Bilingual: Frequently Asked Questions

The Bilingual Program was started by our company’s predecessor in 2000.
Our operation is completely independent of Szőlőtő Alapítvány (“Foundation”), from whom we have purchased the exclusive license for the bilingual education program. Years of experience with the program helped identify areas that needed improvement: more emphasis on use of English and writing, the addition of a literature component, the Reading Program, to the curriculum at each grade level in order to develop reading comprehension; digitals skills development in the Going Digital program). These changes have been implemented from 2014, resulting in more complex competency levels for our students, with particular respect to culture.
Our primary school program, just like our kindergarten program, emphasizes immersion principles as extensively as possible, especially in grades 1 to 6. Because English language – and to some extent, culture – are incorporated into nearly all activities, classes and topics, children continue to learn a good deal of their English incidentally, in the same way they acquire their native language. In this regard, the teachers’ presence outside of lesson times – before first period begins, during breaks, and during meal times – is a vitally important added value of the program, particularly in grades 1 to 4.

Another distinctive element of the Bilingual Program at all levels is our use of the one-person/one-language model of co-teaching, sometimes called the bilingual family model. The approach is straightforward: the Hungarian co-teacher speaks only Hungarian, and the Bilingual teacher – a native speaker of English, or on occasion a balanced bilingual – speaks only English. Moreover, our teachers do not evince any understanding of Hungarian, even passively. This allows us to maximize the language immersion and language learning opportunities of the students in the Bilingual Program.

Our goal is the delivery of a bilingual education program that takes into account the demands of the Hungarian national curriculum and the course of events in a student’s life as they move through the Hungarian education system.
The Hungarian co-teacher speaks only Hungarian and the Bilingual teacher – a native speaker of English or on occasion a balanced bilingual – speaks only English.

Co-teaching is the rule of the day in all subject classes, where we adhere to our one-person, one-language rule, offering ample opportunity to the children for code-switching through frequent shifts in focus from teacher to teacher, all with an even distribution of time in each language.
The Bilingual Program features most subjects in co-taught or English only lessons (except Ethics and, of course, Hungarian Language and Literature). Some of the lessons of a few subjects are not co-taught (e.g. PE 3 out of 5 are co-taught, 2 are Hungarian) In grades 7-8 subjects of science are taught in the form of science tutorials. Students have an only-English lesson every day.

In English classes, in most cases we split the class into two similarly-sized, mixed-ability groups, with one cohort heading to another classroom for that day’s lesson. One split group remains with one teacher for the entire week; the following week, teachers switch groups. Thus students spend an equal amount of time with each teacher over the course of the year. They speak English throughout English language lessons.

Tutorials (small group sessions of 4-8 students) are another key feature of the Bilingual Program. These are mandatory 30-minute sessions in the afternoon. In contrast to the split groups for English lessons, tutorial groupings are often based on language level. In general, these small group sessions provide the perfect opportunity for reading development as well as further communicative practice and test review.
The Cambridge English Language Testing System is acknowledged and used worldwide for language competency assessment, and is regarded as the most comprehensively designed system of testing available. By 8th grade, we expect our students to be prepared to take the FCE for Schools test. In addition, we use in-house tests to track the development of language competency as per Cambridge system standards.
A distinctive element of the Bilingual Program at all levels is our use of the one-person/one-language model of co-teaching, sometimes called the bilingual family model. The approach is straightforward: the Hungarian co-teacher speaks only Hungarian and the Bilingual teacher – a native speaker of English or on occasion a balanced bilingual – speaks only English. Moreover, our teachers do not evince any understanding of Hungarian, even passively. This allows us to maximize the language immersion and language learning opportunities of the students in our program.

The methodology we use – what gets the job done – remains, in its essence, the same throughout the entirety of our program. We employ the techniques and insights of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) combined with the logic and strategies of CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) to develop young people who can speak, read and write English with a great deal of confidence, young people who are years ahead of their peers, young people who are able to go abroad to study, travel, and eventually work – all without missing a heartbeat.

