Beyond English Development: Bilingual
Approaches to Teaching Immigrant
Students and English Language Learners
San Diego State University
University of Maryland
New Mexico State University
Educational policies for English language learners (ELLs) tend to focus
on English language acquisition. In this chapter, we argue that educators
need to give more attention to the development of bilingualism and biliteracy to draw upon the tremendous intellectual, linguistic, and cultural
resources that bilingual children bring to our schools. Bilingual education programs have the potential to develop language resources of multilingual immigrant students and ELLs that are otherwise neglected in
monolingual English programs. In their call for a new educational policy
agenda to meet the needs of immigrant students, C. Suárez-Orozco and
Suárez-Orozco (2009) argued that all students of the 21st century should
be able to function in multiple languages. They recommended that the
new administration “urge more schools to implement dual-language programs that, when well designed and managed, produce excellent results
to prepare competent bilingual speakers, immigrant and native alike” (C.
National Society for the Study of Education, Volume 109, Issue 2, pp. 384–413
Copyright © by National Society for the Study of Education, Columbia University
Beyond English Development 385
Suárez-Orozco & Suárez-Orozco, 2009, p. 10). In this statement, we note
the discourse around bilingual education shifting from its historical focus
on compensatory education for ELLs to enrichment education for all students, a shift we explore in this chapter.
In this chapter, we identify and explain bilingual approaches to teaching immigrant students and particularly ELLs in elementary schools. We
define different program models under the umbrella term of bilingual
education by first examining the sociopolitical climate in which bilingual
programs are situated. Next, we explain the theoretical underpinnings
and rationale for bilingual models followed by bilingual teaching practices more closely. In the fourth section, we present profiles of bilingual
programs across the United States. Finally, we suggest implications for
teacher education.
Historically, the education of ELLs has been largely directed by court
cases, (e.g., Brown v. Board of Education, 1954; Lau v. Nichols, 1974;
Castañeda Standards, 1981) and federal legislation (Civil Rights Act, 1964;
Elementary and Secondary Education Act, 1965; Bilingual Education Act,
1968). The Bilingual Education Act passed in 1968 paved the way for
bilingual education as an accommodation for ELLs (Baker, 2006). While
language of instruction was an important item debated within these
court cases and legislation, it emerged within the larger context of equitable access to education. However, recent years have borne witness to a
spate of education legislation that has emphasized English acquisition
through English instruction (Crawford, 2004). Anti-immigration sentiments further set a sociopolitical tone that has impacted the education of
all ELLs, whether foreign- or U.S.-born, as seen in the various Official
English legislation enacted in more than half of our nation’s states.
Arguably one of the most influential and controversial legislation was
California’s Proposition 227, English for the Children, which passed on
June 2, 1998. Bolstered by the passing of Proposition 227, a series of similar antibilingual education initiatives swept the United States, passing in
Arizona in 2000 and in Massachusetts in 2002, although failing to pass in
Colorado in 2002. Simultaneously, in 2002, the Bush administration
signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act, transforming the Bilingual
Education Act (Title VII) into the English Language Acquisition,
Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act. Under Title
III, funding previously specified for bilingual education was repealed
and folded into general funding to states for language learners and
386 National Society for the Study of Education
immigrant populations. With Title III, the pedagogical emphasis shifted
from supporting programs that used some form of native language
instruction (albeit as a means to reach English proficiency) to solely
focus on “English acquisition and academic achievement in English—not
the cultivation of bilingualism” (Ovando, Combs, & Collier, 2006, p. 68).
While these changes have been couched within the language of fair,
equal, and high-quality education, an emphasis on the teaching of
English has taken precedence, dictating accountability measures and the
tightly linked federal funds allocated to educating ELLs (Crawford,
2002). As noted by Schirling, Contreras, and Ayala (2000) in a study of
the impact of Proposition 227, this narrow focus on language actually
diminishes critical factors in the education of ELLs, including access to
grade-level content, quality instructional materials, and highly prepared
As demonstrated by public response to the English for the Children
propositions, public perception often holds that the majority of ELLs can
be found in bilingual education programs; however, in reality, the majority of these children receive their instruction in English-only programs
(Crawford, 2003). Although current nationwide figures are not available,
reports on the percentages of ELLs enrolled in bilingual programs in
California prior to Proposition 227 were close to 30%. These numbers
dropped to less than 9% after the passage of Proposition 227, and it is
estimated that the figures are even lower in other states1 (Crawford,
2003). The coalescing of these multiple sociopolitical factors has led to
the diminishment of many bilingual education programs over the past 20
years. Interestingly, however, two-way immersion (TWI) programs2 have
been on the rise, growing from fewer than 10 programs in 1981 to 346
programs across 27 states in 2009 (Howard & Sugarman, 2001; Center for
Applied Linguistics [CAL], 2009). The majority of TWI programs are
found in California at 107 schools, followed by Texas with 53 schools and
New York with 29 schools (CAL, 2009).
The most common bilingual programs include (1) transitional or earlyexit bilingual programs, (2) developmental, late-exit, or maintenance
bilingual programs, and (3) heritage or indigenous language programs,
and (4) two-way immersion or dual language programs.
3 A brief overview
of each program’s features follows with a more detailed look at TWI program models (National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition,
Beyond English Development 387
• The goal is to develop English proficiency skills as soon as possible,
while using a LOTE (language other than English, students’ dominant home language) for literacy and content instruction to avoid
delaying learning of academic core content.
• Instruction begins in the LOTE, but rapidly moves to English.
• Students typically are transitioned into mainstream classrooms with
their English-speaking peers as soon as possible.
• The goal is to develop literacy skills and proficiency in the LOTE and
strong parallel skills and proficiency in English.
• Content and literacy is taught in both languages.
• Instruction at lower grades is in the LOTE, gradually transitioning to
English; students typically transition into mainstream classrooms
with their English-speaking peers in upper elementary.
• The variations among programs focus on different degrees of literacy in the LOTE, but students generally do continue to receive some
degree of support in the LOTE after the transition to L2 classrooms.
• The goal is literacy in two languages.
