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Bilingual Education Programs in Australia


Research Essay: Societal Bilingualism. 

Bilingual study is a debatable topic in Australia, which proves that the bilingual study should be cultivated among the young people of Australia, which will cater to the social, economic and cultural needs of the people (Schwartz & Verschik, 2013). Along with the immigration of the people in the country the population of the country increased, and thus it affected the school system to a great extend (Sullivan, Jorgensen, Boaler & Lerman, 2013). The Australia government supported the policy of teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to the schools, especially for those students for whom the English language is not the first language, because they belong from such a home English is not the language of the native speakers. The particular policy helped in promoting the notion of tolerance towards every ethnicity, religion and for the people of every language (Dooley & May, 2013).

Bilingual Education (BE) is about teaching all the subjects like mathematics and social studies in two different languages, and it does not provide emphasis only on teaching the language itself. Bilingual studies, to be more precise, are a way of providing instruction to the students in two different languages (O’Connor, O’Connor, Kvalsvig & Goldfeld, 2014).

Immersion technique is a way of teaching bilingual education to the students, where the students are immersed in one particular way, where the instruction that is being provided to the students is done with the help of one particular instructional language. The particular method helps the students in developing a good proficiency in both the languages and these are the native as well as in the second language (Bianco, 2015).

The other kind of bilingual education is the two-way immersion program that helps in constructing a bilingual program. The particular method has wide acceptance in many countries, such as in the countries like United States. The reason behind this wide acceptance is the fact that it integrates people having English as their native language and those who do not use English as their native language. In this particular way of teaching or approach, the two kinds of languages are used to provide instruction to the people there in the classroom (Menken & Solorza, 2014).

The people with the Arabic language as their native language could not gain much proficiency in the English language as compared to people of other bilingual group. The people who have Arabic as their native language have good proficiency in Arabic but not much of proficiency in the English language. The Arabic people treat English language is a language that is of not much importance and thus, the respect they have towards the English language is not very good (Garrity, Aquino-Sterling, Van Liew & Day, 2016).

Today both the government and the people living in Australia, supports the bilingual way of instruction and the support that was there for the monolingual way of providing instruction to the people has moved away. The Two Way of Bilingual Education has turned out to be effective for the students because in this way of education the people of both the category is immersed in one place and the instruction is being provided in two different languages. 

Two-way Immersion Bilingual Program

The two-way bilingual education program is one of the most important programs that are being adopted by the schools and the schools have adopted this particular program with a particular goal. The goal that is being adopted ensures that the students who are there in the program should develop high level of bilingualism. The development of the high level of bilingualism would ensure that there would be a high level of cross-culture awareness. Along with it, there will be high level of bilingualism and bi-literacy, and along with it, there would be high level of academic achievement from the part of the student, who participate in the bilingual program. The bilingual program, or rather the two-way immersion bilingual program is favorable not only for those who are belonging to the majority group but at the same time it is favorable for those who are belonging to the minority group.

There are other methods as well that can be in corporate in the bilingual method of education, but most of the times the schools do not prefer to incorporate these ways because the ways have certain drawbacks attached to it, which is why it is compared as an inferior method of providing education to the students. The other different kind of approaches that are included in it, are the ESL approach, the pullout, and the transitional and the maintenance approach. The others approaches are not preferred by the schools and one of the main reasons behind are the fact that these approaches are not only subtractive but at the same time, the approach is assimilative in nature at the same time. The process are termed as assimilative and at the same time they are termed as subtractive because, the processes are responsible for the declination of the proficiency that the students have in their native language (Anghel, Cabrales, & Carro 2015).

The Pullout ESL program is such a program where the students have to leave their classrooms or it can be said that the students have to leave their classroom, and they have to enter such an ESL classroom, where there are instructions, that are being provided to them, to develop their proficiency. The submersion program has the usage of English language 100% of the time and on the contrary, the maintenance program helps the minority students in developing the native or the home language of the minority students. The transitional approach on the other hand, uses the dominant language of the schools as well as of the society, to act as a bridge between providing instruction exclusively to the students. Therefore, due to all these reasons, it is important to such a program that provides emphasis to the English as well as the native language and thus the two-way immersive program has been chosen.

