Bilingual Education vs. the Three Language Formula: Comparing Approaches

The introduction of the National Education Policy 2020 has put major emphasis on offering education in multiple languages to students in the first few years of learning. The main aim is to make the students familiar with the regional languages and mother tongue along with English. Let us know more about them.

Bilingual Education-

Bilingual education is an educational approach that gives instructions and education delivery in two languages. The main aim of bilingual education is to help students to develop proficiency in both languages for better cultural understanding. Also, it helps the students to understand the academic course in a better way. This is a form of education that is usually used in multilingual societies where the native language is different than the dominant language of instruction.

Three Language Formula-

Several countries are diverse with multilingual societies. In these places, the students must be educated well in the best-suited medium of instruction, along with giving knowledge about the local and national language. That’s where the three-language formula comes in place. It helps in promoting linguistic diversity and proficiency in the languages among students.

Bilingual education and the three-language formula are two different approaches to language learning and instruction, often implemented in multilingual societies. They aim for the same outcomes as suggested by NEP 2020. Let’s compare these approaches in terms of their goals, implementation, and potential benefits and challenges.

1. Expectations-

·        Bilingual Education

Bilingual education aims to develop proficiency in two languages, typically the student’s native language and a second language. The goal is to ensure that students are academically successful in both languages while promoting cultural understanding and bilingualism. This helps in keeping in touch with the local language and culture.

·        Three Language Formula

 The three-language formula emphasizes the learning of three languages – the regional language, the official language of the country, and English. The objective is to provide students with the ability to communicate effectively in all three languages and learn linguistic diversity.

2. Implementation

·        Bilingual Education

 In bilingual education, students receive instruction in both languages throughout their academic journey. The level of integration and balance between the two languages may vary depending on the specific program.

·        Three Language Formula

 The three language formula is typically implemented as a language policy by educational authorities. It may involve allocating specific time for instruction in each language or making certain languages compulsory at different grade levels. 

3. Benefits:

·        Bilingual Education

 Bilingual education can offer several advantages, including the development of high levels of proficiency in two languages.

·        Three Language Formula

 The three language formula promotes multilingualism and cultural diversity.

4. Challenges:

·        Bilingual Education

 Bilingual education may face challenges related to finding qualified bilingual educators. Also, it requires experts in those languages to design an appropriate curriculum and educational materials. It must ensure equal access to resources and opportunities for all students. Maintaining a balance between the two languages and addressing potential resistance towards bilingualism can also be challenging. Also, if not taught well, the students may find it difficult to understand the languages.

·        Three Language Formula

 Implementing the three language formula may encounter challenges regarding the availability of qualified teachers proficient in all three languages, ensuring equal emphasis on all languages, and addressing any potential dominance of one language over others. Students may also face difficulties in achieving high proficiency in multiple languages within the limited time allocated to each.


Bilingual education focuses on proficiency in two languages, while the three language formula emphasizes proficiency in three languages. Both approaches have their own goals, implementation methods, benefits, and challenges. The institutes must appoint well-learned professionals in the languages to teach students.

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