• Content is taught in both languages by teachers fluent in both languages.
• Typically targets heritage language students seeking to further
strengthen their LOTE literacy skills.
• Known by the name Indigenous Language Program particularly in
American Indian educational communities, the program supports
endangered languages and serves students with weak receptive and
productive skills in the heritage language.
• The goal is to develop strong literacy skills and language proficiency
in English and the LOTE.
• Includes language minority students (who use a common LOTE at
home) and language majority students (who use English at home).
388 National Society for the Study of Education
Ideally, dual language programs enroll a balance of native speakers
of each language and integrate students throughout the school day.
• Academic content and literacy taught in the LOTE and English (a
minimum of 50% of instructional time is in the LOTE; instruction
varies from 90/10 models to 50/50 models, which are often implemented in states where achievement tests in English begin in early
grades and schools are under pressure to demonstrate outcomes in
English before a 90/10 model may allow). These models have local
variations, which are described in the case studies section below.
• Students typically stay in the program throughout elementary school
with some programs extending into middle and high schools.
As Hornberger (1994) argued, bilingual education models describe
more than program design at the school level—they also represent language ideologies situated in sociopolitical contexts. As we consider the
best educational practices for our immigrant students and ELLs, we must
also critically examine the larger societal goals and ideologies that undergird program models. In Table 1 below, we refer to Ruiz’s (1988) three
ideological orientations of language planning that have been used to
describe bilingual education models (see Hornberger, 1994). For example, the “language as problem” perspective views LOTEs as “a social probBilingual Models Transitional Maintenance/
Heritage or
Two-way Immersion/
Goals for
Move to
Maintain LOTE &
acquire English
Maintain or
develop literacy in
LOTE and
maintain or
acquire English
Develop bilingualism
and biliteracy in
English and LOTE
Cultural context Assimilation to
(Kindler, 1995)
Promote cultural
heritage & civil
rights affirmation
Promote cultural
Cultural pluralism,
social autonomy
(Kindler, 1995)
View of LOTEs Language as a
(Ruiz, 1988)
Language as a right
(Nieto, 2001; Ruiz,
Language as a right
(Matthews &
Matthews, 2004;
Nieto, 2001)
Language as a
(Herpe & Mantero,
2007; Ruiz, 1988)
Students Minority language (LOTE)
Minority language
(LOTE) speakers
Heritage language
learners of LOTE
Minority & Majority
language speakers
(Bahamonde &
Friend, 1999)
Table 1. Socially Situating Bilingual Education Program Model Goals
Beyond English Development 389
lem to be identified operationally and resolved through treatments like
transitional bilingual education” (Ruiz, 1988, p. 17). The “language as
right” orientation views the use of minority languages as a basic human
and civil right for their speakers, and Ruiz presented an alternative “language as resource” orientation that views minority languages as resources
for society as a whole to be potentially cultivated and developed in public schools (Hornberger, 1994). Drawing upon earlier work that compares bilingual models (Hornberger, 1994; Ruíz, 1988), Table 1
delineates different models of bilingual education to show how each
reflects ideologies and discourse about the value of bilingualism.
Dual language education has been lauded as a bilingual program that
promises “to expand our nation’s language resources…[and offers] hope
of improving relationships between majority and minority groups by
enhancing cross-cultural understanding and appreciation” (Christian,
1996, p. 74). The goals of dual language bilingual education state that all
students will (1) become bilingual and biliterate, (2) achieve academic
grade-level standards, and (3) demonstrate positive cross-cultural attitudes and multicultural understanding. This bilingual education model
provides an additive experience for monolingual and bilingual students
so that, by the fifth or sixth grade, they have achieved high levels of bilingualism and biliteracy (Bikle, Billings, & Hakuta 2003).
Dual language contexts aim to separate languages by space, time, or
instructor to encourage consistency in language use from both students
and teachers. Students often have two instructors, each assigned to teach
a specific language. In programs with one instructor, languages are often
differentiated by time or alternating days (Lindholm-Leary, 2001; Palmer,
2006). This type of separation is meant to develop balanced bilingualism
through monolingual instructional contexts (O. García, 2009; LindholmLeary, 2001); however, there is debate over whether this allows for bilingualism or parallel monolingualism4 (see Fitts, 2006; Hayes, 2005; Lee,
Bonnet-Hill, & Gillespie, 2008). Programs vary by the language in which
content areas are taught. In dual language programs, English-dominant
students, LOTE-dominant students, and bilingual students are integrated
for most classroom instruction. Teachers are encouraged to use heterogeneous groupings, which position students as experts and learners in alternate languages as they work in different target languages.
Dual language program models differ widely in how they approach
biliteracy development. In some programs, in grades K–2, both the
LOTE-dominant students and the English-dominant students first learn
390 National Society for the Study of Education
to read and write in the LOTE. LOTE-dominant students expand their
first language (e.g., Spanish) by further developing their speaking, listening, reading, and writing in that language while simultaneously learning
to speak their second language (English). In other programs, initial literacy is differentiated for different language groups, and students initially
learn to read and write in their native languages. In the 50/50 model, literacy instruction usually begins equally in both languages (Howard &
Sugarman, 2007). Although all students may not acquire native-like fluency in both languages, most students do achieve grade-level literacy
skills (Genesee, Lindholm-Leary, Saunders, & Christian, 2006). Research
has found that English learners’ reading proficiency in English exceeds
that of their peers who receive English as a second language (ESL)
instruction (Lindholm-Leary, 2001; Ramírez, Yuen, & Ramey, 1991;
Thomas & Collier, 1997, 2002).
