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2. Deciding on the Program Model and Program Visits

GOAL:

Decide which program model(s) to consider for the dual language program and then visit experienced, successful dual language programs (with a minimum of 4 years implementation) for each model being considered.

OVERVIEW:

When deciding on the program model to use for a dual language program, it is important to consider the outcomes that have been identified through the work of the Leadership Team for the program and which model would best support those outcomes. Research on each program model should be reviewed and discussed. The site(s) where the program will be implemented will also impact the program model decision, as it will be based upon each site’s instructional minutes per content area. It is recommended that the percentages of instruction in each language be calculated based on the site’s daily schedule for each grade level across the span of one week. Ideally, the percentage of each day’s instruction would be aligned with the program model, but most programs average the minutes out over the span of a week to accommodate things such as minimum days, assemblies, library time, etc.

The Leadership Team should then visit several existing programs in order to see what an instructional day looks like for each program model being considered. The team can meet and speak with others who have successfully started and operated a program to learn the key factors in a successful start as well as potential challenges to be aware of and prepared for.

Dual Language Education Program Models

There are several different models for dual language programs, based on the percentage of instructional time in each language. The most common are the 90:10 and the 50:50 models.

  • 90:10 Model
    In this model, the target language is used in kindergarten for 90% of the instructional time and English is used for 10%. At each grade level, the amount of instruction in English rises by 10%, as per the chart, below. This is considered a “sequential literacy” model, as literacy in the target language is developed before moving on to developing literacy in English.
    Grade Target Language English
    Kindergarten 90% 10%
    First 80% 20%
    Second 70% 30%
    Third 60% 40%
    Fourth and beyond* 50% 50%
    *For many programs, the percentage in the target language is reduced further at the secondary level, often to 30%-40%, for reasons that include a lack of highly qualified biliterate teachers with a secondary credential in the various subject areas.
  • 50:50 Model
    In this model, the target language is used in kindergarten for 50% of the instructional time and English is used for 50%. At each grade level, the amount of instruction in English and the target language remain the same, as per the chart, below. This is considered a “simultaneous literacy” model, as the target language and English are focused on simultaneously.
    The 50:50 model requires a closely aligned curricular program where instruction in key content areas, such as language arts and math, is alternated throughout the week. The skills are not retaught in both languages, but rather are built upon.
    Grade Target Language English
    Kindergarten 50% 50%
    First 50% 50%
    Second 50% 50%
    Third 50% 50%
    Fourth and beyond* 50% 50%
    *For many programs, the percentage in the target language is reduced further at the secondary level, often to 30%-40%, for reasons that include a lack of highly qualified biliterate teachers with a secondary credential in the various subject areas.
  • English-Speaking Partner Teachers in Each Model
    • Both models, 90:10 and 50:50, require an English-speaking partner teacher (at the same grade level) for every teacher in the dual language education program.
      • This partner teacher provides monolingual instruction, and is the only teacher who speaks to/teaches the students (both English Learner and English-only) in English.
      • In the primary grades, it is recommended that the partner teacher be bilingual so that he/she can better understand the students when they use the target language during English instruction time.
      • The dual language education program teacher also provides monolingual instruction, and is the only teacher who speaks to/teaches the students (both English Learner and English-only) in the target language.
      • Both teachers adhere to the program model and do not mix languages.

Implementation Models

There are also variations in how the program is implemented at a school site. The most common is a whole school program or a strand within a school program.

  • Whole School Program
    All classrooms in the school are implementing the dual language program model based on the grade level being taught. All students in the school are enrolled in the dual language program. All teachers in the school teach in the dual language program.
    This model has implications for district policy, as students living in the site’s attendance area who do not want (or do not qualify) to be in the dual language program would have to attend a different school.
    School currently open: If the school is currently open and the intent is to shift it to a whole school dual language program, it typically starts with kindergarten and expands the program each year to the next grade level.
    This also brings about staffing implications, as each year that the dual language program advances to a higher grade level, more dual language teachers will be needed, which means that there may be fewer positions for non-dual language teachers at the site. Transfers may have to be worked out with Human Resources, as per the bargaining unit’s contract.
    School currently closed (reopening as a full school dual language program): If the school is currently closed and the intent is to reopen as a whole school dual language program, then the students living in the site’s attendance boundaries will have to either enroll in the dual language program (if eligible) or attend another school outside the attendance area.
    In addition, it is recommended that the dual language program start at kindergarten (and, in some cases, first grade), and moving up one grade level each year. The question is then who will teach the grade levels that are not currently implementing the dual language program, and what students will fill those grade level classrooms. It is recommended that all staff assigned to the school have the appropriate bilingual teaching credential so that they can teach both in the English-only as well as the dual language program.
  • Strand within a School (“School within a School”) Program
    A dedicated number of classrooms at each grade level are implementing the dual language program model based on the grade level being taught. All the students in these classrooms are enrolled in the dual language program, and the teachers that present instruction in the target language have their state credential/authorization to teach in the target language.
    This model has fewer implications for policy, such as attendance area boundaries, as there is an English-only as well as a dual language program at the site.
    However, there are other implications with regard to a separate program operating within the school, which can lead to a sense of the dual language education program feeling disconnected from the school as a whole. Often, districts will develop other programs at the school, often as “academies,” so that all students in the school can experience a sense of belonging to one of the many programs at the site. A specific focus is then placed on making all students, regardless of the program they participate in, feel like they are all a part of the larger school family.

Where to Find Experienced, Successful Programs

For recommendations of where to locate programs to visit, contact your County Office of Education English Learner Department, your state affiliate of the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), or check out our dual language schools database

Preparing for a Program Visit

Formulate a list of questions to help the Leadership Team learn from the visit and to better inform its planning and work.

For example:

  • What were the considerations that lead you to consider your model?
  • How did you decide upon the model?
  • How did you recruit teachers for your program?
  • How do you recruit students? What are your registration criteria?
  • How are your waiting lists prioritized and addressed?
  • How do you organize your daily schedule (allocate instructional minutes by language and content area)?
  • How do you maintain adherence to the target language according to the program model?
  • Where do you obtain instructional materials in the target language?
  • What assessments do you use?
Join the Discussion: 
  1. What model do you plan on using? Why did you choose this model?
  2. What are the pros and cons of your model?
  3. What was your biggest challenge on choosing your model?

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