Bilingual Education

Bilingual education is the instruction of academic courses in two languages: a native language and a secondary language. There are several different types of bilingual education program models, each dictating the amount of both languages used in instruction and other aspects of teaching methodology. These are four basic bilingual education models:

1. Transitional
Transitional bilingual education involves instruction in the student’s primary language for core-curriculum subjects, like math and science, to ensure that he or she remains on-par with her English-speaking peers while assimilating to normal classes in English. The focus of such a program is to teach the pupil English as quickly as possible in order to get them into English-only classes at the first opportunity.

2. Two-Way or Dual Language Immersion
Another model of bilingual education is the two-way or dual language immersion program, which aims to help both native and non-native English-speaking students become bilingual. This is accomplished by creating classrooms of half English-speaking students and half non-English speaking students, thus creating an atmosphere that is unsegregated and allows for an organic exchange of knowledge amongst the class.

3. Dual Language
The dual language bilingual education model takes two approaches: one to strengthen student’s English language skills, the other to increase aptitude in the native language. English language skills are honed by academic subjects taught by bilingual instructors, who teach in English but can take students’ questions in their native one. Native language competency is sharpened through intensive literacy courses. The justification to this latter approach is research that has demonstrated the easy with which students can transfer high-order language skills from their native language to a secondary one.

4. Late-Exit or Developmental
Almost the polar opposite of transitional bilingual education, the late-exit or developmental program focuses on extended education in the child’s native language accompanied with courses in English. The goal is to develop literacy in the native language, which can later be transfered over to the English language. This is akin to the approach to foreign languages taken in most Amercian schools.

Bilingual classes are taught either by bilingual teachers or in coordination with translators for assistance. For obvious reasons, teachers must often be fluent in at least two language. They must also hold a bachelor’s degree as well as relevant state certifications.