English Education

What is Two-Way Bilingual Education?

This is a system of teaching that makes use of two language models. Students are typically taught in English and an additional language. In two-way bilingual education programs, learners develop dual language proficiency by obtaining instruction in another language and English in a classroom that generally comprises half native speakers of a target language and half naïve speakers of English. 

While Spanish is presently the most popular target language in these programs, several programs support learning through French, Russian, Japanese, Korean, and Portuguese. These programs provide both groups of learners with enough exposure to the two languages, helping them progress academically in both languages and develop an appreciation of another culture. Language minority pupils benefit from the opportunities to develop and learn through English and their native language, and English-speaking students perform well academically in an immersion environment.

The curriculum is content-based and concentrates on developing robust academic achievement in both languages. Teachers should use techniques that make instruction more understandable as pupils learn content using a language they don’t speak natively. Instructors often use hands-on or experiential activities, peer interaction, thematic units, multiple cues that give learners additional opportunities to master concepts, and the whole language approaches. 

While the objectives of these programs usually remain constant, the techniques through which these objectives are achieved depend largely on demographics, local conditions, and community attitudes. Therefore, each program creates a selection from different modes of instruction. For instance, a program might allocate the languages by content (e.g., science, music, and arts are taught in English, while math and social studies are taught in Spanish), by the person (e.g., one instructor uses only English and another uses only Cantonese), or by time (e.g., instruction on each language is delivered on alternate days).

These programs also follow multiple language development models. The two most sought-after models include the “50/50” and the “90/10” models. In the “50/50” model, learners receive instruction in two languages for the same amount of time. In the “90/10” model, around 10% of the instruction is in English, with around 90% in the other language in the early grades, gradually proceeding toward the “50/50” model in the upper grades. T

he way learners are integrated into these programs varies to some extent. Many programs never segregate the learners depending on their language background, while others give certain second language instruction to segregated students each day. However, cross-group interaction helps learners gain the full advantages of the two-way approach, as the presence of both language groups’ native speakers makes the environment of these programs more favorable for second language learning.

The development of two-way bilingual programs in different languages is a growing area of interest. Spanish is the most popular target language utilized in these programs these days. However, communities, where different languages are predominant, might benefit from two-way programs. There’s also interest in developing programs at the secondary level to continue the development and maintenance of the target language. Parental and community support are vital for these programs’ development and long-term existence.

What is Transitional Bilingual Education?

A teaching approach in which students are taught to read (or even other subjects) using their native language for a couple of years before the learning transitions to English instruction. In a Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) program, the native language of the learners is used to support their content learning and development of English and is gradually phased out of instruction as learners’ English proficiency increases. 

TBE programs enroll English learners who speak a common native language. These learners might vary in a few other vital areas, including home language literacy experiences, individual learning needs, country of origin, and level of English proficiency. TBE programs may begin or end at any grade level based on individual students’ needs and performance patterns and according to district policy.

TBE programs respond flexibly to learners at varying English proficiency levels who are proficient in their native language. Typically, these programs’ initial literacy and content instruction are in the learner’s native language, paired with sequential and systematic ESL instruction. Instructors leverage learners’ cultural and linguistic resources to support literacy and language development and grade-appropriate content learning. The amount of time utilized for content instruction in English and the home language varies based on the learners’ grade levels and English language proficiency. The home language instruction’s ratio progressively decreases as English instruction’s ratio increases, until instruction in the native language is completely phased out.

Key features of TBE programs include:

  •         Clear articulation of the use and role of learners’ native language and English to support literacy and language development proficiency in grade-level content
  •         Integration of learners in the program to the maximum extent possible without undermining their education’s integrity
  •         High academic expectations for all learners

Two key models of instruction are used within the TBE classroom depending on the learners’ language proficiency.

Early-exit model: The main objective of this model is to expedite the second language’s acquisition so that English learners can be integrated into classrooms with native English speakers. This model uses English learners’ primary language to develop their English language competency.

Late-exit model: The key objective of this model is to facilitate comprehension of all core content topics while maintaining the use of the learners’ native language. This model allows a more extensive transitional period during which pupils learn the second language at a slower pace. Here, more attention and time is given to mastering literacy in the learners’ native language to support learning in the second language. Students who might have interrupted or limited formal education need more time. A gradual transition of a minimum of four to six years might be optimal to give those students the support necessary for academic success.

TBE programs come with the flexibility to help more transient student populations because the program design lets students enter and exit at any time, depending on their individual performance patterns. Generally, programs that focus on early exit from TBE transition pupils to SEI (Sheltered English Immersion) programs. Pupils from early-exit models still remain ELs (English learners) and should receive EL services.

What is English Immersion?

This is an environment for learning where students are instructed basically or totally in English. English immersion approaches are based on the concept that if the teachers plunge learners into an exclusively English environment, they’ll master it much more quickly than conventional teaching methods. The idea is that if students read or hear the language enough, at a level they can understand, they’ll get better at using it. What makes English immersion different from other approaches is the greater number of opportunities to read, hear, and use the language. Immersion provides the students with constant exposure to English, thus offering limitless learning opportunities.

The success of English immersion programs varies by region and school. Not all learners can grasp English in the same period of time. Generally, both teachers and students are only allowed to communicate in English in the classroom. Assignments and tests evaluate every student’s success with the language. In the United States, most of these programs are taught in localities densely populated with native speakers of other languages. The desired result of English immersion programs is for learners to gain the confidence required to use English fluently in every aspect of life. Learners aren’t anticipated to forget their native languages. 

The objective of English immersion is to let students overcome the barriers in learning the language. An English immersion program may last months or years. Depending on resource availability, learners without any English background might be in a class with other learners in the same boat. On the contrary, a learner might be in a class where all the other learners already speak English.

As more students enroll in English immersion programs, parents need to find methods to engage their kids and get involved in the learning. Parents can use the following strategies to achieve this goal.

Reading to and with them: When parents regularly read to their kids, they model how to read with expression and fluency and instill a love of reading. Reading is usually one of the first skills kids develop when learning a new language. Therefore, it’s an excellent method to get them excited about demonstrating their progress.

Applauding effort: Parents should emphasize the importance of acquiring another language and recognize their kids’ accomplishments and progress. Regardless of the accomplishment, parents should praise their kids for their determination and effort toward their goals. Learners’ motivation continues to grow over time when they become excited about the progress they’re making.

Encouraging curiosity: Parents can ask their kids open-ended questions about what they’re learning in school. They should motivate the children to question the world around them.

Getting involved: Parents should get involved in their kids’ school experience by helping with activities, field trips, and materials or volunteering in the immersion classroom. If making it to the classroom isn’t possible, parents can set up a playdate with another student on the weekends to help them practice their language skills together. However they decide to get involved, comprehending a bit more about the kids’ classroom can benefit both.