Dual Language Series: Part 3 -Programming Models for Emergent Bilinguals Differ in Goals and Outcomes

by D. Garcia

This is Part 3 in our Dual Language Series 

Serving our Emergent Bilinguals

Emergent Bilinguals, students who are learning in and through more than one language, are the largest, growing subgroup of students entering school in the United States.  The vast majority of United States emergent bilinguals are Spanish speakers. There are several program models designed to impact the learning, well being, biliteracy and achievement of the United States fastest growing population.  A variety of programs can be deemed successful depending on the intended goals and outcomes for learners.


Typically, emergent bilinguals enroll in programs intended to ensure English Language Acquisition and Development, such as Content Based ESL, Sheltered Instruction, or Push In/Pull Out English as a Second Language Courses, English Immersion and Transitional Bilingual Programs.  


These are not the only options for a growing number of emergent bilingual students whose parents have the opportunity to choose a program that ensures Bilingualism, Biliteracy, Academic Achievement in both English and a Partner Language, and Global/Multicultural Competence.  These programs can also include the opportunity to meet these goals for students who are already bilingual and students who enter school speaking only English or other languages, who wish to add English and the partner instructional language.  Programs that promote these goals are often referred to as Bilingual and Dual Language Immersion Programs.  A description of these programs will follow.


Subtractive vs. Additive Programs

This article will delve briefly into the ways in which emergent bilinguals are served in some communities.  Before getting to know these models better, it is important to address additive and subtractive opportunities for schooling.  From a linguistic equity perspective, an additive model of language acquisition includes the opportunity to add a new language to a developing language.  An additive model requires ongoing development of the developing language as well as the new language so that one does not replace the other, but both have the opportunity to grow.  Whereas a subtractive model of language acquisition adds a new language but fails to develop the existing language both in policy and practice.  Policy and practice as  systems, are different than willingness and individual disposition.  In the chart below, we recognize the countless teachers, teaching assistants and students themselves who use multilingual assets on an individual basis to support students in their learning. The often unintended consequence of subtractive language programs is the replacement of a students home language fluency and potential for academic literacy engagement, with monolingualism in English and English literacy with varying results.  It is crucial in understanding the program models the intended as well as the often unintended consequence.


In our district, we have struggled through the cultural shift of defining a program and defining service.  Over time, I have worked with several district leaders who generally ascribe to a monolingual paradigm whereby English Language Proficiency is the end goal.  Most federal and state policy make this seem like “the goal” and then tend to view English Language Development as a service, much like special education services a student requires until they meet some sort of exit criteria.  Where the service orientation falls short is in the area of bilingual education. If bilingual education is a “service”, students may be required to leave or terminate this service upon proficiency in English. It is crucial from a district policy perspective that when seeking an additive program model, it be viewed in policy as a program (see Los Angeles Policy), rather than a service.  It is critical that students who participate in a program have the opportunity to reclassify and become former English learners, but that this does not then communicate in policy or practice that bilingual programing is no longer “needed” or “desirable”, nor does it communicate that language learning has stopped. I have found in my own practice, as a district director of multilingual programming, one of the most persuasive ways to ensure policy around programing is when programs are inclusive of students who are not English learners are offered the opportunity to participate in the bilingual program. It is presumed these students are not English learners, although some are, and are adding their 3rd, 4th, or 5th language at school, and as a result, you position your district with the policy that there is no exiting the program. Teachers and curriculum leaders are the policy visionaries and usually policy considerations start amongst those knowledgeable about the work; however, teachers often lack the positional authority to bring the vision to action without district leadership.  Policy is crucial in developing a program and shifting that program out of the delicate and vulnerable service lens. For more information on states policies, click here.

ADDITIVE MODELS
Use policy and practice to ensure Bilingualism and Biliteracy
Dual Language Bilingual Education

Features:  

  • Minimally 50% core content instruction in language other than English
  • Minimum 7 years of program participation to meet goals
  • Leverage the cultural and linguistic assets of children in the community
  • Language as “content”, rather than consequence of content instruction
  • District Policy supports this specific program path and is used to ensure equity in curriculum, staffing, and resources

Goal:

  • Bilingualism and  Biliteracy
  • Academic proficiency in both languages across content areas
  • Global/Multicultural Competence

Who Participates:

