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What is Bilingual Education?

Bilingual Education is a program of instruction that uses the

student’s language as a tool of instruction while they begin learning
English, his/her second language. The program is meant to help the
student for three or four years until its determined that he/she can
successfully handle academic work entirely in English.

In addition to teaching students subject matter in Spanish, the

programs provides English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching

Successful bilingual programs provide instruction that instills,

confidence, self-assurance, and positive identify with their cultural
heritage. They learn about their history and culture of their ancestors,
as well as that of the United States.
Main Objective
The main objective of bilingual education is to help English
Language Learners (ELLs) students achieve success, both in their
current academic placement and in the future.

What are the goals of Bilingual Education?

Learning English is one of the primary goals of bilingual
education. The other goals of bilingual education are to:

❧ Insure access to comprehensible instruction in the native language.

❧ Provide access to content area instruction in the native language.

❧ Teach English as a Second Language instruction.

❧ Establish a warm and welcoming climate that supports cognitive

growth of language minority students.
Who is served?
Students who are limited-English proficient (LEP). The LEP
student may be from various language groups. In Texas approximately
98% of the LEP population is Spanish-speaking.
If at least twenty students from the same language group are
enrolled in a grade level. Texas law requires that the school district
provide a formal language program of instruction which uses both
languages of instruction.
How is eligibility determined?
Federal guidelines require that school district have procedures
in place that help them identify students who can benefit from a
bilingual program. When student enrolls in a Texas public school
parents are asked to identify:
❧ Which language the child learned first.
❧ Which language is most often spoken at home.
How is eligibility determined? (cont.)

Parents that answer both questions by naming a language other

than English are identified for further testing. Students are first
given a test in English.

Students who have difficulty in understanding and speaking

English are identified and placed in a special program.
1. ESL
2. Bilingual
The ultimate decision for program placement lies with the
parents. Under no circumstances should a district place a child in
either bilingual or an ESL program if the parent does not provide
How is it determined when a student is ready to exit the
bilingual program?
1. Development of student’s oral language level of proficiency skills.
2. Scores on English achievement test (40% in both English language
arts and reading are required).
Why do we need bilingual education?
❧ High failure rates for Hispanics during the 1950’s and 1960’s, the
dropout rates ranged from 60-70%. The “sink or swim” approach
may have worked for a few, but not all Hispanics.
❧ Students who are ready to read can do so in their strong primary
language, Spanish.
❧ Students do not have to sit in class waiting to learn English well to
begin learning content area instruction (math, social studies, science).
They are presented in Spanish while they are gradually introduce to
English using ESL techniques.
❧ Many of the reading skills learned in the native language will
transfer to the second language.
Will being in bilingual classes retard students’ academic
Research has shown that it takes four to seven years for
students to acquire cognitive academic language proficiency in the
second language. It is important to recognize that not all students have
had the same background experiences.
Research on Academic Achievement
❧ Concepts and skills that students learn in one language transfer to
another (Ramirez, 1992, study founded by Federal Government).
English immersion and early exit programs are inefficient to ELL’s
❧ ELL’s immersed in the English mainstream showed decreases in
reading and math achievement by Grade 5 (Collier and Thomas 2002)
❧ Strong primary language development helps students learn English
(Collier 1987)
❧ School related task require a fairly sophisticated grasp of language
(Collier and Thomas 1987).
Research on Academic Achievement (cont.)
❧ Students that are highly proficient in two languages appear to have
academic advantages over monolingual students (Cummings 2000)
❧Supporting primary language promotes self-esteem (Baker 1988 and
Miller 1990).
What is the program of instruction?
The implementation of the program of instruction addresses
three specific areas fo student needs:

❧ How it will teach English as a second language to the student.

❧ How it will teach the content area subject matter (science, math,
social studies).
❧ How the students will be helped so that he/she does not fail behind
his/her assigned grade level.
Bilingual Education Models
L1 Support
Late Transitional or
Developmental (K-6) Dual Language
Early Transitional (K-2) Or Two-Way
Structure immersion

Segregated Mixed

Submersion “Sink or Swim”

