The importance of multilingualism and multiculturalism in today’s world is unquestionable. In this light, since the publication of the White Paper on Education and Training (European Commission, 1995), the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe, 2001, 2018), and the Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity Promotion Plan (European Commission, 2003), European educational administrations have begun to promote language learning and intercultural education among young generations to respond to the requirements of the 21st century.
To this purpose, bilingual education has become widespread due to its potential for the language learning process (in neurolinguistic terms, but also for its many cognitive, social, intercultural, academic, and professional benefits; Christoffels et al., 2015; Hemsley et al., 2014; Hipfner-Boucher et al., 2014; Lee et al., 2015; Rodríguez-Pujadas et al., 2014) of students all over the world. With these assets in mind, European countries, including Spain, implement bilingual education at schools aiming to improve the foreign language proficiency of students at all educational stages.
The scientific literature is profuse when analysing the implementation of bilingual education in Spain (e.g., Campillo et al., 2019; Fernández-Sanjurjo et al., 2019); however, little research focuses on neither the perceptions of students who have already graduated from bilingual programs regarding their linguistic success (in terms of intercultural competence, employability and mobility) nor their employment situation.
This communication analyses how both participation in Spanish bilingual education and employment contribute to speakers’ higher perceptions of linguistic success. Two research questions are established: (1) Do participants in Spanish bilingual education currently working have higher perceptions of their linguistic success?; and (2) Do participants in Spanish bilingual education who have ever worked abroad have higher perceptions of their linguistic success?
A web-based questionnaire is used to determine potential differences between Spanish bilinguals currently working and those who have worked abroad at some point in their life. First, the survey is distributed by Facebook after using Facebook Audience Insights for sample targeting. Then, SPSS V22.0 is employed for statistical analysis, applying the Mann-Whitney U-test and Wilcoxon signed-rank test to determine differences between groups.
The sample consisted of 741 subjects: 263 men (35.5%), 472 women (63.7%), and 0.8% did not provide this datum. The average age was 39.9 (SD = 14.6), whereas the average time of study in bilingual programs was 7.92 (SD = 6.35).
Findings show that 19.2% of the respondents have participated in bilingual education and 65.2% are currently employed. Furthermore, 32.7% have ever worked abroad. In both cases, perceptions of linguistic success (globally and in terms of intercultural competence, employability, and mobility) are higher than in unemployed respondents and in those who have never worked abroad.
This suggests the potential of Spanish bilingual education, at least concerning speakers’ perceptions) despite criticism to these programs (e.g., Paran, 2013).
The results of this study are part of the research project ‘Facing Bilinguals: Study of Bilingual Education Programmes’ Results through Social Data Analysis’ (Ref. no. EDU2017-84800-R), granted by the 2017 competitive call of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.
Documentación de apoyo a la presentación ONLINE de la ponencia