The rationale for bilingual education is grounded in theories of second
language acquisition that include explanations of language learning for
minority- and majority-language students. One of the most comprehensive theoretical models for second language acquisition (particularly
from a cognitive perspective, which has played an important role informing bilingual program design) is the Input-Interaction-Output (IIO)
model, which has been developed across several studies (Gass, 1997;
Long, 1996; Mackey, 2007). The literature falling under this theoretical
model explains how language learning is facilitated when students have
access to comprehensible input, interaction with proficient language
users, and opportunities to produce output in target languages (Gass,
1997; Hatch, 1992; Krashen, 1985; Long, 1996; Long & Porter, 1985;
Mackey, 2007; Mackey, Gass, & McDonough, 2000; Pica, 1994; Swain,
1985; Fillmore, 1991). This theoretical base is drawn upon to describe the
goals and essential elements of dual language education, which include
the importance of “input that is comprehensible,” “opportunities for output,” and “positive interactions among students” (Christian, 1996, p. 68).
Cummins (1979) made an important contribution to second language
acquisition theory when he proposed his theory of “common underlying
proficiency” to explain a bilingual individual’s common framework of
understanding and the shared cognitive academic skills underlying both
languages. According to Cummins, a bilingual student’s first and second
languages both promote the development of a common underlying proficiency that supports academic literacy. Cummins called attention to the
transfer of cognitive, academic, and linguistic competencies from the
Beyond English Development 391
native language to another language. This notion of transfer has been
supported in subsequent research (Lanauze & Snow, 1989; Royar &
Carlo, 1991). Other researchers, such as Hernández (2001) and Pérez
(2004), have shown that the transfer of skills can work both ways, namely,
that mastering the second language can improve the students’ skills in
their primary language. Several researchers have demonstrated that successful ELL readers and writers use similar strategies for reading and writing in both languages, whereas less successful ELL readers and writers do
not transfer skills across languages as readily (Genesee et al., 2006;
Jimenez, Garcia, & Pearson, 1995). Indeed, empirical research has shown
that instruction in students’ home languages can support learning a second language (Bialystok & Hakuta, 1994; Collier, 1992; Cummins, 1984;
Genesee et al., 2006; Krashen, 1985, 1996; Lambert & Tucker, 1972;
Fillmore & Valadez, 1986; Rolstad, Mahoney, & Glass, 2005). In their synthesis of studies on language of instruction, Genesee, Lindholm-Leary,
Saunders, and Christian (2006) cited evidence in support of maintaining
and developing ELLs’ home language. They also concluded that “contrary to time-on-task hypothesis, ELLs can accommodate instruction in
two languages without costs to their English-language development” (p.
García and Beltrán (2005) argued that “native language or primary language use” is the “central pillar that supports literacy development in all
sound instructional blueprints for English learners” (p. 201). Bilingual
education that uses home languages for instruction has been shown to
help ELLs develop higher levels of English proficiency (August &
Shanahan, 2006; Genesee et al., 2006) and to promote better outcomes
in terms of academic achievement, graduation rates, and attitudes toward
school (August & Hakuta, 1997; Genesee et al., 2006; Lindholm-Leary &
Borsato, 2001; Ramírez et al., 1991; Thomas & Collier, 1997, 2002).
Although there is still a gap between ELLs and proficient English students in many bilingual schools, dual language programs seem to offer
the most promise in closing that gap (Howard, Sugarman, & Christian,
2003; Thomas & Collier, 1997, 2002).
While Cummins’s work has supported the importance of bilingual education for language-minority student success, some scholars (MacSwan,
2000; MacSwan & Rolstad, 2003) warned that Cummins’s work might
contribute to a deficit view of language learners. MacSwan (2000) argued
that, rather than place the locus of academic failure on individual student language proficiency, we need to consider alternative explanations
that also take into account contextual factors that lead to academic literacy and school success.
Most researchers agree that promoting academic success for immigrant
392 National Society for the Study of Education
students and English learners goes beyond language or languages of
instruction. Cummins’s later work (1984, 1996, 2000) along with the
work of other scholars have shown that socioeconomic status (SES), sociolinguistic status, previous schooling, and the literacy skills second language learners have in their first language are also strong determiners of
academic success (Krashen, 1996; MacSwan & Rolstad, 2003; Rolstad,
1997; Thomas & Collier, 1997). We agree that scholars in the field must
carefully “consider the ways in which the institutional effects of our labels
may contribute more to the malady than to the proposed remedy of the
learners” (MacSwan, 2000, p. 38).
Much of the foundational research about bilingual education has been
undergirded by second language acquisition (SLA) research from a cognitive paradigm. Yet, in recent years, the field of language education has
taken a social turn (see Block, 2003), as scholars have argued the need to
socially situate SLA (see Firth & Wagner, 1997, 2007). Along with this
shift of research toward language learning as a social process, a push to
move further away from language-as-deficit models seems to be present.
Instead of using the acquisition metaphor that frames linguistic knowledge as a commodity and individual minds as containers for that commodity (which undergirded theories of semilingualism), sociocultural
theorists have suggested that second language research should expand its
frame by using the participation metaphor (Sfard, 1998; Swain, 2000).
Lantolf and Pavlenko (2001) set forth a Second Language Activity framework, which views learners as historically and socially situated individuals
with human agency who choose, refuse, and construct language-learning
opportunities. For researchers analyzing bilingual education models, relevant variables such as class location, social power, cultural values, and
congruent learning experiences have become increasingly important
(Bahamonde, & Friend, 1999; Christian, 1996; Rolstad, 1997).
As we describe selected case studies of bilingual programs in this chapter, it becomes evident how these extralinguistic factors have an important
impact on the development of bilingualism and biliteracy at school.
Programs such as dual language have attempted to recognize sociocultural
factors in their program design and goals. Students’ diverse experiences
offer enriched opportunities for bilingual learning at school and also
reveal the sociocultural complexities of language learning. Although studies have found that dual language programs are constantly struggling with
issues of equity and power, these school sites may offer a productive space
where dialogue about these issues is moving the field forward (Palmer,
2009; Martin-Beltrán, 2006). Despite the challenges schools face in terms
of unequal power relations that inevitably make their way into the classroom, dual language schools continue to provide a unique space where
Beyond English Development 393
two languages are valued as academic resources (Martin-Beltrán, 2009).
