DUAL-LANGUAGE EDUCATION:
HOW IT WORKS, WHY IT
WORKS, & WHY WE CARE
April Linton
University of California, San Diego
Dual-language education (a.k.a. dual
immersion, two-way immersion, two-way
bilingual immersion)

Approximately 50% English learners (from same
language background) and 50% English speakers

Instruction in both languages, starting in
kindergarten or first grade and lasting at least
through fifth grade (optimally K-12)

Bilingualism & biliteracy, high achievement,
integration & multicultural understanding
HIGH SES DISTRICT
LOW SES DISTRICT
parents
school board/
district administration
school board/
district administration
schools
schools
parents
How it works…three models

50:50 - 50% of instruction in the partner
language

80:20 - 80% of instruction in partner language
in early grades, moving to 50% by the 5th or
6th grade

90:10 – 90% of instruction in partner
language in early grades, moving to 50% by
the 5th or 6th grade
How it works…results

Dual-language education always shrinks and can close
the achievement gap between native Spanish and
English speakers.


Barfield 1995, Christian et al. 2004, Collier & Thomas 2004,
Lindholm-Leary 2001,Pérez 2004, Quintanar-Sarellana 2004…
Dual-language educated children develop positive
identities as learners, as well as positive ethnic/racial
identities.

Hawkins 2005, Reyes and Vallone 2007
How it works…results (Lindholm-Leary)




By grade 3, all students proficient speakers of L1.
Native English speakers spending only 10-20% of their
school days in English are just as proficient in English
as those receiving 50% of instruction in English,
regardless of race or SES.
Native Spanish speakers often do better than English
speakers in L2.
Native Spanish speakers in dual-language programs
have higher English scores than their peers in earlyexit bilingual programs.
How it works…results (Lindholm-Leary)


By grade 3, native English speakers score at or above
statewide norms in English reading, regardless of program
type.
Most native Spanish speakers score at or above statewide
norms in Spanish reading. They score better that their peers
in early-exit bilingual or English immersion instruction.


Native English speakers in 90:10 programs do very well in
Spanish reading
Native Spanish speakers in 90:10 programs score a bit
lower in English reading, but this levels out by grade 5 or
6.
How it works…results
(Howard and Sugarman)

“Both native Spanish speakers and native English speakers
demonstrate mean growth in language and literacy abilities in
both English and Spanish”

Native English speakers tend to be dominant in and prefer
English, while native Spanish speakers demonstrate more
balanced bilingualism.

Less Spanish instruction in the primary grades, (e.g., 50:50)
yields lower Spanish performance for everyone.

Dual-language students “tend to perform at levels comparable to
or higher than” their peers in other types of classrooms.
Why it works…

“Culture of Intellectualism” (Howard and Sugarman)




Commitment to ongoing learning, high expectations,
okay to make mistakes
Collaboration and exchange of ideas and
viewpoints, multiple approaches to problem solving
Fostering of independence through the provision of
choices and encouragement of self-monitoring
Promotion of higher-order thinking (predicting,
analyzing, interpreting…)
Why it works…

“Culture of Equity” (Howard and Sugarman)





Strong sense of cultural and language identity
Cross-cultural friendships
Resilience in the face of prejudice and exclusion
Cross-cultural mediation and conflict-resolution skills
Awareness of privilege and power dynamics
Why it works…

“Culture of Leadership” (Howard and Sugarman)




Taking initiative to seek knowledge
Public presentations
Responding to the needs of others
Building consensus and sharing leadership
Why education professionals care
about dual-language education

It is effective way for English learners to become
proficient in English while pursuing an enriched
curriculum.

It can diminish (or erase) the achievement gap
between low- and high-SES students in general,
and Latino and non-Latino white students in
particular.

It enhances cognitive, linguistic, and cross-cultural
skills.
Why social scientists care
about dual-language education

Schools institutionalizing “remaking the
mainstream” via a two-way model of immigrant
incorporation – Alba and Nee 2003, Logan et al. 2002,
López 1996, Yinger 1994

Institutional support for “selective acculturation”
– Portes and Rumbaut 1996, 2001; Portes and Zhou 1993

“Replenishment”

Global/transnational identities – nurtured or in
formation – Castles 2000, Levitt 2001
– Jiménez 2005
Some Challenges

From restrictive language policies, e.g., CA Prop. 227:
 Anti-bilingual political climate sometimes discourages
Spanish-speaking parents from choosing dual-language
education.
 Fewer Spanish-language materials

General:
 Demographics – differential mobility rates between
groups
 School-district support/ level of school autonomy
 In parent-driven programs, who is being served?
Recommendations
(district- and school-level)

Start planning & parent outreach two years ahead

Be strict about the balance between native English &
Spanish speakers
 Provide transportation so schools can draw from a
wider area

Anticipate needs in the higher grades (materials, how to
deal with transition to larger class sizes…)
A few key resources

Reyes, Sharon A. and Tatyana Kleyn. 2010.
Teaching in Two Languages: A Guide for K-12
Bilingual Educators. Corwin Press.

Howard, Elizabeth and Julie. 2007.Realizing the
Vision of Two-Way Immersion. Center for Applied
Linguistics.

Lindholm-Leary, Kathryn. 2004.Dual-Language
Education. Multilingual Matters.

Soltero, Sonia W. 2004. Dual-Language: Teaching
and Learning in Two Languages. Pearson
Education, Inc.
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