Dual Language SchoolsThe C6 Biliteracy Framework: Are Your Students Communicating in Authentic Fashion?

06/2019
Author Photo: Dr. José L. Medina

By: Dr. José L. Medina

Founder and Chief Educational Advocate at Dr. José Medina: Educational Solutions

As a former dual language principal, as I visit hundreds of dual language classrooms around the country and internationally, I see how the profession never fails. I will walk into a classroom and the students will be engaged in a variety of educational tasks. Suddenly and quickly, the teacher will asks the students to turn to a partner and share something about the learning.

The students try to meet the teacher’s request, but more often than not, they stumble and find themselves at a loss for words or simply share about things in a superficial manner. This is the prevalent fake turn and talk! But, what if things could be different? What if we implemented systems in place that would ensure that students owned their academic conversations in the dual language classroom?

The Communicate component of the C6 Biliteracy Framework specifically addresses this need in the dual language classroom.

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In the articles shared in the last couple of months, via Dual Language Schools, we have now taken a look into the first 3 components of the C6 Biliteracy Framework, including Create, Connect, and Collaborate.

In this article, we will move on to the fourth C – Communicate.

  • Communicate and model oral and written language, while structuring authentic student-to-student interaction that reflects each of the program languages.
    • 4+1 language domains
    • Scripting
    • Authentic biliteracy instruction and environmental print support

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Whether you serve in an elementary or secondary classroom, ask yourself:

  • Are my students able to explain the difference between a content and language learning target?
  • Can they explain what 4+1 language domain they are specifically focusing on?
  • Have I planned for specific linguistic structures in oral and written fashion?
  • Have I provided sufficient linguistic support to help students navigate the academic conversations?
  • Am I planning and facilitating instruciton that is authentic to each of the two program languages, as part of dual language programming in a U.S. dual language context?
  • Does the environmental print represent each of the two program languages autentically?

Please know that there are emergent bilingual students in dual language programs, that when asked, are able to explain that a content objective is what we are learning and that a language objective is how we will be able to access the content objective via the 4+1 language domains (listening, speaking, reading, writing, and metalinguistic awareness).

Moreover, students are able to tell you specifically, what one or two language domains are the focus of the lesson at every point during the instructional day. This does not happen by chance. Rather, students are taught that everything we learn, any content is internalized by practicing the language of the content, via the 4+1 language domains. By establishing a visual system of language domain icons, and giving students ownership of that initial entry into the language objective, authentic student-to-student interaction that is structured is more readily achieved.

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With the support of scripting, language frames and starters, that are specifically designed to give students the appropriate scaffolding for success, authentic interaction becomes the norm. And thus, when we ask students to sequence, compare & contrast, defend, or summarize, we are ready via scripting, to give students ownership of their learning via the 4+1.

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As part of the Communicate component, we also address the need for authentic biliteracy instruction. For too long, as dual language educators, we have been asked to learn pedagogical strategies that were specifically designed for learning in a monolingual setting. Therefore, the communication in our classrooms, to include literacy instruction and environmental print support, were aligned to English-only instructional practices. I often refer to this as teaching “Spanish à la English,” although it could be any partner language that becomes oppressed by the privilege carried by English instruction.

This means that in dual language classrooms, we must ensure that the anchor charts that are co-created with and utilized by students, reflect cross-linguistic work (as evidenced in the Connect article), authentic English support, and practices that are aligned to Spanish instruction, as one partner language example. This includes the understanding that some practices that are used as part of English literacy instruction, including, but not limited to word walls, guiding reading, onset rime, and sight words – do not exist in Spanish instruction. Therefore, if used, these practices must be modified to align with authentic ways to support emergent bilingual students in the dual language classroom.

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Lesson planning through the C6 Biliteracy Framework cycle, reminds us that authentic student-to-student interaction must be at the core of all that we do. Only when we give students ownership of the content and language integration, along with the linguistic supports that align with each of the two program languages, can we begin to fully embrace authentic biliteracy instruction!