While much research has confirmed the success of dual-immersion
programs with measures of high academic achievement (Alanis, 2000;
Christian, Howard, & Loeb, 2000; Howard, Christian, & Genesee, 2003;
de Jong, 2002; Lindholm-Leary, 2001; Lindholm-Leary, 2004; Thomas &
Collier, 2002), more research is needed to examine language learning,
biliteracy development, and teaching practices (for a review of the
research, see Howard,Sugarman,& Christian, 2003). Bringing more than
one language to public space in schools has been shown to have multiple
benefits, both cognitive and social (Martin-Beltrán, 2009); however, several studies have documented the challenges dual immersion programs
face in fostering balanced bilingualism (Fitts, 2006; Hayes, 2005; Lee et
al., 2008; Palmer, 2009). Despite these challenges, studies have also
shown that ELLs in dual language settings may have increased access to
English embedded in LOTEs and multilingual practices (which are representative of the multilingual communities outside of the classroom) in
ways that are not available in monolingual English settings (Gutiérrez,
Baquedano-López, Alvarez, & Chiu, 1999; Martin-Beltrán, 2010).
Because teachers, administrators, and parents see biliteracy as crucial to
the success of the dual language program, much attention is given to how
well children are reading and writing in their two languages (Cloud,
Genesee, & Hamayan, 2000; Lindholm-Leary, 2001; Perez, 2004).
Although the whole language approach to literacy instruction was the
norm in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a shift toward more balanced and
comprehensive methodologies for reading and writing instruction has
taken place (Pressley, 1998; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). This was also
the case with dual language programs. Those programs that began during this time period implemented whole language instruction in the
LOTE and in the English language arts (Edelsky, 1986; Howard &
Sugarman, 2007; Lindholm-Leary, 2001), and they, too, have since
moved toward comprehensive balanced models of biliteracy (Howard &
Sugarman, 2007; Lindholm-Leary, 2001).
Dual language schools have adopted balanced and comprehensive
approaches to meet the wide range of needs (Howard & Sugarman, 2007;
Pérez, 2004). A comprehensive approach to literacy includes process,
direct teaching, and interactive approaches. The process approach focuses
on engaging students in using holistically language-rich environments,
which includes authentic literature activities, and free reading and writing, rather than activities soley drawn from the reading basal texts. The
394 National Society for the Study of Education
direct teaching approach focuses on the explicit teaching of specific skills
and subskills, including phonics and phonemic awareness skills, needed
for reading and writing. The interactive approach focuses on engaging
learners in reading and writing with others—that is, in pairs or small
groups—to learn both specific cognitive skills and the cultural aspects of
literacy, such as how to talk about something one has read. The interactive approach engages small groups of participants in collaborative projects, which allow for many opportunities to learn and to apply
knowledge. Thus, dual language teachers engage students in authentic
literature, communicative activities, and theme-based units of instruction
to support individuals’ academic development through mediated social
interactions with adults, including direct teaching as needed to help the
children become biliterate (Lindholm-Leary, 2001; Howard &
Sugarman, 2007; Pérez, 2004).
Integrated instruction also requires differentiated instruction for students with different levels of language proficiency. In the words of one
dual language teacher:
I’m reading a big book to the group and one child is still at the
very early receptive stage…that child can come up and find a picture in the book and then repeat the word…the next child can
respond orally, and the third child can make a prediction.
(Howard & Sugarman, 2007, pp. 27–28)
Thus, the teacher maintains the grade-level curriculum but makes
adjustments in instruction so that all students can participate (Howard &
Sugarman, 2007, pp. 27–28).
In a study of two dual language immersion programs in the San
Antonio area of Texas, Pérez (2004) described several exemplary instructional practices. First, the teachers expected that, by second grade, all students would be reading and writing informational texts in science and
social science in Spanish. This was deemed a key literacy benchmark so
that students would be ready to build their English literacy skills in third
grade. By fourth grade, the teachers focused on helping the children utilize their new English reading and writing skills and employ those skills
to master content areas. Furthermore, the third-grade teachers expected
the students to begin reading English texts that were approximately at
the same linguistic level as those they were already reading in Spanish.
This important transition to English texts occurred in guided smallgroup reading times, during which the teachers could monitor the children carefully, an indicator that the curriculum and the instruction were
designed to lead to successful biliteracy.
Beyond English Development 395
In addition to biliteracy development, teachers need to incorporate
teaching strategies to support students as they continue to expand their
oral language development in each of the content areas. In her study of
14 dual language classrooms, Pérez (2004) described strategies that dual
language teachers use to promote oral language, which include increasing wait time for children to formulate responses in their second language, encouraging students to respond in any language, encouraging
students to think in the second language, allowing students to ask a peer
for assistance, allowing students to pass, and using written prompts or
sentence stems to assist with academic language responses. Thus, language plays a central role in all of the curricular areas.
Peer interaction studies have suggested that creating rich opportunities
for using language in social settings produces positive oral language outcomes, conceptual learning, problem-solving, and higher-order thinking
skills (Cohen, 1994; Kagan, 2000; Long & Porter, 1985; Palinscar &
Brown, 1984; Qin, Johnson, & Johnson, 1995; Slavin & Karweit, 1985). As
part of their bilingual methodology, dual language programs incorporate
group work because of its effectiveness in enhancing talk and learning
through interactions (Cohen, 1994; Kagan, 2000; Slavin, 1990). However,
these interactions involve more than just bringing native English speakers together with partner language speakers (Cohen, 1994, 1997;
Freeman, 1998; Genesee et al., 2006; Slavin, 1996). The interactions must
be carefully crafted to balance equitable participation, as well as opportunities for language-rich discourse within a challenging academic content. As Lindholm-Leary (2001) noted, “promoting highly proficient oral
language skills necessitates providing both structured tasks and unstructured opportunities involving oral production skills in which students can
engage” (p. 67).
Interactions in cooperative learning groups are influenced by the
nature of the tasks assigned to the students by the teacher, by the students’ interpretations of those tasks, and by the nature of the students’
talk as they negotiate the requirements of the tasks (Cohen, 1994;
Palmer, 2006). As Cohen (1994) and Slavin (1996) have shown, peer
interaction in group work requires that tasks be structured for interdependence, which means that all the group members have opportunities
to contribute in a relatively equal manner and that teacher-assigned tasks
incorporate a wide range of intellectual abilities. Naturally, teachers must
establish norms for students’ interactions in groups to curtail inequities
that can occur, such as dialogues being taken over by the most verbally
396 National Society for the Study of Education
dominant students in the group (Cohen, 1994).
