Develop Teacher and Student Recruitment Programs
Develop a teacher recruitment program to attract the best bilingual and biliterate teachers for the dual language (DL) program. Determine district policies and priorities for student enrollment in the DL program. Capture the mission and vision of the dual language DL program and other aspects of the program in promotional materials to share with the community and families to recruit students.
Teacher recruitment for a DL program is a critical component in launching and sustaining a DL program. Seeking out teachers who are highly biliterate (high levels of listening, speaking, reading, and writing) in the partner language and English should be the goal and several important aspects to the recruitment campaign, including having a differentiated application and interview protocol are presented.
Prior to starting the student recruitment campaign, it will be important to have the opportunity to examine current district enrollment policies and priorities to determine if any might need to be revised in the event that there is great demand for the DL program from students residing within the district and from students from surrounding districts.
The student recruitment program should include the DL program’s mission and vision statement along with other critical points of information to share with families and the community as you seek to recruit students for the upcoming DL program. Promotional
materials and face-to-face or virtual meetings with families and in the community will foster greater awareness of and interest in enrolling children in the DL program.
Dual Language Teacher Recruitment
Collaborating with Human Resources for your DL teacher recruitment program will allow you to draw from the pool of qualified and interested teachers in the district with the appropriate credential/authorization/endorsement to teach in the partner language to start your DL program.
Identifying District Teachers to Teach in the DL Program
Begin by surveying the district database for teachers with credentials/authorizations/endorsements that would allow them to teach in the partner language. Connect with these teachers and share with them about the plans for the DL program (e.g., DL program type, program model, and implementation model; research on academic and linguistic outcomes, etc.) to determine their interest in teaching in the DL program at the designated school site(s). Only after first offering the opportunity to teach in the DL program to district teachers should the district open the opportunity to teachers from outside the district.
Offering professional development (e.g., academic language development in the partner language, best instructional practices for DL programs, teaching for cross-linguistic transfer, translanguaging in the DL classroom, etc.) to new DL teachers may help them feel better prepared to teach in the program.
It is highly recommended that districts do not involuntarily transfer district teachers to a DL teaching position, as teacher support of the DL program is critical.
DL Teacher Job Description
The job description for a teacher in the DL program may need to be written (or revised if there was a previous job description for a bilingual education program) to reflect the appropriate credentials or authorizations to teach in the partner language.
The DL teacher job description should include as a “required” (not “desired”) qualification that the teacher possess high academic language and native-like proficiency and literacy (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) in both the partner language and English.
The interview process for a DL teacher applicant may also need to be reconsidered. Here are some recommendations to support the district in hiring the most highly qualified DL teachers:
The interview questions may need to be revised to reflect the context of a DL program setting.
A portion of the interview should be conducted in the partner language.
The interview panel should include at least one person that is highly bilingual and biliterate. Some districts have a community member who is a native speaker of the partner language group participate in the interview.
The applicant’s responses to the questions in the partner language should be considered on two levels: for content and for language proficiency.
The person on the interview panel who is bilingual/biliterate can provide feedback on this to the panel after the applicant has left the room at the conclusion of the interview.
The applicant’s oral and written proficiency in the partner language and English should be assessed during the interview process and be included in the evaluation of the applicant’s overall qualifications for the position.
Often, the assessment of the applicant’s written proficiency in both languages is done prior to or at the conclusion of the interview.
The written assessment in the partner language should not be a translation of a school document. This is not the work that a DL teacher will be engaging in. Instead, it is recommended that you have the applicant read a short text (at least at the high school level) in the partner language then answer some open-ended, higher-order questions regarding what was read. This allows an opportunity to see the applicant’s level of academic language and their writing proficiency.
Determine the number of current district teachers who are bilingual/biliterate in the partner language but who do not yet have a valid credential/authorization/endorsement to teach in the partner language. Consider offering incentives to these teachers to attain the necessary credential/authorization/endorsement.
