Dual Language SchoolsSetting the Foundation: Devising Your Language Allocation Plan

Author Photo: Dr. Barbara Kennedy

By: Dr. Barbara Kennedy

GlobaLingo Education Consulting, LLC

This piece represents Part Two in a series on effective planning practices for initial dual language program implementation.

Photo for: Setting the Foundation: Devising Your Language Allocation Plan

So, you have decided to make the shift to dual language (DL) education at your school or district. Congratulations! In Part One of this series, we discussed the importance of tailoring your DL program model design to the specific strengths and needs of your local community. The first step in doing so is the development of your program’s DL language allocation plan (LAP).

The LAP is a written document that articulates which content is taught in each program language, and at each grade level, to ensure that linguistic equity is upheld and that DL program goals are met. A common misstep in initial DL program planning is to take shortcuts when developing the LAP. Avoid this pitfall! It is true that effective DL programs typically begin with implementation at only one or two grade levels (commonly at PK and K, or K and 1) and gradually expand up one grade level at a time in subsequent years. This does not imply, however, that the LAP should be developed on a concomitant year-to-year basis. On the contrary, effective program planning includes the development of your DL LAP from start to finish (e.g., up through grade 5) BEFORE initial program launch. LAP development is foundational to DL program success. It is a first and crucial step in the DL program planning process.

Below is a sample LAP for an 80-20 DL model. The sample is generic and is not recommended for widespread emulation or adoption. Its purpose here is merely to illustrate how an effective LAP incorporates the critical LAP features listed below (and highlighted on the sample LAP by red arrows) while also incorporating and responding to the unique initiatives, requirements, and parameters of your local educational community:

  • Articulation for the full anticipated grade span of the DL program (e.g., PK – 5)
  • Total number of minutes allotted for daily core content instruction (e.g., 330 minutes)
  • Color-coding for language of instruction (e.g., English in green, Spanish in blue)
  • Number of instructional minutes allotted for each content area, and at each grade level (e.g., Math 90 minutes)
  • Language allocation percentages for instruction delivered in the two program languages, at each grade level (e.g., Grade 5, 50-50)
  • Incorporation of instructional minutes allotted for individual school or district initiatives, and designated language of instruction (e.g., Socio-emotional Learning, 15 minutes daily, PK-5, in Spanish)

The sample LAP above demonstrates the recommended level of detail for an effective DL model design. It is responsive to local requirements and needs, including locally prescribed instructional minutes per content area and local initiatives such as integration of social studies into language arts instruction, and inclusion of instruction in SEL and CCMR. Furthermore, the LAP outlines a clearly articulated pathway to biliteracy (ELAR-SLAR biliteracy block at each grade level) and ensures that math and science content instruction is delivered in both program languages over the course of the PK-5 program. Moreover, the calculation of instructional minutes in each program language includes instructional time devoted to providing structured opportunities for students to make cross-language connections (See NOTE in the box at the top of the sample denoting color-coding by language).

Careful calculations provide a quantitative measure to ensure that percentages at each grade level match the intent of the DL program as a whole. Calculations of language allocation are particularly important in the upper grades, where there is often heightened pressure in US schools to teach in English, due to the status of English as the perceived language of education and power, as well as to accountability pressures. Upholding linguistic equity between the two program languages is of utmost importance to the integrity and success of your DL program. A well-designed LAP is a powerful tool to that end!

In this short piece, we have explored a sample LAP and identified important features that will serve to strengthen the integrity of your DL model. It is hoped that you have gained an appreciation for the importance of designing a detailed LAP as a first step in your program planning process. The LAP serves as your roadmap for immediate and long-term implementation and sets the foundation for the development of aligned supports to ensure DL program model success.

If you have questions or would like a free consultation on effective DL program planning, contact me at globalingoed@gmail.com. Stay tuned for the next installment in this series, in which we will continue our walk-through of an effective DL program planning process by exploring strategies for ensuring alignment of key supports for your DL LAP in the areas of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.