Palmer (2006), who studied a dual language second-grade classroom in
Northern California, detailed the behavior of the overly zealous Englishdominant students during the reading instruction in the partner language in a heterogeneous group. These children were determined to
answer every question the teacher asked, jumped up to interrupt her,
and, in general, left less time for other students to participate in instructional discussions. To ensure the equal participation of all students, the
teacher directly asked them not to interrupt each other, used a round
robin structure so that everyone had a turn, and corrected linguistic
errors. Additionally, the teacher listened to each student and encouraged
each of the partner language students to extend their thinking about the
story. In one particular group reading lesson, in the course of the reading discussion, the over-zealous student was encouraged to listen to others, and in a turn of events, rather than interrupting, he introduced his
idea by acknowledging the point made by the previous student, an ELL.
In this instance, the teacher’s persistence in encouraging equitable participation from both the dominant student and the quieter partner language students contributed to a productive discussion.
Another important feature of bilingual methodology in dual language
programs is the use of sheltered instruction that scaffolds and supports
students’ learning content in their second language. A number of
resources exist for administrators and teachers to guide instruction for
students learning content in a second language. One of these is the TwoWay Immersion Observation Protocol (TWIOP), which was modified
from Echevarria, Vogt, and Short’s (2000) well-known Sheltered
Instruction Observational Protocol (SIOP). Both the TWIOP and the
SIOP are frameworks for sheltering the linguistic and content instruction
of second language learners—grounded in the Input-Interaction-Output
theoretical model for second language acquisition (described above).
However, whereas SIOP guides the instruction for students only in the
second language, TWIOP guides teachers’ instruction in both the first
and second languages.
TWIOP provides a set of recommended guidelines for classroom
instruction that build on all eight SIOP components: preparation of
lessons, building background, comprehensible input, strategies, interaction, practice/application, lesson delivery, and review/assessment. The
three modifications specific to TWIOP are curricular planning for two
Beyond English Development 397
languages, communication tools for group work for both groups of students working in their second languages, and cross-cultural understanding. Insofar as curricular planning is concerned, the TWIOP authors,
Howard, Sugarman, and Coburn (2006), illustrated several recommended classroom practices for dual language programs. One such recommendation is to coordinate the linguistic and content objectives by
introducing them in one language and then extending them in the partner language, or vice versa. For example, the teacher can introduce
nouns in English and then present the idea that nouns have gender in
Spanish. Alternatively, the teacher could develop vocabulary by using
cognates, such as la historia and the history. In terms of communication
tools, TWIOP recommends that students learn different types of strategies to communicate with peers in the second language, both linguistically and in terms of content. Working in small groups, students are
encouraged to use tools such as visuals and gestures to enhance their
communications, while maintaining wait time, since everyone is operating in a second language. As for cross-cultural understanding, TWIOP
recommends that, for every teaching unit, at least one lesson should be
devoted to cross-cultural issues. For example, lessons can focus on a specific community’s cultural heritage or could allow opportunities for crosscultural comparisons when students share stories from their diverse
communities of practice.
One challenge that biliteracy teachers and school curriculum directors
often face is finding appropriate teaching texts and materials for literacy
instruction in LOTEs. Some basal reading texts attempt to map the literacy norms and practices of the dominant language onto minority languages. For example, Spanish basal texts that use individual phonemes
(based on English basal texts) create a disjuncture for bilingual teachers
who have traditionally used the syllabic approach to Spanish literacy
In general, the curricula of bilingual education programs are driven by
standards established by the individual states, which have been developed
for English-speaking students in mainstream schools. However, a few
agencies, such as the San Diego County Office of Education and the
World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment Consortium (WIDA),
whose members include 20 states, have published Spanish language arts
standards to provide teachers with authentic language competencies for
students studying in Spanish. These standards were designed to direct
Spanish language arts instruction rather than having it driven by stan-
398 National Society for the Study of Education
dards written for reading and language arts in English.
Another challenge that teachers and school curriculum directors often
face is the lack of available LOTE books (Spanish) in comparison to the
sheer number of English language books available. Fránquiz and Reyes
(1998), in their study of library resources found that children could neither find nor check out books in Spanish that were comparable to those
in English.
Although language educators, for the most part, argue that languages
should be kept separate during instructional time, researchers have suggested important exceptions to this rule (Galindo, 1993; O. García, 2009;
Jiménez, 2000; Pérez, 2004). Some researchers have argued that ELLs
need literacy development experiences that are connected to their bilingual abilities and their bicultural practices (Galindo, 1993; O. García,
2009; Jiménez, 2000). Students have been found to cross over language
borders and counter monolingual norms using hybrid language practices, code-switching, and borrowing across languages throughout their
everyday lives (Gutiérrez et al., 1999).
Pérez (2004) suggested that, by fifth or sixth grade, teachers could
incorporate a unit on bilingual communication that includes hybrid
practices to show how people communicate as they become bilingual.
Thus, assignments can be in both languages, followed by a critical analysis and discussion of how the two versions of the assignment do and do
not differ and how the language use is similar and different (Pérez,
2004). Some upper-grade teachers in dual language programs compare
and contrast the two languages, which develop students’ metalinguistic
skills (Cummins, 2007; O. García, 2009; Martin-Beltrán, 2010). Teachers
play an important role in their classrooms encouraging talk about language and positioning bilingual practices as resources (Martin-Beltrán,
2009). Nagy, García, Durgunoglu, and Hancin-Bhatt (1993) found that,
when students were asked to circle cognates, the children missed many of
them simply because these were never taught to them. This finding suggests that teachers need to give more direct attention to the connections
across languages in their instruction, which has the potential to develop
linguistic and conceptual understanding in both languages.
