Why Dual Language?

Within the last decade, the United States has seen a significant shift in population demographics. This diaspora of immigration has impacted student demographics within both public and private, PreK-12 schools (National Center for Education Statistics; NCES, 2016b). As a result, projected statistics suggest that Caucasian students between grades K-12 will comprise less than 50 percent of the total student population in throughout the country (NCES, 2016b). The enrollment of English learners (ELs) is increasingly on the rise (NCES, 2016a). In 1990, 1 in 20 students enrolled between grades K-12 was considered to an EL (Nutta, Mokhtari, & Strebel, 2012). The U.S. Department of Education (2016) reported that this proportion is now 1 in 5.

Dual language programs are becoming increasingly popular modes of enrichment amongst students who are not only ELs but also for students whose first language (L1) is English (Ovando & Combs, 2012; Valdez, Freire, & Delavan, 2016). At its most basic definition, dual language education is a type of education in which the curriculum is instructed in two different languages (Lessow-Hurley, 2013). What Works Clearinghouse (WWC; 2013) issued the recommendation of ELs’ L1 to be used during academic instruction. There are several variations of dual language programs. The two-way immersion program is the most common (Lindholm-Leary, 2012). In this program, instruction is divided between two languages, typically through a 50-50 or 90-10 model in which the first figure represents the percentage of instructional time allocated for the minority language and the second represents English (Lessow-Hurley, 2013; Lindholm-Leary, 2012; Ovando & Combs, 2012).

Dual language programs view students’ L1 as a language right and linguistic resource rather than a problem or deficiency that needs remediation (Ruíz, 1984). Because of the additive, bilingual approach that dual language education encompasses, both native- and non-native-English speaking students learn a second language (L2) through content area instruction (Lessow-Hurley, 2013). As such, students enrolled into dual language programs reach bilingual proficiency and literacy as well as show high levels of academic achievement and multicultural awareness (Lindholm-Leary, 2012).

Research regarding the academic and linguistic outcomes of dual language-enrolled students has repeatedly shown that these students scored at or above grade level on standardized tests from both languages of instruction and throughout various content areas (e.g., math, reading, science; Lindholm-Leary, 2012).

As the existing literature presented shows, dual language educational programs provide a means that create students to become bilingual, biliterate, and biculture while learning content instruction through two different languages. However, the success of reaching these goals is highly dependent upon having quality teachers who are knowledgeable and skillful in dual language education. It is for these reasons that developing a dual language certification program at the graduate level is necessary.