ESL Pull-Out
English immersion
ESL Self-Contained

No L1 Support
Transitional Bilingual Education
Transitional Bilingual Education uses students’ native
languages in teaching subject areas, and students uses progressively
more English to transit into the mainstream education curriculum. The
first language can be helpful in providing background knowledge, and
literacy transfer across languages. The main emphasis of transitional
bilingual education programs is to enable limited English proficient
through the development of literacy and academic skills in their native
Immersion Bilingual Programs
Immersion education is defined as using the standard,
approved schools curriculum taught in a foreign language. In other
words, the foreign language is use for the instruction of all subject
matter, and not taught as a separate subject. Teachers use gestures,
toys, language acquisition as they explore content areas such as math,
reading, social studies, science, and other curriculums. The idea to use
the immersion model for teaching foreign languages came from
Canada’s successful use of the program that started in 1965 (Peterson).
Immersion Bilingual Programs (cont.)
They are bilingual programs because the following
❧ The teacher is bilingual. Although the lesson is delivered in a
language that is new to the students, students can expressed
themselves and be understood in their own language.
❧ The language used for instruction is carefully modify and
mediated to improve students understanding. All instruction is
supported by use of visual media, and hands on experiences.
❧ Students usually received language arts instruction in their
primary language.

Immersion programs, like others, work best when their

emphasis is additive.
Two-Way Bilingual Immersion Programs

Two-way bilingual immersion programs (also known as dual

language programs) are unique in bilingual education in that they
foster literacy and native language ability in tow different languages
for all students in the curriculum, regardless of mother tongue. Two-
way immersion programs integrate language minority and language
majority students, providing instruction in both English and the native
language minority students. Overriding goals of two-way bilingual
immersion programs are to promote bilingualism and biliteracy, grade-
level academic achievement, and positive cross-cultural and behaviors
in all students.
Developmental Bilingual Programs

Developmental Bilingual Education, at also known as “Late

Exit” programs, proposes that the students stay in the program
throughout elementary school and continue to receive 40% or more of
instruction in the first language even when they have been tested as
English proficient (Rennie). The programs begin in elementary school
and extend through high school. From 1994 to 1995 , 38.4% of
students participated in state and local bilingual programs versus
29.9% participated in ESL programs (Summary). Key issues in this
program are the ways that the first language can positively affect
acquisition of other languages and that the human rights and culture
must be respected.
Early exit vs. Late exit

Jim Cummins found in studies that the better students have

master their first language, the better they will understand English
(Leung). It was found that the foundation of the first language would
best prepare students for learning academic English, a process lasting
from five to seven years , in a 1991 study, 2000 Spanish students in
five education programs were superior to “early exit” transitional
program (Leung). This study shows that the first language base
knowledge is central to the assimilation of other languages.
ESL Pull-Outs
In a pull-out program for ESL, ELLs are removed from the
“regular” class (in which they received their daily academic
instruction from a teacher who, probably, speaks ONLY English) so
that they can receive small-group instruction in English Language
Development (ELD) or ESL for a limited amount of time each day,
somewhere between 30 to 50 minutes. The pull-out students then
return to their “regular” classroom and continue to “learn” the content
areas from the English-ONLY teacher.

Most of the time, the pull-out program instructor, an aide or a

certified teacher, has little contact with the “regular” classroom teacher
in term of instruction planning . The ESL instructor, teacher or aide, ,
implements a program that may not be in any way, form or shape
connected to the daily content area lessons in their “regular” class
from their “regular” teacher.
Additive versus Subtractive Bilingualism
A Subtractive Bilingual: is a person who has replace a first
language with a new one; the first language is undeveloped or lost.
Students become subtractive bilingual in the absence of formal
schooling in their primary language. Such student may maintain oral
proficiency in their first language, but they do not enjoy the benefits of
language and literacy development for that language.
An additive bilingual: is a person who has learned a second
language in addition to a native language. Additive bilinguals have an
academic advantage over subtractive bilinguals and monolinguals.
The English Plus Movement
The English Plus Movement began as a political move to
guarantee freedom from discrimination based on language.
Representative Jose Serrano, (D-NY) of the 107th Congress,
introduced a nonbinding resolution around 1982 (English Plus). Other
similar measures have passed at the stage level as well. The policy
emerged to push more investments in language education for
Americans, and also to conserve bilingual education.

Proponents of English Plus thought that this type of education

could benefit employment, create more cultural awareness, and render
psychological benefits to this country. It was further stated that
national interest might be best served when all members of society can
receive access to opportunities to learn English. Further according to
the Constitution, language assistance must be available to all,
including U.S. citizens at other languages who have not had the
opportunity to learn English (English Plus).