Dual Language SchoolsDoes Your Dual Language Program Include These Building Blocks of Effective Instruction?

Author Photo: Margarita Calderón

By: Margarita Calderón

Professor Emerita/Senior Research Scientist
Photo for: Does Your Dual Language Program Include These Building Blocks of Effective Instruction?

We are living in an interesting time, filled with many possibilities. More and more families from different cultures want their children to grow up bilingual or multilingual and multicultural. The global interaction between youth through the Internet confirms the need to develop global skills to achieve a successful future. Therefore, it becomes a pivotal goal to include as much evidence-based research and practices into our Dual Language instruction.

These are some brief tips in form of a checklist that can be used to gauge what is in place and where our program needs some tweaking or totally revisiting. Share this with colleagues for in-depth discussions on each topic.

Are these evidence-based components integrated into every DL lesson?

For Lesson Preparation, Teachers Ensure that in Both Languages They:

1. Analyze the standards, objectives, and desired outcomes. Determine how to ensure that students understand how and when these will be applied and accomplished in both.
2. Analyze the text for complexity, richness of concepts, language, and reading skill practice.
3. Determine where background building might be necessary and how it will be succinctly, but meaningfully, presented.
4. Select Tier 1, 2, and 3 words and phrases to preteach for each subject.
5. Select text features, text structures, and sentence samples to highlight during a think aloud.
6. Select critical thinking prompts, activities, and challenges.
7. Choose or design student self-assessment for teamwork and social emotional skills.

For Instructional Delivery in Each Language:

The teacher uses these strategies throughout K – 5th lessons, the science experiments, the Project-Based Learning, investigations, or in 6th – 12th grades all subjects including creative products in engineering or economics. The ESL/ELD and core teachers and/or DL team teachers take turns teaching and facilitating the 12 components as they coteach.

Are there 12 Components of Effective Inclusive Teaching for All Students?

1. Daily preteach at least 5 words/phrases for 10 minutes before students read the text in order to have enough scaffolding to understand it.
2. Clarify and connect language and content objectives to assessments.
3. Model a reading comprehension strategy using a couple of complex sentences from the text; inform students to use that strategy as they read the rest of the text.
4. Have students conduct Partner Reading. By alternating sentences and summarizing after each paragraph, ELs are to use the pretaught words/phrases and more academic language from the text. As they struggle to verbally summarize each paragraph with a partner, they jointly construct meaning to what they read.
5. As new words and phrases pop up during reading, incorporate them. Through summarizing, or class discussions, even more vocabulary can be identified for further teaching as the teacher walks around monitoring and documenting performance.
6. Use consolidation activities to integrate language, literacy, critical thinking, social skills and content. For example, instead of answering book questions after reading, show students how to write Bloom’s Taxonomy style questions. In teams of four, students write one or two questions from the text they just read. Emphasize the need for additional reading, communication, self-monitoring, and higher order thinking. Remind students to go back into the text one more time for closer reading and learn more information to strengthen their questions before they share them with other teams.
7. Use those team questions in a Numbered Heads Together or other cooperative learning activity to test the students’ knowledge. Allow students to go back into the text to make sure their team answers are going to be correct. Give students self-assessment and team assessment checklists.
8. Inform students that they now have sufficient information stored in their heads and can draft a lengthy composition in teams of four.
9. When that first draft is completed, use Ratiocination to edit grammar or make the language more academic by finding and fixing common mistakes (e.g., punctuation, capitalization), replacing repetitions of Tier 1 words (e.g., because, but, like, porque, entonces, y) with Tier 2 connectors and transition words (e.g., hence, nevertheless, subsequently, compared to, sin embargo, a consecuencia, desafortunadamente, adicionalmente), and add more subject-specific technical (Tier 3) words.
10. Use the strategy called Cut-n-Grow to add more facts, evidence, citations, or other elaborations; reduce some of those long-winded sentences.
11. Model how to write a powerful conclusion, thesis statement, and attention-grabbing titles. Select a volunteer to read an example to the class. Post the cut-up version to show their process.
12. Use performance assessments for the 12 main components to gauge students’ learning progressions with observation protocols or notes, student self-evaluation checklists or narratives (See more examples in Calderón, Espino & Slakk, 2019; Calderón & Espino, 2010, 2019).