  • All students can participate in Dual Language Bilingual Education
  • These programs are developed for the Emergent Bilingual who is learning English
  • English speaking community benefits from second language development, literacy and global/multicultural competence

Staff:

  • Teaching professionals must be bilingual in the program languages and hold required certification in bilingual education

Outcomes:

  • Highest academic achievement results as documented by Thomas and Collier link, Link
  • Qualify for state Seals of Biliteracy and other academic honors
  • Civic Engagement and Critical Inquiry

SUBTRACTIVE MODELS
Use policy and practice to ensure English Language Acquisition and Literacy. No policy supports systematic programming or practice for
Bilingualism and Biliteracy

Transitional Bilingual Education

Features:

  • First language instruction in Literacy and Language
  • Limited programming less than 7 years, but typically 2-3 years in elementary school
  • First language support until and so that English Language and Literacy develops
  • First language development is only a goal for English Language learning
  • Often, no policy exists to support transitional programing, rather it is viewed as a “service”

Who Participates:

  • Emergent Bilinguals of same language background who are English Learning

Staff:

  • Teaching Professionals must be bilingual in the two instructional languages and certified in bilingual education

Goal:

  • Support and develop home language so that transfer to English is supported
  • English Language and Literacy Proficiency

Outcome:

  • Initial literacy and language development in home language
  • English Language and Literacy Proficiency
  • Any literacy and academic language instruction in home language is better than English only instruction according to Thomas and Collier link, Link

Content ESL

Features:

  • English Immersion 100%
  • English Language Development is taught through the content area where both the Language and Content Standards drive the curriculum.
  • Language as “content”, rather than consequence of instruction
  • Often supported by District Policy

Goal:

  • English Language and Literacy Acquisition
  • Academic proficiency in English across content areas

Who participates:

  • Students who are identified as English Learning.  
  • Other students will benefit from co-teaching, when instruction is pushed into regular education environments

Staff:

  • Teaching professionals must be certified in ESL
  • It is not required to be bilingual nor to hold certification in content areas

Outcomes:

  • Compared to other programs with similar goals, outcomes appear to be less effective than Dual Language and more effective than English Immersion by Thomas and Collier link, Link
  • May qualify for academic honors, and potentially state Seals of Biliteracy if biliteracy has been achieved through community networks
  • Often the outcome is monolingualism in English

Sheltered Instruction-Content ESL

Features:

  • English Immersion 100%
  • English Language Development is taught through the content by certified EL and content area teacher
  • Language as “content”, rather than consequence of content instruction
  • Often supported by District Policy

Goal:

  • English Language and Literacy Acquisition
  • Academic proficiency in English across content areas

Who participates:

  • Only students who are identified as English Learning in clustered settings across proficiency levels  WIDA

Staff:

  • Teaching Professionals must be certified in ESL and the content area
  • Bilingual is not required

Outcomes:

  • Compared to other programs with similar goals, outcomes appear to be less effective than Dual Language and more effective than English Immersion by Thomas and Collier
  • May qualify for academic honors, and potentially state Seals of Biliteracy if biliteracy has been achieved through community networks
  • Often the outcome is monolingualism in English

English as a Second Language

Features:

  • Teaching of English Language and English Literacy
  • Multicultural competency for English learners to the country where they currently reside
  • ESL may be a part of a students services,
  • Often supported by District Policy

Goals:

  • Instruction of English in English
  • Acquire social and instructional language (WIDA Standards 1)

Who participates:

  • Only students who are learning English as their second language typically at entering, emerging and developing stages (WIDA)

Outcomes:

  • Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills to navigate daily life
  • English Language Learning with some exposure to content
  • The potential for English literacy as it related to phonological awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension
  • Alone, ESL is not able to support grade level content area language and content learning
  • Often the outcome is monolingualism in English, and without additional supports like Content ESL and Sheltered Instruction, can terminate in sink or swim unsupported English Immersion which develops the least proficient student

Reflection and Action

As you review the different service models, reflect on the professional and community assets in your district, considering the following questions:

  • Does your district have a large community of students who share the same home language?  
  • Do you have staff who are bilingual and biliterate in that language?  
  • Does your state, district or other governing entity provides guidelines around bilingual education-for example, is there language that indicates the threshold of students that requires your school or district to provide bilingual services?  
  • What type of action steps are needed to take your ESL program to the next level?  

 

See our set of professional learning offering options.

  

 




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