Bilingual education is a highly controversial matter. The debates surrounding the subject of bilingualism and bilingual education are deeply rooted in historical and political traditions. The ﬁrst section of this chapter gives a historical outline of these traditions, focussing on the fact that the controversy took on a special signiﬁcance with the emergence of the ‘classical’ nation state (Hobsbawm 1990). The notion of nation as developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries gave rise to the idea that a state – and with it all inhabitants – is ‘normally’ monolingual. Since then, the idea of monolingualism in a whole country or territories in a country has been one of the key characteristics of the classical European concept of ‘nation’.