammar and to practice speaking and listening. But without vocabulary, you won’t get anywhere. To be able to communicate effectively and understand what people are saying, you need to know lots of words. For many people, this is the single biggest challenge. In this first post about building vocabulary we’ll look at two of the possible approaches: vocabulary lists and spaced repetition.
When learning a new language, one of the first things you learn is how to greet people. With English, you’ll be taught “Hello”, “Hi”, “Good morning”, “Good afternoon”, “Good evening” and perhaps “How do you do?” However, when you meet native English speakers, or watch English television programmes, you quickly realise that there are lots of other ways to say hello.
In June 2018, Madrid’s regional government published its evaluation of Madrid’s bilingual programme. The report presents data about the impacts of the programme on the students’ level of English, as well as their performance in other subjects.
One problem when discussing bilingual programmes is that most people – whether parents, teachers, politicians or journalists – tend to assume that bilingual schools in the different parts of Spain are very similar to one another. In this post we’ll present some of the key differences between the bilingual programmes at secondary school level.
One of the most inspiring things at the recent conference in Badajoz was having a chance to see all of the great work being done by teachers to make bilingual education successful at their schools. The rules on bilingual programmes vary greatly from region to region, as do the backgrounds of students from school to school, so there is no single “correct” way to provide a bilingual education. Fortunately, dedicated teachers are testing different approaches to find out what works for them, in their schools and with their students, while also meeting the legal requirements of the programmes in their parts of Spain.
We’ve been having some fairly extreme weather lately. Here are some English idioms related to weather with an explanation of what they mean.
Critics often say that bilingual schools in Spain aren’t really bilingual, because students don’t become fully bilingual. By bilingual, they mean able to speak two languages “perfectly” – in terms of grammar, vocabulary and accent. But even people with an exceptionally good grasp of the language will never quite reach the level of a native person with a similar educational background. So if it is unrealistic for Spanish students to become bilingual in this sense, why are Spanish schools called “bilingual”.
A couple of weeks ago we posted about which languages Europeans speak, based on the results of a 2012 Eurobarometer survey. The survey also gives lots of interesting information about how Europeans learn languages. Although many people’s only experience of language learning is through lessons at school, there are lots of other ways to improve your language skills.
This week, for some light relief, we have a post on some English idioms. Like all languages, English has thousands of idioms and sayings that can be confusing to foreigners. Even native speakers get some of them mixed up. Here are just a few idioms that involve animals, with an explanation of what they mean.
In Spain, there is a debate between people who emphasise the need for Spanish people to improve their English, and those who argue that Spain should focus more on promoting Spanish as a world language. After all, more people have Spanish as their first language than English, so why do Spanish people need English?
Today is the European Day of Languages. The European Union’s objective is for European citizens to be able to communicate in two languages in addition to their mother tongue, but which languages do Europeans actually speak?
LinguaFrame was founded by Benedict Barclay and Rebecca Jégou in 2011, with the specific goal of publishing textbooks in English for bilingual schools in Spain. We embarked on this journey after speaking to teachers at bilingual schools who were enthusiastic about the concept of bilingual education, but who were unhappy with their current textbooks in English for non-language subjects such as geography, science and maths.
Welcome to the LinguaFrame blog. We’ve now been publishing textbooks for bilingual schools* and English language learning materials for 7 years, and here we’ll be blogging about some of the things that we’ve learned during that period. We’ll also post about some of the curiosities of the English language, strategies for language learning, the differences between English and Spanish, and bilingualism in general. Many of our posts will be available in English and Spanish. Comments are welcome, in English or Spanish. If you’re a teacher and you would like to contribute a guest post, please…