PRIMARY and secondary schools in Majorca will be hosting a visit next week from ten teachers from the United Kingdom, keen to learn about their innovative approach to language learning. CP Puig de Sa Morisca in Santa Ponsa is just one of the five participating schools and they will be showcasing their creative use of computer technology in the language classroom. All the schools are part of the Balearic education ministry and British Council's bilingual schools project and they use a Content and Language Integrated Learnign (CLIL) method of language development.
The teachers, all from Salford, Manchester, are very interested to see how it could help them respond to the British government's drive to reform language learning in the UK. Jennifer Williams, an early years consultant, says that she's delighted the British Council and the ministry have made this trip happen. “I enjoy spending time listening to young children gaining bilingualskills, and firmly believe that Early Years is the place to begin. I'm looking forward to visiting the schools in Majorca,” she told the Bulletin yesterday. The study visit is part of the Teachers' International Professional Development (TIPD) programme which is funded by the Department for Education and Skills, and which was launched in May 2000. It offers 2'500 teachers annually the opportunity to undertake action research into educational policy and practice around the world.
The visit comes close on the heels of the Balearic ministry's announcement that a trilingual programme will be introduced in local schools from the start of the next school year. Under this new scheme, children from primary school upwards will have a third of their classes in English, a third in Spanish and a third in Catalan.
This proposal has come under fire, with socialists in the opposition claiming that it will cut back on the length of time spent on Catalan, one of the two co-official languages in the Balearics. Catalan is already one of the subjects with the highest failure rate in exams.
Education minister Francesc Fiol admitted yesterday that “there probably will be less hours in Catalan, but what is important is that we should ensure our pupils have a greater capacity in English.” The final plan has still to be presented, and Fiol promised that the government will study proposals and “make any necessary changes.” However, this does not satisfy the socialists, who see the use of Catalan under threat.
But the ministry points out that there are already several schools in the Balearics which teach some of their classes in English, with excellent results.

The argument is expected to continue for some time.