Archive for the ‘Bilingual Ed 101’ Category

Who is Qualified to Teach in a Bilingual Program?

April 17, 2010 2 comments

One of the followers on our facebook page, Angelica, recently asked the following question:

What is the difference between teaching in dual language immersion and regular bilingual ed? Honestly, are all bilingual educators who hold a bilingual credential qualified to teach in Dual language education? Just wondering.

Dear Angelica,

Thank you for asking such an important and complex question. There are a variety of bilingual program models that can be categorized under the umbrella of bilingual education. Such program models can be Dual Immersion, early-exit transitional bilingual, late-exit transitional bilingual, immersion education (as in the Canadian immersion type of program where students are taught two languages such as French and English), and many other instructional models.

I am assuming that when you say “regular bilingual ed”, you are referring to the typical early-exit transitional bilingual education program where students are provided instruction in Spanish, or another minority language, for a few years and are then subsequently transitioned into instruction that takes place all in English. The main aim of transitional bilingual education programs is proficiency and monolingualism in English, and students are only provided enough instruction in their primary language until they are proficient enough to receive instruction exclusively in English.

Dual Immersion, or dual language immersion, is different than the transitional bilingual education program. The main goals of Dual Immersion programs are bilingualism, academic proficiency in both languages, and cross-cultural competence. An additional difference is also that native English-speakers are also present in the Dual language immersion classroom in order to achieve bilingualism, biliteracy and cross-cultural competence.  In Dual Immersion programs, students continue to maintain and preserve their primary language as they learn a second language throughout elementary school and hopefully into middle school and high school.

In both types of bilingual education programs, teachers should be highly proficient in English and Spanish, or other languages that are taught in the particular program. They also should be highly skilled in second language acquisition as well as instructional strategies that are designed to promote second language acquisition. In addition, teachers in both programs should have a firm understanding of their particular bilingual education program model design as well as a sound theoretical understanding of literacy and biliteracy development.

Due to the presence of native English-speaking children in the program, it’s imperative that Dual Immersion teachers are also highly skilled in scaffolding instruction in Spanish, or another minority language, depending on the program. Dual Immersion teachers also require an advanced level of cultural competence and must be highly proficient in working with parents and students of various racial, ethnic, cultural and linguistic groups.

The possession of a bilingual teaching authorization (e.g., a BCLAD credential in California) does NOT necessarily mean that a teacher is qualified to teach in either a transitional bilingual education or a Dual Immersion program. A bilingual teaching authorization does not  signify that teachers are prepared for the knowledge and skill that is required of bilingual educators regarding biliteracy development, second language acquisition, and cross-cultural competence–much in the same way that an ESL or CLAD teaching authorization does not signify that a teacher is highly competent in teaching English Language Development in an English classroom.

Having taught in a transitional bilingual education program does NOT qualify most teachers to teach in a Dual Immersion setting, either. Transitional bilingual education teachers are often exposed to only one linguistic group, such as having all native Spanish-speakers, and are typically not accustomed to working with parents of various cultural and linguistic groups. Transitional bilingual education teachers also often take for granted that their students understand everything that is said when teaching in Spanish, and are unaccustomed to having second language learners in the classroom during Spanish instruction.

It is my philosophy that teachers in both transitional bilingual education programs and Dual Immersion settings should have the same levels of expertise regarding second language acquisition and biliteracy development, with Dual Immersion educators having a more nuanced ability of cross-cultural competence. Unfortunately, this is not the case because many transitional bilingual education programs are often viewed politically as remedial programs and therefore teachers are not provided the staff development and resources needed that is the same caliber of many Dual Immersion programs. Similarly, many Dual Immersion educators also unfortunately lack the cross-cultural awareness and understanding that is required to work with diverse students and parents.

For additional information on the critical components of quality bilingual education programs, you might find the following posts to be helpful:

Critical Components of Effective Bilingual Programs

A Parent’s Guide to the Critical Components of Effective Bilingual Programs

I hope this answered your question! If not, please feel free to ask additional questions!!

Take care,


Categories: Bilingual Ed 101

Bilingual Education 101: Past Articles

We’ll be starting a weekly series called Bilingual Education 101 that will provide information about various forms of bilingual education and frequently asked questions associated with bilingual ed. To kick off this series, we dug into our archives for some informational posts that we have already created about bilingual education. If you haven’t read these posts already, check them out:

Language Programs in California for English Learners: A brief overview of the various programs: English language Mainstream, structured English immersion (SEI), transitional bilingual education, developmental maintenance bilingual education, and Dual Immersion.

Is Bilingual Education Against the Law in California?: Outlines California education code and the stipulations for parental exception waivers that are to be instituted after Proposition 227 for parents who would like their children to participate in a bilingual program.

Initial Identification and Assessment of Bilingual Learners: Discusses the process that students are identified as bilingual learners in the public school system, and provides an overview of the first and second language assessments that students are provided.

Can Schools Force a Child to Stay in a Bilingual Program?: Discusses the misconception that students are arbitrarily placed in bilingual programs or are not allowed to exit from bilingual programs.

How Do You Get a BCLAD Credential?: Discusses the options for getting a bilingual teaching credential in the state of California.

Critical Components of Effective Bilingual Programs: Provides an overview of five essential characteristics of effective bilingual education programs.

A Parent’s Guide to the Critical Components of Effective Bilingual Programs: Takes a look at the five essential characteristics outlined in the “Critical Components of Effective Bilingual Programs” through the lens of parents.

Stay tuned for additional articles next week!!

Categories: Bilingual Ed 101