Building Success for Everyone in the School

Success begins with a professional development model designed to prepare all teachers and administrators in a school to address not just DL or ELs but also special education students, striving readers, and the other students in each classroom.

Does the Whole School’s Professional Development (PD) Espouse These Premises?

1. Everyone in the school participates in the initial 3 days of PD on integrating language, literacy and content.
2. Every administrator in the school and key administrators in the district participate in two additional days of PD on support systems for teachers.
3. Follow-up support entails expert coaching for every participating teacher to receive feedback on their implementation and determine next steps; peer coaching for more learning; Teachers Learning Communities for sharing successes, student progress, and problem solving; and preparation of a select cadre of teachers to support new teachers and conduct refreshers throughout the year.
4. A three-year commitment to yield the best results, giving everyone time to adjust new learnings into the most effective implementation.

Are These the Goals of the Professional Development Institutes and Follow-up Coaching/TLCs?

The focus of English or the Spanish delivery of professional development is to prepare all language and core content teachers and instructional coaches in 2nd to 12th grades to be able to:

● Preteach 5 key words/phrases that will help students enter the text with some familiarity
● Know how to select and teach vocabulary before, during and after reading.
● Know a variety of strategies for teaching reading comprehension integrated into their content area lessons.
● Know research-based strategies for learning/teaching text-based formal writing.
● Use specific cooperative learning strategies for language, literacy and subject mastery that enable ample interaction opportunities and development of social emotional skills.
● Integrate the 12 proven components into existing mandated lessons, programs, objectives, standards, and curriculum.

Are All Administrators Committed to the Following?

● Demonstrating deep knowledge about language, literacy and content by attending all professional development sessions on ELs with their teachers.
● Establishing support structures for teachers to sustain quality instruction for all students in all core content classrooms (e.g., ESL-core content teachers’ planning schedules, interdisciplinary Teachers Learning Communities, financial resources, saying ‘no’ to competing initiatives, coaching as a natural part of learning).
● Continuously facilitating student data discussions and linking data results to next steps for everyone.
● Cultivating positive relationships among teachers, students, and all school staff.
● Cultivating positive relationships between school personnel and Newcomer/ELs’ parents.
● Ensuring this integrated approach is implemented with fidelity but not rigidity, respecting teachers’ talents and creativity.

The School District?

● Participates in PD and participates in coaching teachers shadowing experts and debriefing observations.
● Provides necessary funding for implementing these evidence-based practices as a whole school endeavor.
● Safeguards the efforts for a long-term implementation until quality is attained by protecting schools from other trends.
● Supports the school(s) with specialist coaching, supplies, implementation checks, and positive messaging.

The Evidence Base for this Model

These components and strategies stem from The Bilingual Cooperative Learning and Composition (BCIRC) program which was developed and tested in a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences at Johns Hopkins University. We tested existing theories and practices and put together a model that integrated vocabulary, reading and writing and an effective professional development program to ensure transfer from training. We then conducted empirical testing in experimental and control schools of both the English version (BCIRC) and the Spanish version Acelerando la comprensión en español: Lectura, escritura y razonamiento académico (ACE-LERA) models in dual language schools. This evidence-based DL model is the only DL model in the What Works Clearinghouse. The central focus and goals were to develop advanced literacy for ELs and all students in their classrooms in two languages. Students in BCIRC outperformed the students in the districts’ other language programs. BCIRC became the foundation for the secondary model called Expediting Comprehension for English Language Learners (ExC-ELL). These are the key components of all these models that created success for students, teachers, and the schools that became exemplary.

With a new National Professional Development grant from the U.S.D.O.E.’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), we continue to implement and study these programs in secondary schools. Soon we will be able to share more effective evidence-based practices.

Dr. Margarita Calderón is Professor Emerita, Johns Hopkins University and CEO of Margarita Calderón & Associates, Inc. She conducts professional development, presents at major conferences, keeps doing research and adding to her 100 + publications.


Newcomers learning U. S. history during English time.

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