The particular ABC program that is being used to impart the English language to the Arabic students living in Australia is mainly a program that is content based. According to this particular program, the language is not something that is being learned at the first place and then the people are using it. Language is more than that, language is learnt actually when the people use it in their daily life, that is the main essence of the language. Many scholars and critics have seen language as a tool that the children may use to understand both the society and its member (Marschark, Tang & Knoors, 2014). The traditional method of language learning, as it is practiced in different schools of Saudi Arabia, language is being compartmentalize only as another separate language, not as something that is the part of the cognitive, social and the academic development. The traditional method neither uses the interaction, not it uses the methods that are required for learning the subject. The content based instruction program, helps student in mapping thoughts and the meanings of that new language that the student is learning. Moreover, the language communication, in the academic context helps in building that context that would help in learning new language. Thus, this type of program helps in integrating language for better learning and skills and at the same time it help in gaining those skills that have effects for long-term.

Benefits of Bilingual Education

In case of Content Language Integrated Learning program, the foreign language is being used as the mode or the medium of instruction for teaching the different subjects to the pupil. The particular way or the particular program actually comes with two main aim or goal and the two main aim or goal are the, content learning, and the simultaneous learning of the language that is foreign to many people. There are 4Cs in the Content Language Integrated Learning or in the CLIL program, and these 4Cs are, the Content or the Subject Matter, the Cognition or the thinking, Culture or the global citizen relationship and most importantly the Communication or the language. The participant and the external agent of this particular program, which comprises of the teachers, student, and at the same time the researchers, helps in exploring the interrelationship that is there in the framework of the 4Cs. The most important part of the CLIL program is that it does not consider the learning of the foreign language as something that is the part of learning, just any other language (Umana, 2014). It does not treat the foreign language as something, which is very different, from the other subjects that are there. Therefore, the language lies there in a different compartment. Many scholars consider this kind of learning as an economical learning because in this particular type of learning two things are taught in one slot or class, to be precise. The CLIL learning or program is considered as an important program and one of the most popular program because it is something that is being used in the state such as Saudi Arabia and United States. Therefore, the particular form of learning has gained international status, and thus it is popular and widely accepted form of learning.

In case of using the immersion education program as a mode of providing bilingual education to the people it is important to keep certain things in mind. The first thing that should be kept in the mind is that in the initial years the students or the pupils should be encouraged to learn the native language, which is also being termed as L1 and as the student gain proficiency he/she should be encouraged to learn the foreign language, or the L2.

The bilingual learning programs are those programs that help in motivating and encouraging the students if a measured program or approach is followed in this particular case then the amount of motivation would be huge. The measured approach includes two different models that are widely accepted and this includes the 90/10 model and the 50/50 model. In case of using 90/10 model one makes sure that, the native language is used at greater amount as a medium of instruction. For instance, if a program is using the 90/10 model then the instruction that is being provided to the students 90% of the time is the Arabic language.

The parent support that is there for the bilingual program is not so much and there are reasons behind not having this particular support. The reason is that the people are not much aware of this program; moreover, there is also a lack of information, regarding the bilingual programs.  

Challenges with Other Bilingual Education Approaches

Bilingual assessment, like other assessment, is a way of testing the skills that is being possessed by a person. The bilingual assessments are such kind of assessments that helps in measuring the language skills that is being possessed by a certain person. The measuring of the language skills include, the skill of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Apart from the particular skills there are several other kinds of skills as well, that is being measured, at the same time and it includes things like phonology, syntax and lexicon. If this particular style of assessment is being viewed as a process then the bilingual education could be used to serve the formative purpose at the same time. If not, then this particular way of education could yield such results that would help in providing results that are summative inn nature. In case of formative process, the testing instruments are viewed either as a process or as a product. In case of any bilingual assessment, it is important to avoid relying on one single instrument. The assessment could have number of items in it and all these could have an impact on the reliability of the assessment. The language proficiency tests those are brief in nature could have standard errors in large numbers.

The assessments that are being carried out contain standard referencing, and at the same time it makes a comparison with the Limited English Proficiency or the LEP students with those who are the native speaks. The two groups who are compared belong to the same age as well as in the same grade. The assessment that is being carried out contains the diagnostic capabilities and at the same time, it helps in finding the weaknesses that are there in the students (Cambridge University Press. 2016).

The type of assessment that would be chose should be holistic in nature and the holistic nature of the assessment skills should give importance to reading, vocabulary, writing and listening qualities. The teacher could test the speaking quality of the students through oral methods and through these assessments; the teachers come to know about the progress of the students. The progress that the students have reflect on the fact that whether the plan or the assessment process that is being adopted by the teachers are correct or whether it need any changes; and if there is any changes then where the changes should be applied.

