206. We are implementing a 50/50 Spanish/English Dual Immersion Program at K-2 this year. English and Spanish are strictly spoken: English while in the English half of the day and Spanish while in the Spanish half.  The students are mixed equally between the classes, English/Spanish/Bilingual. We intend to continue the program as our students matriculate up the grades. We had a couple of key questions at yesterday's staff meeting and I would love your input:

(1) While instructing in a student's L2, when, if ever, may a teacher move to a student's L1 to support student understanding? How do you weigh program integrity (not breaching the L1/L2 language expectation) against student learning?

(2) What should student "output" language be for independent work? i.e., if a student is reading at level 1 in English and Level 16 in Spanish, should that student be required to read only in English during the English portion of the day? Spanish only in the Spanish portion of the day?


One of the key ideas to insure MAXIMUM academic progress through L2, is to coordinate the topics or content of the L1 and L2 lessons, so that while the student is being taught in L2, the corresponding lesson in L1 has been previously understood and the key concepts in the lesson have been mastered in L1. The L2 lesson --NOT EXACTLY THE SAME LESSON as in L1-- helps the students master the LANGUAGE of the lesson while applying and expanding the concepts already mastered in L1. (At the K-2 level, any one lesson deals with only a few concepts or one concept.) Thus, there has to be a great deal of cooperation and integration between the L1 and L2 teachers and their lessons.

Another idea that I have always suggested to dual and/or immersion language programs is to have within each class a "safety zone," that is, a location clearly marked where any student who needs help with anything --help in either L1 or L2, may be provided such help within a lesson or period of time. This way, no student feels frustrated if s(he) cannot understand what the teacher may be saying in L2. The student stands within the "safe zone" and discusses h(is/er) problem with the teacher in whichever language the student may feel most comfortable, regardless of the language of the lesson. This "safe zone" is also a location where visitors may stand, and where the teacher may speak to these visitors in whichever language they may understand, L1 or L2, regardless of the language of the lesson. Thus, the "safe zone" is not a place where students feel uncomfortable when speaking a language other than the language of the lesson. It is a place where ANYONE may stand and be addressed in whichever language they need to use to communicate with ease.



"Independent Reading" at the K-2 level may be, in some cases, glancing through English (L2) or Spanish (L2) books and magazines and identifying known words, maybe not ALL words, but some of the words on the page. Thus, the student should
be provided Spanish reading materials --at many levels of reading proficiency or reading difficulty-- during the Spanish portion of each day, and English reading materials --at many levels of reading proficiency or reading difficulty-- during the English portion of each day. Since this is "independent work" the student can, and should, choose the material to "read." It is the definition of "reading" that may vary:  A student who chooses a simple reader could actually "read" the book, while a student who chooses a rather difficult book or magazine, may be only looking for known words within the reading selection. Thus, these 2 students may be able to "read" differently during independent reading time and may talk about what they read in different ways.



For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


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Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

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