Dual Language SchoolsInitial Dual Language Program Implementation


Establish the chosen dual language education program based on recommended percentages of linguistic groups, adhering to all state and federal guidelines/requirements for English Learner education.


This is perhaps the most challenging part of setting up a dual language education program, as recruitment efforts may result in a larger number of students from one of the linguistic groups wanting to enroll in the program. Careful monitoring of program enrollment requests for linguistic group totals is vital to be able to target the marketing of the program to parents of students in the linguistic group that has the lowest enrollment.

  • Establish the Dual Language Education Program
    • Begin with a minimum of two kindergarten (or earlier, such as in transitional kindergarten in California, or as early as pre-kindergarten) classes
    • Add two more classes each year at the next grade level
      • If the class sizes in the primary grades are smaller than at the upper grades, then the two classes may end up being only one class once the dual language students reach those grade levels.
        • There will likely be some program attrition to make moving from two smaller classes to one larger class possible.
  • Classroom Composition
    • Ideal classroom composition is 50% native English-speaking students and 50% native target language-speaking students.
      • Can be as low as 33% native English-speakers and 33% native target language speakers.
        • The additional 34% of the class can be heritage language speakers, who have a background in the target language, but are not age-level proficient in the target language.
    • If there is not at least 33% of two different linguistic groups in the classroom, the program is considered a dual language (two languages being used) one-way immersion (majority of students in class are from one linguistic group) program.
  • Compliance Requirements
    • Be aware of any compliance/legal requirements for English Learners first entering the district with regard to instruction in their educational program.
      • In California, for instance, there are several requirements that affect an English Learner enrolling in a dual language education program:
        • There is a requirement that English Learners receive instruction "overwhelmingly in English" in their first 30 calendar days of school before being able to fully participate in a dual language program (there is an initiative going on the ballot in November 2016 to repeal this and several other requirements that affect English Learner education).
          • This only affects students in 90:10 programs; students in 50:50 programs receive sufficient instruction in English each day to meet this requirement.
        • There is also a requirement that an English Learner's parents must sign a waiver in order to enroll their students in what is considered an "alternative bilingual education" program when they first enter the program.