Results so far have shown that our graduates’ English communication skills are much more advanced than those of graduates from other bilingual programs, and without compromising subject competency, which is often also outstanding.
Bilingual uses the Cambridge English Language Testing System in order to externally benchmark the performance of its students. It is the premier provider of English language exams for speakers of other languages globally, with meticulously well-prepared exams and preparation material for learners of all ages (from as young as seven or eight years old up through adulthood). There is no better way to measure the success of a bilingual education program than through these assessment tools.

Students follow the Hungarian curriculum and use a textbook chosen by the Hungarian teacher. Based on joint planning sessions, the native English-speaking co-teacher prepares appropriate English-language course materials for each lesson using a variety of previously compiled course materials, English-language textbooks, and online resources. These handouts are added to students’ notebooks or course folders. There are a few textbooks for subjects (with a grade by grade difference).
Because English language – and to some extent, culture – are incorporated into nearly all activities, classes and topics, children continue to learn a good deal of their English incidentally, in the same way they acquire their native language. In this regard, the teachers’ presence outside of lesson times – before first period begins, during breaks, and during mealtimes – is a vitally important added value of the program, particularly in grades 1 to 4.

Beginning in first grade, and especially from third grade on, students broaden the ways in which they acquire their English. Focused and sustained study of lexical items begins in first grade, reading and writing in English begins at the end of first grade but begins in earnest at the start of second grade (so as not to interfere with the children’s acquisition of knowledge and skills in Hungarian), and English grammatical structures are introduced in increasingly explicit ways from third grade onwards.

In 8th grade, most of our students successfully pass the Cambridge FCE for Schools B2 level mock exam administered by the British Council in our partner institutions, in a very similar environment compared to the official exam. In order to develop difficult elements for most students, such as use of English and writing, two years of goal-oriented, mandatory exam preparation lessons are provided, starting in 7th grade as well as two years of mandatory afternoon tutorials
Most of our teachers are from native English-speaking countries, such as the U.S. or Great Britain, but there are South-African, Canadian, and Australian staff members among them as well.
Bilingual considers it critical to employ only teachers who are native speakers of English or, on occasion, balanced bilinguals.
Our teachers may be specialized in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, or in Primary or Secondary Education, and in many cases both. Our Upper Primary and Secondary teachers are also subject-specialized. During their orientation they also receive training in our special methodology. This range of background, training, and experience allows our staff to employ the full range of approaches and techniques on which the success of the Bilingual Program is based.
Our teachers usually stay on staff for one or two years. Our goal — especially in kindergarten and grades 1-4 — is to have the same native teacher stay with the students for as long as possible. Consequently, we aim to hire more resident native teachers who are based in Hungary long term. On the other hand, having different teachers has also proven to have a positive effect, as students will be exposed to a variety of dialects, leading to better understanding of native English speakers from all over the world.
The Bilingual teacher – a native speaker of English or on occasion a balanced bilingual – speaks only English within the program. Moreover, our teachers do not evince any understanding of Hungarian, even passively. This allows us to maximize the language immersion and language learning opportunities of the students in our program.
No. In our program, we stick to the one-person/one-language model for the best language learning results.
Yes. Every year, we hold a number of “open days” at each partner institution, with a variety of lessons open to pre-registered visitors. You can find information about open days at the Contact/Enrollment section.
We do recognize that the Bilingual Program may not be suitable for all children as the demands of the Hungarian curriculum increase over the years. If the child has development issues in their native language, we do not recommend this program. However, resulting from our special methodology, our teachers try to make the lessons and learning in general as playful and enjoyable as possible. br>
In our experience, children who acquire a language base in our kindergarten program do better in the primary school program. For children from non-bilingual kindergarten programs, we offer an English preparatory program (on demand).

Children in 2nd or 3rd grade who are complete beginners can only be admitted into the program if they are exceptionally motivated to learn the language. In such cases, remedial English courses outside the curriculum must be arranged by the family.

In higher grades, beginners are not recommended to enter the program because it is highly unlikely that they would be able to catch up.
No, but it is useful, especially in the first period.