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Volume 27, Number 2
March/April 2011

Dual Language Programs on the Rise

“Enrichment” model puts content learning front and center for ELL students


Teacher Antonio Monrreal works with a student in a 7th grade dual language class at Liberty Middle School in Pharr, Texas.

Dual language programs, which provide instruction in both English and a second language, are flourishing in elementary schools across the country as educators find benefits for both English-language learners (ELLs) and those fluent in English.

At a time when other types of bilingual education are on the decline and the B-word—bilingual—has been scrubbed from the U.S. Department of Education lexicon, dual language programs are showing promise in their mission to promote biliteracy and positive cross-cultural attitudes in our increasingly multilingual world.

In 2000, there were about 260 dual language programs operating in U.S. schools, according to Richard Riley, who was serving as education secretary at the time. That year, he called on the nation to increase the number of dual language programs to 1,000 by 2005, saying our nation would be stronger with more biliterate citizens who could read and write in more than one language. “We need to invest in these kinds of programs,” said Riley. “In an international economy, knowledge, and knowledge of language, is power.”

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

V.P. Collier and W.P. Thomas. “The Astounding Effectiveness of Dual Language Education for All.” NABE Journal of Research and Practice 2, no. 1 (2004): 1–20.

O. Garcia and J.A. Kleifgen. Educating Emergent Bilinguals: Policies, Programs, and Practices for English Language Learners. New York: Teachers College Press, 2010.

C. Goldenberg. Improving Achievement for English Learners: Conclusions from Two Research Reviews. 2006.

National Association of Bilingual Education