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Ágnes Vámos : Textbooks and Instructional Materials of Bilingual Schools: Effects on Target Language Education

In the 2007/2008 academic year, the Hungarian Association for Bilingual Schools (Kétnyelvű Iskolákért Egyesület, KIE) and the ELTE Institute of Educational Sciences conducted a questionnaire research concerning foreign language learning materials in bilingual schools. Since the publication of foreign language books in Hungary has been an unresolved problem for decades, our survey aimed at investigating (a) how schools substitute learning materials, (b) how this problem affects foreign language use in the classroom (c) and how it affects instructional tasks in general. Our sample consisted of 92 randomly chosen bilingual institutions, and the data was subjected to quantitative analysis. The results show that subjects taught in foreign language range from 2 to 8 and the number of operating target languages is high (English, French, Chinese, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish), consequently, the required number of specific foreign language textbooks reaches several hundred. The dispersion is high, for some of these subjects are only taught in one single school, while others are involved in the curriculum of every institution. In the latter cases, educators must invest considerable effort in overcoming the lack of textbooks, especially if the given subject is a compulsory part of the Matura exam. Imported books provide only partial solution, since they do not cover Hungarian linguistic and curricular requirements. Thus, 60% of the schools involved in our study are forced to apply native language textbooks, which is undoubtedly beneficial from a curricular point of view, yet hinders target language use by making both teachers and students shift between the languages and delays the development of L2 terminology as well as the balanced development of general foreign language competence. 70% of the schools use – at least partly – self-constructed target language study notes and learning materials, now mainly digital versions, because of the recent ICT boom in education. 56% of bilingual schools in the capital, 36% in county seats, 10% in towns and 38% in villages are equipped with interactive whiteboards. Their application is more widespread in elementary and academic secondary schools than in vocational education. On the whole it seems that bilingual schools are trying to overcome the lack of textbooks by technical development and inter-school collaborations. The construction of coherent learning aids out of the large amount of collected and self-developed materials and the teaching of these new learning methods to students requires significant instructional capacity. Since photocopied materials are financially more demanding and the socio-cultural composition of the student population in these schools has changed with the spread of bilingual education, the innovative attitude of bilingual schools is recently starting to be balanced by social sensitivity.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 109. Number 1. 5-27. (2009)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Vámos Ágnes, H–1065 Budapest, Nagymező utca 8.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia