ECMI Publications Database

#98: Bilingual Education for Romani children : Theory and Practice
Timothy Jacob-Owens
European Centre for Minority Issues
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This paper examines bilingual education as a means of improving educational attainment among Romani children. The paper begins by discussing how bilingual education fits with the international legal framework concerning language education for persons belonging to minority groups. Drawing on current thinking regarding language acquisition, the paper then sets out some key theoretical linguistic constraints to be taken into consideration in the context of education policy design, focusing primarily on the age of onset of acquisition (AOA). Two possible bilingual education models, Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) and Developmental Bilingual Education (DBE), are then presented and compared. There follows a brief discussion of current trends in language education policy for Romani children, focusing on the EU framework for National Roma Integration Strategies and its implementation in member states. Finally, a case study of the Amare Rromentza bilingual kindergarten pilot scheme in Romania is considered in light of the theoretical background. The paper concludes that bilingual education for Romani children can have very positive results in practice and merits more serious consideration among policymakers. 

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