Research proposal as a continuation of the English IMPACT study carried out by the British Council in secondary schools in the Comunidad de Madrid

Project: Other


where children from families from above average socio-economic background can receive high quality education that further increases their chances on a competitive job market. One of the aims of the English Impact project, which was conducted in the Madrid region in 2017 by the British Council in collaboration with the Madrid government, was to compare students’ learning in two types of schools, bilingual and non-bilingual. 1774 15-year-olds sampled randomly completed the Aptis test, a measure of proficiency in English, and a motivational questionnaire. The findings pointed to higher levels of declared motivation and proficiency among students from bilingual schools than their peers from non-bilingual schools. However, the results also show that these differences are not a result of a skewed SES representation of students from more privileged backgrounds in bilingual schools as the distribution of students from lower and higher SES backgrounds was not significantly different in the two types of schools. Moreover, the students from different SES backgrounds (lower and higher) were compared within the same type of schooling (bilingual and non-bilingual). The differences in motivation and proficiency between students from lower and higher SES background in bilingual schools were smaller than the differences observed in non-bilingual schools. This seems to indicate that bilingual schools reduce the influence of students’ SES on language learning as compared to non-bilingual schools.
The relation that is thus established between bilingual programs and a reduction of the impact of students’ SES in turn begs two questions. First of all, it is necessary to take a new look at the classification of students into SES groups. The current measure was a composite taking into account parents’ education, job level and household possessions. However, parental education level has been previously found to play a much more important role in affecting educational attainment than the economic status of families. Hence, additional analysis looking into the effect of parental level of education might be useful. On the other hand, should this relation between bilingual education and a reduced impact of SES on students’ performance be confirmed, it would become necessary to establish the reasons for this. If it is possible to identify the specific characteristics of bilingual education responsible for assuring equal access to education, it may be possible to apply them to other contexts and thus contribute to providing equal chances of success to all students, independently of their SES.
The research we are thus intending to carry out as a continuation of the English IMPACT study can be divided into two phases which will address the following questions:
Phase 1:
Do new measures of SES yield similar results as those shown in the original study? Do the data from IMPACT show the same results if students’ classification into SES groups is based on their parents’ socio-educational background?
Phase 2:
• What is the reason for bilingual students’ intrinsic motivation? The fact that English is used as a vehicle for communication (i.e. relevance of the language)? Teaching methodology in content subjects taught in English / in English lessons? Assessment methods used in bilingual education?
• Are teachers in bilingual / non-bilingual schools and teaching in Spanish / English different in terms of
a. Ongoing training received / sought
b. Collaboration with peers
c. Motivation and self-image
d. Expectations about students
e. Identification with the school
Short title5000€
Effective start/end date1/09/1830/03/19