Bilingual learning at the British School of Brussels

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The British School of Brussels reinforces language learning with new bilingual opportunities in French and Dutch.

As an international school operating in the heart of one of the world’s most multilingual countries, the Primary School at the British School of Brussels (BSB) will be introducing a new French/English bilingual programme from September 2011, to complement the current English-medium teaching across the  curriculum.  In September 2012 a dual programme will begin in the Secondary School in Year 7 (for children aged 11-12 years), and will extend to Year 9 (14 year olds) by 2015.

The Dutch/English Bilingual International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma will also be introduced in September 2011 for 16 to 18 year olds, together with Dutch lessons for children aged 7-11 years, for both mother tongue and beginners.

Language specialism

Given BSB’s unique geographical location in the heart of Europe in a trilingual environment, the School already places a strong emphasis on language-learning with French as a core subject for ages 4-16.  The French/English Bilingual (IB) Diploma has also been a provision for Post-16 students for many years, as well as a choice between Spanish, Dutch and German as a second language from Year 7 (age 11).  The new French/English bilingual offering in the Primary School will start for children in Reception Class (ages 4-5) and Year 1 (ages 5-6) and Year 3 (ages 7-8) in September 2011, resulting in a fully integrated programme by 2015.  

Bilingual – biliterate – bicultural  students

The dual French/English programme, one of the first of its kind being offered at an international school in Belgium, offers children a truly bilingual education.  The new bilingual programme will be integrated seamlessly into the current BSB curriculum.  Consequently all subjects will be taught 50% in French and 50% in English both by mother tongue French and English teachers. “It is our expectation that the whole programme will further promote intercultural attitudes and behaviour,” said Carole Denny, Vice Principal and Head of Primary School at BSB.

Transferability for globally mobile families

The new bilingual programme is being offered following extensive research by the School on current best practice with the aim of producing balanced bilinguals, possessing age-appropriate French and English.  As well as teaching the objectives from the National Curriculum for England, teachers will ensure that the objectives from the French National Curriculum are covered in Language and Mathematics by the end of the final year in Primary School.  Subsequently children will be assessed against national criteria from both educational systems to ensure appropriately high standards and to enable children leaving BSB to be well-prepared for continuing their learning in either or both languages, whether transferring to English, French or another bilingual system.  

A truly international school

“By offering this new French/English bilingual education, BSB is providing a strong advantage to students to support their greater success in the 21st century,” says Mrs Denny.  “We have for many years adapted the curriculum to reflect the multicultural and multinational student population - currently more than 70 nationalities - and our aim is for these programmes to further support our local and international community.”

“This is a tremendously exciting time for our School,” added Neilian Roxburgh, Head of Primary French. “Belgian families represent our second highest student nationality and it is hoped that these new opportunities will further cross-cultural interaction between anglophone, francophone and néerlandophone communities.”

To find out more and arrange an interview now call:
Tel: ++32 (0)2 766 04 30 or email:
More information can also be found at

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world” (Ludwig Wittgenstein).

About The British School of Brussels

The British School of Brussels, founded in 1969 in Brussels and established in 1970 in Tervuren is an all-through school for students from 3 - 18 years with 1150 currently on roll.  Truly international in dimension, the students represent more than 70 nationalities.  The School offers the National Curriculum for England adapting it to reflect the needs of the multicultural and multinational student population providing (I)GCSE, GCE A Levels or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma (English/French) and (English/Dutch) from September 2011. From September 2011 the School introduces a bilingual French/English programme for its Primary School. Extensive provision for Learning Support and English as an Additional Language (EAL) is available, together with a wide range of extra-curricular activities.  The School is a member of the European Council of International Schools, (ECIS), and the Principal, is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC).   For more information, please visit:

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