Book Review: Why Dual Language Schooling by Dr. Wayne P. Thomas and Dr. Virginia P. Collier
By: Kerri Valencia, M.Ed.
Dual Language Teacher, Montgomery County Public Schools, MD.
Faculty Instructor, Multilingual Studies & Teacher Preparation Program, Moreland University
Last year on my way to the La Cosecha Dual Language conference I found myself on the same flight with two Dual Language superstar researchers, Dr. Wayne Thomas and Dr. Virginia Collier. Additionally, I had the opportunity to interview them at the conference for duallanguageschools.org. Drs. Thomas and Collier have spent almost 40 years researching the benefits of dual language programs in the United States. Their book, Why Dual Language Schooling, is a culmination of their tireless research and offers a strong case for dual language programming. The book proves, with hard evidence, how teaching the curriculum through two languages improves the academic achievement of all students. It levels the playing field for English-language learners and target language learners by creating highly collaborative and inclusive classrooms where students learn all content in two languages and build important 21st Century Skills such as collaboration, problem-solving and critical thinking, among others.
Families and stakeholders who make policy decisions on educational programming will find answers to hot button topics in education, including closing the so-called “achievement gap”. Why Dual Language Schooling debunks the myth about the achievement gap through several longitudinal studies that show how children in historically low scoring student groups perform at higher levels in dual language schools than in monolingual programs. This is due to the highly inclusive and additive versus subtractive pedagogy of dual language schooling. The target language holds equal value to English and includes deep equity work to elevate the culture and identity of all students. The book underscores how the three pillars of dual language: bilingualism and biliteracy, grade level academic achievement and socio-cultural competence lead to increased academic and social outcomes for all students.
Also examined is the research on language acquisition and the cognitive benefits of learning in two languages starting at a young age. The book highlights the positive impact that dual language programming has on students from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds and shows that these students perform at significantly higher levels than their monolingual program counterparts largely due to innovative teaching practices that focus on highly inclusive, differentiated, and scaffolded instruction in two languages rather than the subtractive and exclusionary practices of pull-out interventions for students with diverse needs and English-language learners. This book is for anyone who is looking at the current challenges in education and wondering where to start in terms of reform and building more positive and successful outcomes for students. The answer lies in dual language schooling.