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Celebrating European Day of Languages with the Release of our Spotlight on Bilingual Education


Following a year-long search HundrED, in partnership with the Swedish Cultural Foundation, has published our first-ever Spotlight on Bilingual Education.

Today, over half of the world’s population is, to some degree, bilingual. Moreover, the many benefits of being bilingual are increasingly recognized as essential practical, social, and emotional skills needed in the 21st century. In order to truly prepare students for our global world, it is important to call more attention to innovative pedagogical practices that inspire children from all types of language backgrounds and cultures to acquire a second or third language. Bilingual education helps students to understand and experience other languages and cultures, and therefore plays a key role in advancing mutual tolerance.   

“Bilingual education helps students to understand and experience other languages and cultures, and therefore plays a key role in advancing mutual tolerance,” said Lasse Leponiemi, Executive Director at HundrED. This Spotlight highlights creative solutions that enable schools all over the world to promote and foster bilingualism by encouraging positive attitudes towards language learning and awareness.   

“Even though language immersion is widely recognized as a good pedagogical method for providing children with a strong sense of bilingualism, the number of municipalities in Finland that offer Swedish immersion for Finnish-language children has long stayed unchanged. At the same time, we saw that many Swedish-language schools have little experience working with children and young people with a foreign language as their mother tongue. We wanted to know more about successful pedagogical methods for educating bi- and multilingual children and youths. This realization was the starting point for our cooperation with HundrED,” 

said Berndt-Johan Lindström, Leading Advisor in Education at the Swedish Cultural Foundation.

HundrED received submissions from over 20 countries for this inaugural Spotlight. These innovations cover a diverse range of approaches to bilingual education, levels of education, and target groups (e.g. educators, parents, and students) on vital aspects of bilingual education such as bilingual teaching and learning, language awareness and confidence, mother tongue education, multilingualism, cultural exchange, inclusion, and diversity.

The winning innovations were selected by an expert Advisory Board, the HundrED Research Team, and members of the Swedish Cultural Foundation. The HundrED Advisory Board consists of various stakeholders in education and its members are rigorously and selectively chosen with an emphasis on maintaining a diversity of perspectives. Every potential innovation is then carefully analyzed and discussed to evaluate which are the most impactful and scalable. 

Raising awareness of bilingualism in education, this Spotlight is published in connection with the European Day of Languages. The general aim of the European Day of Languages, as defined by the Council of Europe, is “to draw attention to Europe's rich linguistic and cultural diversity […] but also to extend the range of languages that people learn throughout their lives in order to develop their plurilingual skills and reinforce intercultural understanding.” Since 2001, the European Day of Languages has been celebrated each year on the 26th of September.

The Innovations selected for the HundrED Spotlight on Bilingual Education are: 

Language Friendly School: A global network of schools welcoming and valuing all languages by allowing students’ home languages in school multilingual students to get the chance to strengthen their cognitive and social skills.   

Kiwa Digital: A world-leading production house for experiential digital apps. They bring stories to digital life across languages and cultures, using their cutting edge technology to create immersive, interactive, and instructive experiences.

Norden i Skolen (Norden in School): a free educational platform for the whole of Norden! The platform offers K12 educational material in all Nordic languages.

Mother Tongue Education for Early Learners: Provides training and develops the learning and teaching materials required, to teach learners in their mother tongue in Africa. They work to produce early reader books and other materials to support literacy and numeracy that are locally appropriate and culturally relevant.

Linguacuisine: The free Linguacuisine app helps you learn a language while you’re cooking a meal. With text and video, your smartphone or tablet will talk you through the stages of cooking a recipe in the chosen foreign language.

Language Showering in Jyväskylä: A method of foreign language teaching where preschool teachers, at times, use target languages during the children’s everyday activities. The primary aim of the method is to provide positive experiences of languages and language learning.

Kamilala: Multilingual Kamishibai Competition offers educators and children a creative and innovative project open to the diversity of languages: each group creates a multilingual story (using at least four languages) according to the kamishibai format.

Language Party: Storytellers share tales in their mother tongue then translate them into the dominant language of the audience.

The Language Ambassadors: Ambassadors visit schools and talk about their own unique and inspiring experiences with language learning. With the school visits, the students get a concrete understanding of the personal benefits of knowing languages in the world outside of school.

Global Minds Initiative: Designed, led, and run entirely by youth, this program pairs native English speakers with English-language learners to support academic performance and forge social understanding.

Saku Tuominen, Chairman & Creative Director of HundrED said: “Spreading innovations across borders can be a gamechanger for education, worldwide. We will continue to encourage as many stakeholders as possible including schools, educators, administrators, students, and organizations to get involved so that we can work towards a positive future.”

The HundrED 2020 Spotlight on Bilingual Education is available to download on the HundrED website at no cost. For more information visit the HundrED Spotlight on Bilingual Education webpage.

The Spotlight on Bilingual Education and its selected innovators will be celebrated virtually during the HundrED Innovation Summit in the first week of November 2020. Admission to the Summit is free to all. If you would like to attend you can register here.