In his article, Dr. Medina details three (3) fundamentals for becoming a proficient dual language educator:
1. Know the three pillars of dual language
The three pillars of language are, “bilingualism/biliteracy, high academic achievement in both program language, sociocultural competence,” concepts which emphasize learning a second language, but “never at the expense of the first language and culture.” Additionally, these conceptualizations reinforce multilingualism and multiculturalism as sources of opportunity and not as impediments.
2. Know your program model and language allocation plan
There are a number of dual language programs out there and, in being familiar with one’s school’s program model, one can apply and adjust the program model to better fit the needs of the students. That is, “only if there is clarity in the program model and the language allocation plan, can dual language educators implement with fidelity and align with research recommendations.” Dr. Medina reiterates that “…unlike ESL and transitional bilingual programs, dual language is the only additive program model and allows us to serve language learners by adding additional languages, [and] never at the expense of the first language and culture,” adhering to his first fundamental for effective dual language teaching. TWIN-CS, as a two-way immersion dual language network, has flourished in our dual language model!
3. Know that initial literacy in both program language might be taught differently
Dr. Medina stresses that because English is a dominant language, educators must actively support the “status” of the partner language. As a suggestion, Dr. Medina believes that the partner language (Spanish, Chinese Mandarin, etc.) cannot be taught in the same way as English. A conscious effort to facilitate biliteracy without relying on language instruction “through an English lens,” will result in a more effective dual language education.
Dr. Medina restates that these three things are not all-inclusive and, to become an effective educator, one must see these three elements as foundational advice to build upon. To be the best educator one can be, one must “learn as much as possible about dual language program structure, instruction, curriculum, assessment, staffing & professional development, family & community, and resources.” Most importantly, one must remember that dual language education is “NOT about English language acquisition,” a process that may erase cultural identity.
As members of the TWIN-CS network, we support the numerous cultural identities that come with multilingualism. As educators, we are always looking to improve our classroom methods.
Please share any of your classroom experiences in which you saw the power of multilingual and multicultural education!
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-Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Student Researcher