New School Year: 3 Tips for Dual Language Teachers

By: Dr. José Medina, Founder and Chief Educational Advocate

Dr. José Medina: Educational Solutions

As the 2018 – 2019 school year begins, I have been asked several times for the top tips that a dual language teacher should keep in mind, as classroom setups are taking place.

The following are three quick reminders of what to keep in mind as you begin the new school year!

Tip #1: Make sure that your classroom looks like a dual language classroom!

  • Sometimes, dual language teachers, especially in a partner teacher model, forget that a dual language classroom should not feel and look like a monolingual English classroom or a monolingual partner language classroom.
  • If you are a dual language teacher that happens to facilitate instruction in English, your class setup should include a designated space where the two program languages are represented via cross-linguistic anchor charts. This would include clear delineation of the two colors for the program languages. For example, green for English and blue for Spanish.
  • If you are a dual language teacher that happens to facilitate instruction in the non-English program language, the classroom should include environmental print and anchor chart support in the language of instruction, but also, a designated space where cross-linguistic anchor charts are displayed.
  • For self-contained dual language teachers, it is best to have one space designated for English anchor chart support, another wall for the non-English partner language, and again, a designated space where the students post anchor charts that were collaboratively created with the teacher – bringing both program languages together.
  • Also, remember that word walls and anchor charts should support the language of instruction and not solely focus on the way that English literacy and/or content is taught.

Continue reading to learn more about José’s back to school advice…

Tip #2: In partner teacher models, the two classrooms need to have cohesiveness, but do not have to be a mirror image of the other!

  • Dual language teachers are professionals with individual gifts that are used for the facilitation of biliteracy instruction. Being in a dual language partner “marriage” does not mean that you both must do everything in the same way when setting up the classroom.
  • Both teachers should come to an understanding of the basic instructional systems that will be used, so that students feel safe and at ease as they transition from space to space.

Tip #3: Post and share the 3 goals of dual language education!

  • Dual language teachers should be able to advocate for dual language programs by being able to speak to the three goals of dual language education.
  • Students also should be able to explain the 3 goals as they participate in dual language programming.
  • Posting the 3 goals of dual language in the classroom, in both program languages, helps students make these connections.
  • Some dual language teachers also have students review which of the 3 goals were supported by the lesson, as content and language objectives are reviewed at the end of each lesson. This is the way to go!!

Dual language teachers are amazing! Thanks for the work you do!

If you ever have any questions, please do not hesitate to send me a Tweet @josemedinajr89 or reach me via email at

Dr. José L Medina is the founder and Chief Educational Advocate at Dr. José Medina: Educational Solutions. Prior to establishing his own educational consulting firm, Dr. Medina served as the Director of Dual Language Education and Bilingual Education at the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) in Washington, DC. José provides dual language technical assistance, professional development, and job-embedded support to dual language programs across the United States and globally. He is a former dual language school principal and has served as an administrator and educator at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Dr. Medina is one of the authors of the third edition of the widely-used Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education. Dr. Medina can be reached via email at or follow him on Twitter @josemedinajr89.

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