In the next section, we describe case study examples of bilingual programs, focusing on dual language programs, which will likely be the most
politically sustainable model in the future. In addition to providing a
snapshot of bilingual models at work at the school level, these case stud-
Beyond English Development 399
ies illustrate ways in which bilingual programs seek to integrate students’
bilingual communities of practice in their goals and curriculum.
To survive in this era of accountability where success is often narrowly
measured through English language acquisition, bilingual programs are
in a state of evolution. In this version of evolution, bilingual programs
find themselves engaged in the processes of reconfiguring, renaming,
repackaging, and, in some cases, reinventing themselves to survive amidst
the sociopolitical pressures from federal and state governments, districts,
and the general public. Amidst these pressures are bilingual programs
experiencing tremendous success in providing an equitable education to
their ELLs, while developing bilingual and biliterate students and also
meeting state English assessment benchmarks. In this section, we
describe four such successful programs as described in research by
Howard and Sugarman (2007). We then focus our discussion on a case
study of one Southern California dual language program which we studied firsthand, to exemplify the evolutionary process so many bilingual
programs are currently undergoing.
As a result of their synthesis of research about dual language—specifically, TWI—programs across the United States, Howard and Sugarman
(2007) profiled four TWI programs whose students demonstrated high
levels of bilingualism, biliteracy, and academic achievement. In spite of
increased external pressures and high-stakes standardized achievement
testing in English, Howard and Sugarman (2007) concluded that these
schools were effective because they had developed “cultures of intellectualism, equity, and leadership” (p. 10). In this section, we provide an
overview of these programs that represent a variety of approaches to TWI
models, drawing from Howard and Sugarman’s (2007) research and
referring directly to the ways these schools describe themselves on their
websites (see Howard & Sugarman, 2007 for more details). We describe
how each school is continually adapting its model as they all remain
strong advocates for bilingual education.
Alicia Chacón International School, located in El Paso, Texas is a unique
TWI school because it goes beyond bilingualism to promote multilingualism. In addition to instruction in Spanish and English, all students (many
of whom enter school highly bilingual) choose to learn a third
400 National Society for the Study of Education
language—Mandarin Chinese, German, Japanese, or Russian. In kindergarten to second grade, 80% of instruction is in Spanish, 10% is in
English and 10% in a third language. In third and fourth grade, 60% is
in Spanish, 30% in English, and 10% in a third language. Initial literacy
instruction is in Spanish, and language arts lessons are integrated into
the subject areas. The school’s ability to maintain a strong Spanish literacy program in the early grades may be related to their unique testing
context. Texas is one of the few states in the nation to offer standardized
Language of Instruction Spanish English Third language
% of day
80% 10% 10%
Math Social Studies Students in Kinder-4th Grade
receive 30 minutes daily of 3rd
Language Arts
3rd-4th Grade
% of day
60% 30% 10%
Math Social Studies All students also participate in a
cultural activity &
physical education twice/week
related to the 3rd language
Language Arts
Language Arts
5th-6th Grade
% of day
45% 45% 10%
Math Social Studies 5th-8th graders receive 45
minutes of 3rd language classes
on alternating days
Language Arts
Language Arts
7th-8th Grade
% of day
30% 60% 10%
AP Spanish Social Studies
Language Arts
Table 2. Alicia Chacón International School Instruction Program
Beyond English Development 401
achievement tests in Spanish, which are recognized by No Child Left
Behind. As they describe on their school website, “Since the primary language of instruction in the lower grades is Spanish, all students in 3rd
and 4th grade take the TAKS test in Spanish, while all students in 5th-8th
grade take the exam in English” (“Frequently Asked Questions,” n.d.).
The majority of the students are Latino, but the study body in this magnet school is balanced in terms of language dominance with relatively
equal numbers of Spanish dominant students, English dominant students and balanced bilingual students. Table 2 describes the breakdown
of language of instruction described on their school website (“Frequently
Asked Questions,” n.d.).
Located in Framingham, Massachusetts, Barbieri Elementary School is
an interesting case because, in 2007, this school changed their TWI
model to increase Spanish instruction in the early grades, despite the passage of an antibilingual education initiative in 2002. Before 2007, the
school was implementing differentiated literacy instruction, separating
students by native language during language arts. They reconsidered this
model in response to their school evaluation and participation in
research projects that recommended further integration of students to
meet TWI goals. In their new model, all students are integrated for both
literacy and content instruction, which begins with 80% in Spanish and
20% in English. The ratio increases to 50/50 by the fifth grade. Parent
involvement and bilingual advocacy is an important part of this school
community, which is evident in their special parent forum “Padres
Aprenden También/Parents Learn Too,” designed to help parents learn
more about how a child acquires a second language and how children
learn in the early years of bilingual school.
Francis Scott Key Elementary School, located in Arlington, Virginia, was
one of the pioneers in two-way immersion, beginning their program in
1986. They clearly articulate bilingualism and biliteracy as part of their
school mission and in their school beliefs, which state that all teachers
must “believe that bilingualism is a viable and integral part of each student’s educational experience” (“Beliefs,” n.d.). They follow a 50/50
model with instructional time divided equally between English and
Spanish and all students developing initial literacy skills in two languages.
Although they aim to integrate students throughout the day, they differ-
402 National Society for the Study of Education
entiate instruction during English language arts when students are separated by ability levels to work with the classroom teacher or resource
teachers. In recent years, there have been demographic changes due to
rising housing prices that have led to fewer Spanish dominant students in
the school. As Howard and Sugarman (2007) explained, “although the
ratio of Hispanic to non-Hispanic students at Key is still about 50/50,
many of the Hispanic students are English dominant or balanced bilinguals” (p. 151). Thus, the school has begun to “move the model closer to
foreign language immersion than TWI,” which also runs the risk of
neglecting the needs of Spanish dominant students/ELLs (Howard &
Sugarman, p. 152). This program has increased Spanish instruction,
including Spanish vocabulary intervention, in response to a district evaluation that found lower Spanish language arts achievement (Howard &
Sugarman, 2007). Students at Key have done exceptionally well on state
achievement tests administered in English (see Howard & Sugarman,
Founded in 1974 and located in Chicago, Illinois, Inter-American
Magnet School (IAMS) describes themselves as having an “award-winning
dual language immersion program” and “one of the oldest and most
comprehensive dual language (also known as two-way immersion)
schools in the Midwestern United States” (http://www.iamschicago.
com/). In their school mission, they explicitly refer to students achieving
high proficiency and developing literacy skills in Spanish and English.
They also include a designated place on their school website that
explains the benefits of bilingualism for students. The school follows an
80/20 model with all content taught in Spanish in K-4, transitioning to a
50/50 instructional ratio by fifth grade with science taught in English in
grades 5-8. They separate students by native language for initial literacy
instruction and targeted second language instruction. English instruction is provided during the language arts period for dominant English
students and during ESL for dominant Spanish students. Despite what
may seem like a low percentage of instruction in English, IAMS students
have outperformed their peers on state achievement tests in English. For
example, in third grade 87% of students met or exceeded district and
state performance in reading compared with 45% of students in English
only programs in the same district (Howard & Sugarman, 2007).
Beyond English Development 403
Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School (CVLCC) is a dual language school that began in 1998, serving students in grades K-6. In 2009,
CVLCC expanded to include grade 7 and has plans to incorporate grade
8 in 2010. Drawing on a 50/50 model, one half of the day’s instruction is
conducted in Spanish with the other half conducted in English.
Instruction for Spanish language arts, writing, history/social science, and
science (for grades K-3), is conducted in Spanish. English instruction
focuses on English language arts, mathematics, and science (for grades
The school serves a majority of LOTE (Spanish) speakers, with many
of the native English speakers commuting from outside communities.
Their mission is to serve as a model for student achievement via standards-based curriculum, bilingualism, and parent and community participation (“Our Mission,” 2009). CVLCC outlines their core beliefs as
including a commitment to “academic, social, civic, and character development” as well as celebrating diversity, establishing a learning community, valuing other languages, achieving academic excellence, and
developing in students an awareness of global perspectives (“Our
Mission,” 2009).
Several key features of CVLCC include its MicroSociety® Program, a
research-based program in which classrooms function as small global
communities. Working with community volunteers, students spend one
class period each day “on the job” applying what they learned during
their classes:
[The students] learn to run businesses, apply technology,
develop government and social agencies, and create
cultural/arts organizations. Gradually, students become
immersed in the realities of a free-market economy, replete with
taxes, property concerns, income issues, and politics.
MicroSociety® enables teachers to answer two persistent questions students ask: ‘Why do I need to know this?’ and ‘How do I
fit in?’ (“Our Mission,” 2009)
Another unique feature of CVLCC is the Intergenerational Program,
in which senior citizens participate in daily activities as a way to build and
strengthen intergenerational relationships between students and older
adults. To meet these goals, affordable housing for senior citizens was
created on the school campus. A third feature of CVLCC is their Service
404 National Society for the Study of Education
Learning Projects. These projects align with the MicroSociety® Program
goals and involve a process of action research in which students investigate local community needs, identify a plan for service, enact their plan,
and reflect on its implementation and effectiveness.
The story of CVLCC is both interesting and familiar: It is a story of educators and parents who believe in the benefits of a bilingual education for
majority and minority speakers alike. It is a story of educators and parents
using what could be considered a conservative model, the charter school,
to implement and realize a progressive agenda, bilingualism and biliteracy development from an additive perspective. It is also a story of adaptation and evolution, as the CVLCC community faces the sociopolitical
pressures of a narrow view of success, which, regardless of program goals,
is determined via English-language performance measures.
One of the critical pressures experienced by schools, particularly those
serving ELLs, is the emphasis on success defined by performance on
English-language assessment measures. Thus, as bilingual programs
evolve, they are faced with decisions on what should count as “success”
and how to balance internal program goals with those outside pressures
that often do not value or measure the goals of bilingualism and
As is often the case, these tensions increased to the point where
CVLCC’s bilingual program was at risk of being dismantled for not
demonstrating acceptable levels of English acquisition as determined by
the state and expected of all schools regardless of program model or students served. It is in these moments that bilingual programs make difficult choices and find themselves adapting and evolving to survive. In this
case example, amidst district and state pressures to “perform” to standardized English assessments, CVLCC faced possible revocation of their
charter and the loss of their bilingual program in favor of English-only
programs. With little time to “show progress,” CVLCC’s adaptation centered on a critical decision to change the language of instruction in two
key content areas, reading and mathematics, from Spanish to English. In
doing so, CVLCC placed concentrated efforts on developing English proficiency in the two areas the state assesses and monitors in their process
of deciding the effectiveness and progress of schools. It is important to
note that, in an effort to maintain its goals of biliteracy and bilingualism,
the school continues to maintain a Spanish language arts program and
an emphasis on writing in Spanish.
The story of the evolution of CVLCC’s bilingual program has an interesting and ironic twist. In 2009, five years after facing a stern warning
from the district superintendent and a possible revocation of their charter, leading to critical changes to their program, CVLCC was heralded by
Beyond English Development 405
a visit from California’s Governor Schwarzenegger who recognized the
school as a model charter program. The occasion was induced by
CVLCC’s performance on the California Standards Test—CVLCC outperformed all other schools in the district in math, with nearly 87% of
students scoring proficient or advanced, and also saw significantly
increased scores in English language arts, with over 67% of students
achieving proficient or advanced (Millican, 2009). In addition, the governor recognized CVLCC for having the highest attendance rate in the district and for their high levels of parental participation. Ironically, to
maintain its mission of bilingualism and to meet the standards of a model
school, CVLCC educators had to adapt their model and diminish some
Spanish instruction. Nonetheless, the principal and teachers at CVLCC
attribute much of this success to the extremely high and consistent
expectations for teachers to use and teach high levels of academic
Spanish, along with a strong focus on writing in Spanish. CVLCC’s history highlights the tensions faced by many bilingual programs, and their
responses to these tensions illustrate the ways bilingual programs evolve
to survive. Each of the schools described above share the story of negotiating priorities of bilingualism with pressures of accountability in English
and finding a space somewhere in between for ELL student success.