Share the plans for the DL program with these teachers, including the differentiated job description, through an information meeting to determine their interest in teaching in the DL program. Keep them updated as the planning for the DL program moves forward.
If there are not sufficient teachers to staff the DL program, then reach out to teachers outside the district with the differentiated job description to fill any remaining positions. Consider attending job fairs and conferences where biliterate teachers may be attending.
Connect with universities offering a bilingual teacher credential/authorization program. In California, it is the Bilingual Authorization program. In Texas, it is the Bilingual Education Supplemental. For other states, contact your state teacher credentialing authority.
Let the universities know that you will have a DL program starting in the fall. Ask that they share your district’s DL job description with those who will complete the bilingual teacher credential/authorization/endorsement program prior to fall. Let them know that in the future you will be able to sponsor student teachers from their program, which will become another source for new teachers as your DL program grows.
Dual Language Program Enrollment Policies
Determine what the current district policy and procedures are for a specialized program if there is a greater demand for the program than openings available.
If there are no such policies or procedures, consider creating DL program enrollment priorities and student selection policy prior to the need for their use arising. Although the first few years of your DL program may be marked by challenges in recruiting enough students, as the program grows and becomes better known in the community, the demand for the program will grow, as well.
Dual Language Program Enrollment Requests
A form should be created to capture the information regarding a student whose family is interested in enrolling in the DL program. Along with name, age, and contact information, the form should also include what language group to which the student belongs (native speaker of the partner language, native speaker of English, bilingual speaker of both the partner language and English, etc.). The form should also contain a place to date and time stamp its receipt by the district if there are more requests received than seats available in the DL program.
Language Group Interest Lists
For programs that will include at least two language groups (e.g., two-way dual language immersion), a separate interest list for each language group will need to be kept. Based on the information on a family’s request form to enroll their child in the DL program, the child can be placed on the corresponding language interest list.
Once the deadline passes for families to submit a request to have their children in the DL program, it will be important to verify that the students are on the correct language group interest list. Some districts interview the students in the partner language and English to see their level of comfort and proficiency in the language. Others use more formal assessments to get a baseline measure of the students’ language abilities in each language (these assessments cannot be used to exclude students from acceptance into the DL program, only to verify if they are on the correct language group interest list).
Next, the students on each language group interest list will need to be reviewed to see if they qualify for any of the enrollment priorities, below. If they do, then they would move to the top of the list for acceptance into the DL program.
Dual Language Program Enrollment Priorities
Consider whether any of the following students might have enrollment priority for the DL program if there are more students on a language group interest list than there are seats in the DL program for that language group:
Students living in the DL school’s attendance area
Siblings of students in the DL program
Board members’ children
Children of DL program staff (certificated, classified, site administration)
Student Selection Policy
Although there may not be a need for this policy early on in the DL program, it is best to have the process that will be used to select students for acceptance into the DL program in the event that there is a greater demand for the program than seats available for a particular language group (see below for a reminder of class composition percentages in DL programs) determined prior to encountering this situation.
Many districts are moving to a lottery for students on a language group interest list in the event that there is a greater demand for the program than seats available for that particular language group to avoid litigation over the manner (date, availability) the enrollment information for the DL program was disseminated.
Other districts time- and date-stamp the DL program enrollment request forms, and seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. If this is the approach that your district will take, we advise you to ensure that the announcement regarding the opening of the window within which the district will accept DL program enrollment requests is disseminated to the entire community in a timely manner.
Student Selection Process
Once the DL program enrollment requests have been received and the submission window has closed, then the district can work with the DL site administrators to determine the number of seats available at each DL site for each language group, based on the DL program type selected (e.g., two-way or one-way immersion) and the number of DL classrooms at each site.
To review, here are the percentages of students from each language group for a Two-Way or a One-Way DL immersion program:
Once the number of seats is determined, then the language group interest lists can be reviewed. If the number of students on the language group interest list does not exceed the number of seats available for students from that language group, then all the students on that language interest list can be accepted into the DL program. If there was an excess number of students on any language group interest list, then defer to the student selection policy that was established by the DL Leadership Team to select the students to accept into the DL program.
Notification of Acceptance into the Dual Language Program
Once the decision has been made regarding which students will be accepted into the DL program, the families need to be notified in writing. If there were students who were not accepted into the program because of space limitations, their families will also need to be notified in writing.
The next step is conducting family orientation meetings prior to the start of the school year to provide additional information about the DL program. Some programs publish a DL Family Handbook that captures all the information about the DL program that they distribute at these meetings. The family orientation meetings are also useful in helping the families from each language group meet each other so that they can begin to develop a support network for the students in the DL program, including supporting each other with homework in the language that their student is learning (e.g., a native English-speaking family helping the family of an English Learner with English homework, and that family reciprocating by helping the other family’s partner language learner with homework in the partner language, etc.).
At the family orientation meeting, the parents/guardians of each student are asked to sign a family commitment letter, securing their agreement to keep their child in the DL program through the end of elementary school or high school, depending on how long the district is committed to supporting the DL program. It is at the secondary level that the greatest benefits from a DL program are seen in the research results, so we definitely want to encourage districts to consider supporting the DL program all the way through to high school graduation and students receiving the Seal of Biliteracy (in the states that have adopted the Seal).
Dual Language Program Recruitment
The purpose of the informational materials will be two-fold: to garner community support as well as for program recruitment. All informational materials should be available in English and the target language. There are many ways to disseminate program information:
Program Vision and Mission Statements
With the DL Leadership Team, create mission and vision statements for the DL program, drawing upon the DL research and connecting to the district’s vision and mission statements. This will communicate the expected benefits and outcomes for all students in the DL program to the families and community.
DL Program Brochure
A colorful, informative brochure is a great way to spread the word about the program. It should be published in English and in the partner language and include the DL program mission and vision statements, along with the partner language for the program, as well as the district and site commitment to parents and students, the school site(s) where the DL program will be located, and enrollment information and deadlines.
Other areas to consider including in the brochure include benefits to all students in the program (short- and long-term) and the commitment needed from families and students.
Distribution of the DL Program Brochure
There are several ways to distribute the DL program brochure. Printed copies should be made available at the district office and the DL school site(s) as well as at community locations that families and children may frequent. Electronic copies should be uploaded to the district and DL school websites.
Promote your new DL program by registering it for free on the Dual Language Schools website (duallanguageschools.org) to make it easy for families in your community to find your DL program.
Distribute printed posters to businesses and organizations in the community, along with printed copies of the DL program brochure, announcing the DL program and including information on date/time/location for upcoming DL program information meetings (see below).
Student Recruitment Information Meetings
Now that you have the promotional materials prepared and posted online for your DL program, schedule information meetings for families who may be interested in enrolling their children in the DL program.
Vary the time and locations of the meetings, alternating both the time and location as well as the presentation language, and offer interpretation in the other language. For instance, if you hold a morning meeting and conduct it in English, provide interpretation in the partner language. The next morning meeting, present in the partner language and offer interpretation
in English. This allows the families who speak the partner language to feel that their language is fully valued. Also offer afternoon information meetings, as well as some in the evening to accommodate families that work. When holding information meetings in the evening, be sure that public transportation will still be running after the meeting concludes, as some families may be dependent on it to return home.
You may want to consider inviting families and their children from established, successful DL programs in other districts to share with families attending the information meetings. Their presence and willingness to answer the families’ questions can be powerful in assuring the families about their choice to enroll their child in the DL program.
Suggested agenda items for the DL program family information meetings include:
Share DL program information, including the mission and vision statements, DL program type, program model, and implementation model, and language allocation plan
Highlight the academic and linguistic benefits for all students in the DL program and share DL research results
Also include DL program enrollment information, such as deadlines to submit DL program application, the board-approved enrollment priorities, and inter-district and intra-district policies