THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
Since its inception in 2003, students at the Bilingual Montessori School of Lund (BMSL) receive English and French immersion and education from the pre-school years and through grades F-9. Only native-speaking English and French speaking pedagogues are employed to instruct in these languages.
Educational methods are based on language immersion where the goal for the children/students is to achieve a functional multilingualism. BMSL is Swedish, French and English.
The language immersion method means that the children/students converse in all three languages and that instruction/teaching is done in all three languages. The school staff is French-, Swedish- or English-speaking and always use their native language with the children/students. Swedish, French and English are a part of each day for the children/students.
Although encouraged to try to speak English or French from an early age students are initially not required to reply in English or French. Students are given time to build confidence in the language and find themselves secure before speaking a new language. Seeing the individual needs of the child is an important component in BMSL’s vision and language education: some students dare to speak quickly with numerous mistakes, others are cautious and wait a few years before speaking, but all students are given the patience and support they need before the take on the challenge of speaking a new language. Even if not producing orally, students still hear, see, read and often write the language. Their communication skills are always being nurtured by the immersion process and supported by the strong presence of multilingual material and native speakers at the school.
Language teachers spend a great deal of time and energy developing their own material because material produced in Sweden is often at too low a level for BMSL students. The students are often well past the goals for students in their grade level, and teachers must find creative solutions to create and extended curriculum and more challenging material.
Students ultimately follow the Swedish curriculum, and results for the National Test in English have been excellent. We have not adopted a metric to measure the success of students’ fluency, however a large part of the school’s success is based on how positive the parents and students are toward the concept and how pleased they are by the results of multilingualism at an early age.
English language education has been so successful at BMSL, that math instruction for grades 7-9 is held entirely in English, with National Test scores in math still showing excellent results.
Numerous students have even successfully transferred to international French or English schools outside of Sweden and parents and students have expressed appreciation for how BMSL has ably prepared their child.
After receiving the award, BMSL was eager to share the news with Lund and the school’s community. We celebrated the award with the students and held a special prize announcement.
The award has been mentioned and highlighted at lectures where BMSL teachers have lectured on the school’s successful methods.
As BMSL was a young school with a unique concept, the award served to confirm and validate the school’s pedagogical vision. Resources from the award were used to strengthen the pedagogical vision, i.e. building a strong multilingual library and investing in material in BMSL’s three languages.
THE NELLIP NETWORK’S PERSPECTIVE
The project is consistent with the priorities of the European Commission in the field of language learning in many ways:
The school has a multilingual approach where the goal is to achieve a functional multilingualism. It is a bilingual, or rather a trilingual, school where all three languages French, Swedish and English have equal value.
Early Language Learning: The language immersion method is implemented from pre-school up to grade nine of the secondary school i.e. children from 1 up to 15 years old. The aim of the immersion method for very young children is a faster language learning as well as improvement of their mother tongue skills. This corresponds very well with the European Policies to learn at least two foreign languages from a very early age.
Cultural and social approach: The language immersion at BMSL has become a natural and integrated part of every child´s/student´s school day. In all subjects the content and the language learning are fully integrated thus giving motivation and making language learning attractive to the students.
THE NATIONAL AGENCY’S PERSPECTIVE
The Bilingual Montessori School of Lund school receives the award for the complete use of language immersion where learners keep their desire to learn language and use it in a natural way. Children achieve in an early age very good language skills in English, Swedish and French. Interdisciplinary projects stimulate further learning and materials are available in the three different languages. The school is also involved in issues on health and sustainable development and engage in an enjoyable way their pupils to become global citizens.
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