The reality of bilingual education in the Community of Madrid

Susana de la Nuez at ¿Hay Derecho? uses “scam” rather than “reality”:

Llamaron a los profesores de primaria del colegio, les presentaron el programa educativo y ante su manifiesto temor, les propusieron “trabajar” su inglés. Algunos se fueron becados a Irlanda (tres meses), otros recibieron clases intensivas de inglés (tres meses) y otros decidieron confiar en sus conocimientos o experiencia como docentes (superior a tres meses) y esperar a ver cómo iba la cosa. A la profe Lola, tras llegar de Irlanda, se le asignó la clase de 1ºB. Y mi hija comenzó su andadura por el sistema bilingüe…

The paradox of studying the basics of language in the English class, while the science class presupposes an advanced knowledge of that language:

En definitiva, mientras en inglés trabajan el verbo to be y los más avanzados comienzan a preguntar por el tiempo (“Isitcloudy? Isitsunny?”), en “Science” estudian la fotosíntesis o el ciclo del agua.

Pero entonces, ¿cómo es posible que los niños aprueben la asignatura? Muchos estudios hablan de fracaso y abandono escolar pero siempre en etapas posteriores y en ningún caso con relación a la enseñanza bilingüe, ¿por qué? Porque los niños no suspenden las asignaturas impartidas en inglés. “¿Y cómo es posible, si no saben inglés?” Pues muy fácil…

Read the rest. Excuses: I don’t know how typical this is; it’s better than Catalonia, where bilingualism is officially regarded as an affront to the Nation’s Glorious Martyrs; throw mud against a wall and some will stick…

I’m trying to think of how bilingual education was implemented in Holland – I think it was more or less along these lines, but the comparison is unfair, because of the proximity of Dutch to English and traditional popular attainment. Any other comparatives? Perhaps the best solution is invasion – tourism has surely achieved far more for people’s English skills than decades of British Councils.

Similar posts

Last updated 19/05/2015

Barcelona (1399):

English language (462):

Föcked Translation (414): I posted to a light-hearted blog called Fucked Translation over on Blogger from 2007 to 2016, when I was often in Barcelona. Its original subtitle was "What happens when Spanish institutions and businesses give translation contracts to relatives or to some guy in a bar who once went to London and only charges 0.05€/word." I never actually did much Spanish-English translation (most of my work is from Dutch, French and German) but I was intrigued and amused by the hubristic Spanish belief, then common, that nepotism and quality went hand in hand, and by the nemeses that inevitably followed.

Spain (1881):

Spanish language (504):

Translation (788):


  1. Entirely unscientific study but I've met a few youths in the last few weeks, some of them finishing high school, some just out of uni, all educated at Catalan state schools. I've been impressed by everyone's level of English.

    I'm fairly sure that they must have all had private lessons, of course.

  2. I'd ditto that – and the change in a decade has been extraordinary. Other sources: Justin Bieber? Tourism? Have the advances been so great in places where young people focus more on "traditional" culture and where no tourist sets foot?

  3. Good questions. That would definitely need more analysis. Yes, everyone I've met has probably been educated in BCN metro area, if not the city itself.

    Perhaps there has been an increase in the number of native language teachers? I know that about 12 1/2 years ago, a school in Cerdanyola wouldn't give me a job because I didn't have a certificate, but did give a job to our neighbour, a local woman, because she had done well in the course the year before. I couldn't understand anything she said in English.

    If I'm not mistaken, English tuition used to be controlled by a cabal of 2-3 companies which have all gone bust now. Perhaps that has helped?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *