Dual Language Leadership Team and Research


Identify and involve key stakeholders who are already supportive of the idea and philosophy of bilingualism and biliteracy in the planning and implementation of your dual language (DL) program. Learn the research foundation for DL programs to ensure that the program that is selected aligns with the research and will have the best biliteracy and academic results. 


When initiating a DL program, there is a great deal of planning required, many decisions to be made, and many integral parts that require stakeholder feedback and support. We recommend that any new DL program provides at least a full planning year to assure a successful launch and implementation, as there are school board and district policies that are affected and will need adequate time to go through the process to revise or write policies in support of the DL program. In this section, we provide and explain the steps needed to establish a Dual Language (DL) Leadership Team, comprised of members from several different stakeholder groups, to collaborate throughout the planning year and beyond to guide the DL program, as well as some of the research on DL programs to share with the members of the DL Leadership Team. Making sure that the DL program selected aligns with the research will be important in the districts’ campaign to garner support from all stakeholder groups and to provide the best DL program for the students in the district. 

Dual Language Leadership Team 

Each of the following stakeholder groups can contribute important to the development and support the implementation of the DL program. Let’s look closer at each group’s relationship to and the support that their membership and participation in the DL Leadership Team may bring to the program. 

School Board Members 

We recommend that you consider having one or two board members on the DL Leadership Team. This will allow the board members to bring back first-hand information about what they learned and questions that arose to their colleagues. Since they will give the final go-ahead to your DL program and will be needed to support the ongoing needs of your program, it is especially important to involve them from the start. In California, the Brown Act prohibits a majority of board members from participation and discussion when it is not a duly noticed public meeting, so one or two board members on the DL Leadership Team should not violate this important legislation and public safeguard.

District Administrators

The planning and implementation of a DL program will affect many district departments, including business, human resources, curriculum and instruction, assessment, special education, and student services. Since the district administration may be unfamiliar with a DL program, it is critical that representatives from each department participate in the initial learning, discussions, and decisions about the program. They also may be able identify possible implications that will better prepare the DL Leadership Team to make thoughtful, well-reasoned decisions as the planning and implementation move forward.

Teachers’ Union

Many of the decisions around the DL program have implications for certificated staff. Having a union representative on the DL Leadership Team would bring an important perspective to the discussion as each aspect of the program is considered.

Principals/Site Administrators

The principal/site administrator from each of the schools where the DL program will be located should also be on the DL Leadership Team, as this program will have an impact on each of their sites. Their leadership in implementing and sustaining the program will be critical to its success as will their role as the primary liaison with the district office and school community. Being a part of the team will build their knowledge of DL and enhance their ability to weigh in on the decisions being made for the program and their ability to serve as the liaison between the district office and the community.

Academic Counselors

Without a doubt, the participation of academic counselors from the middle/junior high school and high school should be prioritized. Their role in placing students in the appropriate courses is vital to student success, and it is no different for the success of the DL program. Developing their knowledge of the program and the courses that are associated with it will be greatly beneficial. In addition, their knowledge of the challenges in building a master schedule can provide a context for the other team members as decisions are made.


It is extremely important to have bilingual and monolingual English teacher representatives on the DL Leadership Team, as they are the ones that will provide the context and connection to the classroom when making decisions about the DL program. Although the monolingual teachers may not be directly involved in the program, we recommend that they be represented on the team so that they will better understand the program and have a voice in decisions that may affect them. The bilingual teachers, along with their partner monolingual English teachers in certain program models, are the ones who will be implementing the program, so providing them opportunity to have a voice in the decisions that will shape the program will be critical to its success.

Special Education

Having Special Education representatives on the DL Leadership Team is also important, as students in the DL program may require their support and services, so understanding the program well and having a voice in the decisions that may affect their support and delivery of services will be beneficial for all. The Special Education representatives’ expertise in assessment may also prove to be valuable when the team is making decisions about the assessments that will be used in the program to monitor student progress, both linguistic and academic.

Instructional Assistants

Bilingual instructional assistants are also important to consider inviting to be on the DL Leadership Team if they will be providing support to students in the DL program. They will also be a critical connection to the classroom context where they provide support for students and teachers. They often have a strong connection to the local community, as well, which may be beneficial as the team moves toward program implementation.

Front Office Personnel

As the front office personnel are often the first contact for family and community members regarding the DL program, it is important to include them on the DL Leadership Team. If there is a district centralized registration center, it is also recommended that there be a representative from the center staff on the team for these same reasons. Their participation will bring an important perspective to the decisions that will be made regarding the program and will allow them to learn first-hand why the program has been designed as it is, which will support them in being able to explain the program to parents

Parent/Family Liaison

The district parent/family liaison is a direct connection to the community, and her/his participation on the DL Leadership Team is a sign of a strategic partnership between the district, site, and the parents of the students in the DL program, bringing the community’s voice and perspective to the conversation around the various decisions that the team will be making. The parent/family liaison should liaise with families in both language communities, or there may be two different parent/family liaisons, one for each language community.


Another critical partner in the implementation of the DL program, the librarian is instrumental in guiding the enhancement of the school and classroom libraries with texts and instructional media in the partner language.

Parents/Guardians of English Learner Students

Parents/guardians who are a part of the English Learner Advisory Committee from each school site where the DL program may be implemented will be important members of the DL Leadership Team. The participation of several key, influential parents/guardians of English Learners will bring the perspective of other families of English Learners to the discussion as the team makes decisions that will affect the English Learners in the program and those who choose not to participate in the program.

Parents/Guardians of English-Only Students

Many English-only families may be interested in having their students enroll in the DL program, and they will be interested in their success. Others may be interested in the impact of the program at the school site and may want assurances that the decisions being made will not have any negative effect on the other programs there. The participation of several key, influential parents/guardians of English-only students will bring the perspective of other families of English-only students as the team makes decisions that will affect the English-only students in the program and those who choose not to participate in the program.

Now that you have your DL Leadership Team identified, the decisions that the team will need to be made are outlined in the subsequent parts of this DL planning guide. Keep reading! 

Current Dual Language Program Research 

Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL)

Perhaps the most important document to guide the development of a DL program is the “Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education,” which is available through the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) in Washington, DC. Synthesizing all the research on DL programs, it provides a reflection rubric that can be used to guide the program development for new programs and strengthen existing DL programs.

Howard, E., Lindholm-Leary, K., Rogers, D., Olague, N., Medina, J., Kennedy, D., Sugarman, J., & Christian, D. (2018). Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics. Available at http://www.cal.org/resource-center/publications-products/guiding-principles-3

CAL also has an online “Two-Way Immersion Toolkit” for districts that are considering implementing a DL program, which is available at: http://www.cal.org/twi/toolkit/index.htm

There are many other resources available on the CAL website for DL programs which can be found at: http://www.cal.org/areas-of-impact/english-learners/bilingual-and-dual-language-education

CAL also houses a national DL directory available. It is a self-reporting website, which means that the directory is not exhaustive: http://www.cal.org/twi/directory/

This Dual Language Schools website also has a national directory available at duallanguageschools.org. You can add your program to this directory free of charge, as well (see directions on the homepage)!

Collier and Thomas

The research of Drs. Virginia Collier and Wayne Thomas on DL education is perhaps the most well-known across the United States (http://www.thomasandcollier.com/). Their longitudinal studies of student achievement in various types of educational programs for English Learners are considered seminal work in the field, and the graph of their findings is often used by districts as the rationale for starting a DL program in their district:

Collier and Thomas have published many articles and books on DL education. Below are just a few of their works:

Collier, V., & Thomas, W. (2014). Creating Dual Language Schools for a Transformed World: Administrators Speak. Albuquerque, NM: Dual Language Education of New Mexico – Fuente Press.

Collier, V., & Thomas, W. (2004). The Astounding Effectiveness of Dual Language Education for All. NABE Journal of Research and Practice, 2(1) 1-20.

Thomas, W., & Collier, V. (2002). A national study of school effectiveness for language minority students’ long-term academic achievement final report: Project 1.1. Diversity, and Excellence.

Thomas, W., & Collier, V. (2012). Dual language education for a transformed world. Dual Language Education of New Mexico/Fuente Press.

Thomas, W. & Collier, V. (2017). Why Dual Language Schooling. Albuquerque, NM: Dual Language Education of New Mexico – Fuente Press.

The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)

The Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota (http://carla.umn.edu) has many resources for DL programs, including research reports. Its Immersion Education and Research Unit is led by Dr. Tara Fortune. Here are two of her works that may be of interest:

Fortune, T. (2012). What the research says about immersion. Chinese language learning in the early grades: A handbook for resources and best practices for Mandarin immersion, 9-13.

Tedick, D. J., Christian, D., & Fortune, T. (Eds.). (2011). Immersion education: Practices, policies, possibilities (Vol. 83). Multilingual Matters


The research of Dr. Kathryn Lindholm-Leary is also frequently cited in support of DL education programs (http://www.lindholm-leary.com/). Her work has included program evaluation for many DL programs in the United States. Here are just a few of her works that may be useful:

Lindholm-Leary, K. (2000). Biliteracy for a Global Society: An Idea Book on Dual Language Education.

Lindholm-Leary, K., & Adelson-Rodriguez, N. (2015). Research & Resources for English Learner Achievement. STARlight, 12.

Lindholm-Leary, K., & Hernández, A. (2011). Achievement and language proficiency of Latino students in dual language programmes: Native English speakers, fluent English/previous ELLs, and current ELLs. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 32(6), 531-545.

There are many other sources of research on DL education programs, often embedded in works that focus on English Learner education. These sources can be found at some of the following websites: