How is LIA Bilingual?

A bilingual school may choose to operate according to different models of timetable organisation and pedagogical oversight.

At LIA, we practice bilingualism daily. Each day the children are taught alternately in the two languages, often in blocks of several successive periods in the same language.

At LIA, all children are taught half the weekly time in French and the other half in English.

At LIA, the teacher’s primary language determines which language is used in the classroom. Except in very exceptional cases, the teacher does not translate. This is what is meant by “learning by immersion.” To help communicate their teaching points and facilitate understanding for some children, our teachers may use pictures or dramatic expression, for example.

At LIA, the concept of dominant language and partner language makes it possible to adapt the instruction provided to a given child’s linguistic profile. 

Each student’s level of proficiency in his/her dominant language must be at least equivalent to that required in a monolingual course at the same age. As soon as possible, the child will also be taught, in his partner language, at the level of his age group.

At LIA, certain subjects are sometimes taught in French and sometimes in English:

– this is the case for mathematics

– this is the case for science, in periods of 5 weeks.

Other subjects will be taught one year in French and the following year in English.

At LIA, moving beyond bilingualism, multilingualism is encouraged. We take every opportunity to make the most of our students’ skills in other languages, placing a high value on them and making connections between them and the languages studied.

What are the advantages of being bilingual/multilingual?

Most people in the world speak more than one language.

This is independent of a person’s socio-economic level and intelligence level.

The fear that second language acquisition is too challenging for the average child is totally unfounded (Montanari, 2003).  Parents who think they can offer their children a bilingual education recognise the many advantages of learning several languages from an early age.  Many do not realise that children who have been taught in bilingual programs exceed the linguistic, cognitive and social performance of their monolingual peers. (Bremer, 2007; Baker, 2000; Dalgalian, 2000).

Tamera Peters is not only the Director of School Initiatives for the TeachBeyond organisation, she is also the Chair of LIA’s Board of Directors.  Her research and vision helped define the framework for the development of the bilingual program at Léman International Academy.  She is also involved in several educational projects in places such as the Congo, Germany, Switzerland, and France.

The 6 « C » advantages

Baker (2000: 12) used six “C” words to express the advantages of being bilingual.

1.     Communication Benefits: Literacy in two languages (Baker, 2007; Cummins, 2000); broader communication capacity (international community) (Byram, 2007)

2.     Cultural Benefits: Greater ability to assimilate a new culture, deeper multiculturalism (Kim, 2005; Brown, 1980; Berry, 2008); greater tolerance and less racism (Lustig, 2005)

3.     Cognitive Advantages: Intellectual benefits (creativity, better sensitivity in communication) (Cummins, 2000; Dalgalian, 2000; Yoshida, 2008)

4.     Advantages in Character Development: Better self-esteem (Baker, 2000; Baker, 2007); greater security in identity

5.     Curriculum benefits: Better outcomes (Byram, 2008); facilities for learning a third language (Dalgalian, 2000)

6.     Career Benefits: Economic Benefits and Employment Ease (Seeba, 1996; Uber Grosse, 2004)


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  • Berry, J. W. (2008). Globalization and acculturation. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 32(4), 328-336..
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  • Brown, Douglas. (1980). The optimal distance model of second language acquisiton. TESOL Quarterly, 14(2), 157-164. Retrieved March 2, 2009, from JSTOR.
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