Slovakia - State of the art of bilingual education in Slovakia

Bilingual Education in Slovakia

(This is an original report from Danica Laukova which was part of the initial setting up of the first FACTWorld site.) 

At the primary level ( age 6 - 15 ) there is no extensive teaching in a foreign language, although language learning is now compulsory from year 3. For talented students selected according to specific linguistic tests there is a chance to start to learn a foreign language in year 1 and add another in year 3 at primary level. In Slovakia these are usually English and German. There is in average one class of such talented students in each year at a school. The main problem at this level is lack of qualified language teachers. There are only few private schools at this level an non of them provide teaching of a subject in a foreign language.

Secondary schools ( age 15 - 19 ) belong to the main stream of bilingual education in Slovakia. There are at about 15 schools with extensive teaching of foreign language. The main languages involved are English, German, Spanish, French and Italian. The first bilingual schools were established at the begining of 90s on basis of bilateral agreement between the Slovak Ministry of Education and a foreign partner. Partners scale of involvment varies vrom school to school. They usually provide textbooks, curricculum development and inservice training for teachers. Some of them also provide native speakers for teaching position. The bilingual schools set up recently are usually without a foreign partner.There are not only state schools but also few private and religious bilingual schools.

The subject taught through medium of a foreign language are mostly science subjects and mathematics. The only school in Slovakia where the majority of subjects are taught in English is the Bilingual English - Slovak Grammar School in Sucany. There is also the International Baccaloriat school in Bratislava. According to a survey made in 2000 , surprisinglly only 1/4 of the graduates continues at the science orientated universities. Another 1/4 continues to study abroad.

Bilingual education in Slovakia is described as following:

* The schools developed historically from the post-1989 social, economic and political situation in Slovakia

* The aim is to give students a good all round education and at the same time allow them to accuire well above average linguistic competence in the working language

* The schools are opened for all students who fulfil general state legislation. However the majority of the students are mother tongue Slovak speakers

* All students must pass the special entrance exams that are in the Slovak language

* The basis of the Slovak national curriculum suplemented however, in some cases by the needs of the foreign partners

* There are two languages of instructions - Slovak and the working language

* The working language is used between 50% - 100% of teaching time. Students are provided with subject specific terminology in both languages.

* Classes are taught by either a Slovak or a native speaker teacher but lesson planning is carried out together

* The teaching materials used are working language and Slovak text books with support material from the teacher

* The compulsory leaving exams is in Slovak and the working language plus two other compulsory subjects. In addition students can achieve national language awards in the countries of the forieign partners.

At university level teaching in a foriegn language is in Business and Management studies. There are no specific courses for subject teachers to teach through medium of a foreign language.

Danica Lauková

Bilingual English - Slovak Grammar School, Suèany

Bilingual Education Project Manager in Slovakia

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