Bilingual and Intercultural Education (BIE): Meeting 21st Century Educational Demands

Mª Elena Gómez Parra



Bilingual and intercultural education (BIE) is a powerful tool as we strive towards diversity in order to meet the demands of the international community in the 21st century. The implementation of an expanded approach could ensure a sustainable educational future. The fourth objective of the New Sustainable Development Goals 2030 published by United Nations seeks to guarantee quality education among the world population. Bilingual education constitutes an indispensable instrument to reach this objective, as it has proved to improve leaners’ access to information and cognitive abilities. This paper addresses separately the main principles of both bilingual and intercultural education. Then, the strengths, challenges, and opportunities that an integrated approach can bring to diversity within a global society are analyzed. We will focus our study on the concept of competence with reference to the CEFR and the way it addresses the binomial language-culture. Nowadays, there is a necessity for an alliance among peoples and cultures which is only guaranteed if it emerges through a real linguistic and cultural understanding, really necessary for understanding and communication in the 21st century Europe. Intercultural education is not accomplished by the simple addition of culture-related contents to a specific approach. Rather, it entails the specific design of an educational bilingual programme whose main axis is placed on intercultural education (IE). Thus, our overarching conclusion is that bilingual education must include IE within the design of its essential parameters.


bilingual education; intercultural education; integrated approach; strengths; challenges; opportunities; educational programmes

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