The International English Language Testing System or the IELTS program is one of the most important programs that are being conducted in Australia to test the English proficiency of the people in Australia (Gribble, Blackmore & Morrissey, 2016). The particular test is the most important and the high stake test for the pupil and at the same time it is a test that is being taken not only by the students but also at the same time it is being taken by the migrants who are there in country and by the workers in the country (Rachman, 2016).

In IELTS learning assessment there are two types of formats and the particular learning assessment or test actually emphasis on four things. The four things are, listening, reading, speaking and writing (Ghaemi & Khodabakhshzadeh, 2012). The test time that is being provided to the students is around 2 hours and 45 minutes and within this particular period the students have to complete their tests. The listening and the speaking tests are same for all those who are opting for this particular examination but the writing and the reading test changes, with the change of the student (Weir, Hawkey, Green, Unaldy & Devi, 2012).

The IELTS has 9 score band and it could be defined in the following way:


Skill Level



The level of the expert user

The person has the full command over the language. The person could appropriately use the language with accuracy and fluency.


The level of very good user

The person has command over the language although there are certain inaccuracies and inappropriateness. They although handle complex situation properly but at times they could not understand things.


The level of Good User

The person has command over the language although there are occasional inaccuracy and inappropriateness.


Compliment User

They have the command, although inaccuracies are there. They can even understand complex language in a situation, which is not very familiar.


The level of Modest User

They have partial command over the language and at the same time, they tend to make many mistakes as well.


The level of the limited user

The person face competency in limited situation and at the same time they could not use complex language. At the same time, they have problem in understanding the language.


The level of extremely limited user

The person understands the general meaning and even that in a familiar situation. The communication is often broken down.


The level of the Intermittent User

The person has not only great difficulty in speaking but at the same time that is there in writing as well.


Level of Non User

The person could not use the language but could use only few isolated words.


Anghel, B., Cabrales, A., & Carro, J. M. (2015). Evaluating a bilingual education program in Spain: the impact beyond foreign language learning.Economic Inquiry.

Bianco, J. L. (2015). Multilingual Education across Oceania. The Handbook of Bilingual and Multilingual Education, 604-617.

Cambridge University Press. (2016). Cambridge IELTS 11 Academic Student's Book with Answers. Cambridge University Press.

Dooley, K., & May, L. (2013). Bilingualism, literacy and NAPLAN: Ongoing challenges for EAL/D education. TESOL in Context, 23(1/2), 2.

Garrity, S., Aquino-Sterling, C. R., Van Liew, C., & Day, A. (2016). Beliefs about bilingualism, bilingual education, and dual language development of early childhood preservice teachers raised in a Prop 227 environment.International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 1-18.

Ghaemi, H., & Khodabakhshzadeh, H. (2012). IELTS Speaking Instruction through Audio/Voice Conferencing. Language Testing in Asia, 2(1), 1-11.

Gribble, C., Blackmore, J., & Morrissey, A. M. (2016). Investigating the use of IELTS in determining employment, migration and professional registration outcomes in healthcare and early childcare education in Australia.

Marschark, M., Tang, G., & Knoors, H. (Eds.). (2014). Bilingualism and bilingual deaf education. Oxford University Press.

Menken, K., & Solorza, C. (2014). No child left bilingual accountability and the elimination of bilingual education programs in New York City schools.Educational Policy, 28(1), 96-125.

O’Connor, M., O’Connor, E., Kvalsvig, A., & Goldfeld, S. (2014). The relationship between early childhood education and care and English proficiency at school entry for bilingual children in Australia. NZ Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 17, 161-181.


Schwartz, M., & Verschik, A. (Eds.). (2013). Successful family language policy: Parents, children and educators in interaction (Vol. 7). Springer Science & Business Media.

Sullivan, P., Jorgensen, R., Boaler, J., & Lerman, S. (2013). Transposing reform pedagogy into new contexts: complex instruction in remote Australia.Mathematics Education Research Journal, 25(1), 173-184.

Umana, M. S. (2014). Effect of the number of years of Bilingual Education on Academic Success after Elementary School (Doctoral dissertation, WALDEN UNIVERSITY).

Weir, C. J., Hawkey, R., Green, A., Unaldy, A., & Devi, S. (2012). The relationship between the academic reading construct as measured by IELTS and the reading experiences of students in their first year of study at a British university. Studies in Language Testing.

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