Effective Bilingual Education Models in K- Classrooms

Definition of Bilingual Education

The term bilingual education is used to refer to instructional programs that provide students with an education in two languages (Freeman, Freeman, Ramirez p. 60). When de?¬?ning bilingual education in K-12 classrooms, it is important to understand its goals. According to Stephen Krashen, the first goal is to teach students English, and the second goal is to nurture students’ native language development. To be effective, well-designed bilingual education programs require researched based models with adequately trained teachers and staff to execute them. Schools that consider implementing a bilingual education program put all students in a favorable position to not only become academically successful, but also become marketable for future careers. Bilingual Education Program Models The two-way dual language enrichment model (DLE) is one that is noted for its effectiveness in closing the achievement gap for ELLs. Students learn content together in two different ways using two languages. For example, if my middle school had six ELLs then it is possible that six English-dominant students would form a two-way DLE classroom. In these programs, though, there can be considerable variation in the ethnicity and race of the native English speakers. Native English speakers may include all races except Hispanics. Often, students come from different social and economic backgrounds. ELLs are in a heterogeneous environment where they learn from their native English speaking peers as well as achieve high academic success from a curriculum taught 50% in English and 50% in a second language.

The one-way dual language enrichment model (DLE) is similar to the two-way DLE model. It only differs in the demographics of the student body in the classroom. One example that is widely used is the Gomez and Gomez model. Specifically, if my school had only Spanish speaking ELLs, the students would begin literacy instruction in their first language but always study math in English and science and social studies in Spanish. Time is allotted for music and art which would be taught by alternating languages each day (Freeman, Freeman, Ramirez p. 71). In addition, I found the language of the day feature to be of great importance because ELLs can continue to build a rich vocabulary that encourages bilingualism. If they encounter staff members, they could discuss simple topics such as the school’s announcements. This model also promotes high academic achievement. Although I don’t currently serve an ELL population at my school, I prefer this model because of the area in which I live the possibility of Spanish speaking students would most likely be the case rather than any other language. My goal would be to provide an environment that is non-threatening in which the ELL feels comfortable in taking risks, and build on the ELL’s experiences to maximize academic success.

Benefits of Bilingual Education

In a society that is increasingly bilingual, school districts must realize the benefits of establishing these programs as early as Kindergarten. Foreign language is a core high school graduation requirement in the state of Arkansas; however, it would be more valuable if students were exposed to a second language at an early age. How would this impact their future? Students would become proficient in two languages before high school graduation. I firmly stand on the mission that I teach to produce lifelong learners. This topic has given me a new outlook on the phrase, college and career ready. I now see how students could become great assets to major companies if they were active participants in a K-12 bilingual education program. With this in mind, if more bilingual programs were implemented in school districts, students would have a competitive academic advantage. Exposing students to new concepts in a second language enhances their knowledge as well as broaden their perspective of different cultures.

Resources

  1. Freeman, Y. S., Freeman, D. E., & Ramirez, R. (2008). Diverse learners in the mainstream classroom: Strategies for supporting all students across content areas: English language learners, students with disabilities, gifted/talented students. Bilingual Education (pp. 59-76). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
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