In this chapter, we discussed the shifts in the field of second language
acquisition research and the evolution of bilingual education in the
twenty-first century. While extensive reviews of the research concerning
English language learners have indicated the educational benefits of
using bilingual instructional practices (i.e., Genesee et al., 2006), they
have also revealed sociopolitical constraints that make instruction in
LOTEs challenging. In part, to survive in a sociopolitical climate that is
often anti-immigrant, bilingual education has had to broaden its discourse to include language-majority students as language learners. While
bilingual education must continue to provide an equitable education for
language-minority students, schools that continue to thrive now emphasize enrichment education for all students.
As the field and the situation in schools change, teacher education programs must also adapt to prepare teachers who are aware of ELL needs
and responsive to the workings and reworkings of bilingual schools situated in a contentious sociopolitical climate. An important part of the professional curriculum for future bilingual teachers is theoretical
grounding in language learning. Bilingual teacher candidates need to
understand language learning as a social process and consider the con-
406 National Society for the Study of Education
textual factors that contribute to second language development, literacy,
and academic success. In addition to the theoretical background of language learning, future bilingual teachers should know how to organize
sheltered instruction for their students in both languages, making
allowances for language learners. Given the goals of developing bilingualism and biliteracy for all students, future teachers will need to know
how to coordinate and overlap content, language, and cross-cultural
objectives. Having a pragmatic framework, such as the TWIOP, will be
key for future immersion teachers as they move into their first year of
Because interaction and small-group tasks are an integral part of language learning, it is important that teacher education programs provide
theoretical knowledge about and experiential work with small-group
instruction. When implementing the theory of cooperative learning, new
bilingual teachers must be prepared for inequities that will emerge in
their classrooms because of the academic, socioeconomic, and cultural
diversity of their students. Teachers must be aware of the most common
problems found in cooperative learning and must be equipped with tools
to deal with equalizing participation and infusing challenging content
into small-group tasks. Although dual language programs are closing the
achievement gap between ELLs and native speakers of English, helping
future teachers continue to work toward closing that gap will be key. This
can be accomplished by teachers designing rigorous curricular tasks, having the highest academic expectations of their students, and scaffolding
and supporting students linguistically, academically, and with cross-cultural awareness.
Lastly, as described in this chapter, bilingual education exists within a
larger sociopolitical context in which pedagogical and programmatic
decisions are decided. Perhaps even more important than pedagogical
knowledge is a deep understanding of the ideologies that influence both
pedagogy and programs so that teachers may be empowered to act as critical decision makers, knowledgeable about their roles within a continuously evolving education system and the impact their daily decisions have
on the linguistic, academic, and cultural development of the immigrant
and ELL populations they serve.
1. The authors found no reliable data at the national level on specific educational programs for ELLs. While some states, such as California, have excellent reporting systems,
most do not. Based on state reporting, the National Clearinghouse for English Language
Acquisition ( has published some data on bilingual vs. Englishonly enrollments. However, this data is unreliable because many states do not distinguish
Beyond English Development 407
between native-language instruction and native-language “support,” which may include
occasional translation help from paraprofessionals.
2. Many schools use the term two-way immersion (TWI) or two-way bilingual immersion and dual immersion interchangeably; however, TWI is a particular type of dual language program that serves a balance of native English speakers and native LOTE speakers.
Even schools that do not have a balanced population often claim to be adopting a TWI program, since these programs have been looked upon favorably in recent years, in contrast to
similar programs named bilingual programs. For more information on the definition of
TWI, see CAL’s TWI directory website ( and the dual language
consortium website (
3. TWI refers to a particular type of dual language program that serves a balance of
native English speakers and native LOTE speakers, although this balance is not always possible because of school demographics. Because many schools themselves use the term dual
language, throughout the remainder of this chapter, we use the broader term, dual language (which includes TWI programs).
4. Fitts (2006) problematizes the separation of languages in dual language programs,
which does not reflect bilingual language practices common outside the classroom where
bilinguals often draw upon two or more languages within the same space. Teachers in dual
language programs are often expected to be monolingual models, using only the target language, rather than bilingual models that know when to use both languages. This is discussed further below.
5. The information provided in this case study section is based on first hand research
conducted by the authors.
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ELSA BILLINGS is an assistant professor in the Department of Policy
Studies in the Language and Cross-cultural Education Department at San
Diego State University. She is a former bilingual classroom teacher and is
the co-creator of an online certification program for teachers of English
learners at Stanford University. She has a range of publications concerned with issues that impact the academic opportunities and success of
English learners (ELs), with particular interests in the experiences of ELs
and the professional development, values and experiences of the teachers who teach them. Her publications have appeared in journals and
books such as the Journal of Latinos in Education, the Bilingual Research
Journal, the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, and the Handbook of
Research on Multicultural Education.
MELINDA MARTIN-BELTRAN is an assistant professor specializing in
Second Language Education in the College of Education at the
University of Maryland, College Park. She has worked as a bilingual and
ESOL teacher in the United States and Latin America. She has published
articles in journals such as English Teaching: Practice and Critique and The
Modern Language Journal. Her research interests include classroom interaction and discourse, educational equity for language minority students,
sociocultural perspectives on language learning, and preparing teachers
for culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms.
Beyond English Development 413
ANITA HERNANDEZ is an associate professor and the Don and Sarrah
Kidd Endowed Chair for Literacy, specializing in literacy/biliteracy in the
College of Education at New Mexico State University. She has also taught
for the California State University (CSU) International Program in
Querétero, México. She is a former bilingual classroom teacher and
coordinator of a college migrant education program. She has coauthored two books for classroom teachers titled: Theme Sets for Secondary
Students: How to Scaffold Core Literature and Interactive Notebooks and English
Language Learners: How to Scaffold Content for Academic Success. She has published articles in such journals as Bilingual Research Journal and Reading
Teacher. Her research interests include the literacy development of
English learners, professional development of teachers of English learners, and the education of pre-service teachers.

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