The Utopian Model of Bilingualism in Colombia
By: Katherine Rivas
Currently, the bilingual education has become an important tool in order to belong to the economic opening, scientific and technological development as a part of a globalization process; these aspects create the necessity to be in contact with other cultures, without losing our ownership sense. For these reasons the National Ministry of Education has created the National Law of Bilingualism to develop the communicative competence to have equal conditions in a global culture (MEN 2006). In accordance with the law, there are three basic competences to carry out: linguistic, pragmatic, and sociolinguistic being these (pragmatic and sociolinguistic competences) leaved aside during the process of acquisition of a second language. However, this paper deals with the analysis of the pragmatic competence in the documents presented by MEN (Ministry of National Education): Estandares Básicos de Competencias en lenguas extranjeras: Inglés. Formar en Lenguas Extranjeras: ¡el reto! Lo que necesitamos saber y saber hacer, from a critical standpoint about the factors related with the law`s proposals in Colombian public education. To approach our aims, we are going to show two important aspects that are closely attached with the topic, which are: awareness in learning and use of English and curricula in education plans.
As we have seen, the main effect that have brought the fact of leaving aside the pragmatic competence for Colombian students is that, they have not realized about importance of learning a second language in order to improve their quality of life, in this context, Ordoñez (2011, p. 43) states: The main problem of learning a foreign language in Colombian context is how difficult is to discuss about how important is for life and specifically, English language use, because our sociolinguistic context is mainly monolingual (Spanish). In other words, students believe that learn a foreign language is not useful for their lives, due to the fact that, in real life, actually, they cannot use it to communicate. In this respect Ordoñez (2010, p. 43) add that: as the children in a scholar age do not need to use English as a communication way to express with each other in their daily routines, its learning becomes extremely difficult for them. Therefore, Colombian students do not have awareness about the importance that this subject has for their lives and it implies a lack of interest on the subject and the misconception about the English language as an important subject that actually; do not have relevance within lessons plan.
However, the main problem is not only about students, there is a bigger problem that is closely related with previous topic (awareness and context): Even though, The National Ministry of Education has the power to regulate the curricula through standards, actually many schools are ruled by their own lesson’ s plans and even they do not include English language within their curricula such as Miranda and Echeverri (2009 p. 35) state: “es pertinente considerar la resignificacion del Inglés en la institucion. Así, se le podra otorgar un papel relevante en la formación de los estudiantes, lo cual implica, entre otros, su inclusion en le PEI”. As it was mentioned before it implies that schools should analyze the necessities of their students in a real context to learn a second language according to create a curricula related to the standards stablished by MEN. To sum up, schools in Colombia actually require an improvement plan to include a real an efficient English program in their curricula, to overcome the challenge of teaching a second language in Colombia, taking into account the characteristics in our academic context and points for enhancing it.
Finally, as a consequence of the lack of awareness, English language is not taken in to account to be included in school`s curricula in the correct way, this subject is given in schools without the appropriate emphases. Students unknown the real context of a foreign language, (culture, costumes, traditions etc.) children and teenagers specially those who study in public schools have been seen it, as an unnecessary competence in Colombian context. Because they can interact and communicate effectively in their own language using Spanish without a global vision about the potential access to other countries in their early future.
Echeverri Norbella, Miranda Angela (2009) La gestión Escolar en la implementación del programa nacional de bilingüismo en instituciones educativas privadas de Cali IKALA no. 29. Recovered http://aprendeenlinea.udea.edu.co/revistas/index.php/ikala/article/viewArticle/9446
Guerrero Carmen Helena. (2008): Bilingual Colombia: What does it mean to be bilingual within the framework of the national plan of bilingualism? PROFILE Vol 10, No 1 PROFILE
Ministerio De Educación Nacional (2006) Formar En Lenguas Extranjeras: Inglés ¡El Reto! Recovered http://www.colombiaaprende.edu.co/html/mediateca/1607/articles-115375_archivo.pdf
Ordonez Claudia Lucía ( 2011) Education for bilingualism: Connecting Spanish and English from the curriculum, into the classroom and beyond., Universidad Nacional. PROFILE Vol. 13, No. 2, October 2011. ISSN 1657-0790. Bogotá, Colombia
Sánchez Solarte Ana Clara & Obando Guerrero Gabriel (2008)Is Colombia ready for bilingualism?PROFILEVol 9, No 1 , PROFILE 9, No 1. Issues in Teachers’ Professional Development.