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Expert Q&A

What does an effective language acquisition program look like?

Extensive research in the field of second language acquisition supports bilingual programs as effective models for second language acquisition. Researchers maintain that bilingual education promotes high levels of literacy in both the native and target languages.

In planning instruction that emphasizes biliteracy development, teachers need to:

  • understand the theoretical principles of second language acquisition to implement second language acquisition program models
  • plan instruction around themes to maximize learners’ opportunities for language and academic development
  • integrate the language arts skills (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) in every instructional unit
  • follow a progression that moves from a teacher-guided approach to higher levels of independent work
  • stimulate high levels of student involvement and participation in class
  • make use of a variety of teaching strategies to help learners develop concept and critical thinking skills
  • conduct on-going assessment to monitor English language and literacy development
  • engage in collaborative efforts with administrators to ensure that the program is congruent with sound pedagogical principles
  • infuse multicultural literature into the curriculum to promote appreciation of their own and each other’s culture
  • engage in continuous professional growth and reflection on their teaching practices
  • advocate for English language learners by being informed about research on programs and modes of delivery of instruction

All models of instruction assume high levels of support from family, school administration, community, and well-trained teachers with background on both first and second language development.

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