Madrid, Spain

Ismael Sanz Labrador
Luis Pires Jiménez
General Direction of Innovation, Grants, and Scholarships for Education
Regional Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Community of Madrid

Language and Literacy

Madrid, the capital of Spain, was born as an autonomous community in 1983 with the Statute of Autonomy of the Autonomous Community of Madrid and with approval of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.1,2 The third most populated community in Spain, Madrid is considered the main national center of the tertiary sector and one of the most prominent and developed regions in Spain and Europe. It stands as the first autonomous community in most principal social and economic indicators.

The official language in Madrid is Spanish, and an enormous effort is being made by the Madrid Educational Department to make Madridʼs future generations bilingual in English and Spanish. It is a belief of the Autonomous Community of Madrid that proficiency in English is fundamental to the future of its youth, and that belief was behind the implementation of a model of bilingual education.3

All of Spain’s autonomous communities, with the help of central authorities, are introducing Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) programs in schools.4 The CLIL curriculum, in which some subjects are taught in English, was established in Madrid in 2004 with the bilingual program implementation. A virtual community of primary and secondary schools named Aprendizaje Integrado de Contenido y Lengua (Content and Language Integrated Learning), or AICOLE, has digital education content. Created by the Department of Education of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, this community was created to connect teachers and their resources and to improve the CLIL methodology by exchanging resources and best practices.5

It is important to describe the bilingual program as a special initiative to promote reading in English and Spanish: Since 2004, the Autonomous Community of Madrid has implemented a model of bilingual state education in which students not only study English as a foreign language but also receive curricular instruction for other subjects in English. English therefore becomes a working language that is used in a cross-curricular way in schools, allowing students to acquire it more quickly, naturally, and effortlessly. All bilingual state schools comply with the official curriculum set out by the Community of Madrid. The program began with 26 state primary schools, and there are currently 360 state primary schools and 134 state secondary schools in the Madrid bilingual school network in addition to 193 state funded primary schools, of which 47 offer bilingual studies in secondary education. From its inception, the Madrid bilingual program has made a solid commitment to the professional development of its teachers, offering courses in leadership, CLIL methodology, language improvement, language immersion, and teaching practice in Madrid and in countries such as Canada, the United States, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.