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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Promoting Successful Transition to the Mainstream: Effective Instructional Strategies for Bilingual Students

  • Author(s): (CREDE), Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence
  • et al.

This Digest describes a research and development program being carried out in transitional bilingual education (TBE) programs at five elementary schools in the Los Angeles area. The majority of the students in these schools are Latino, and more than 80% are classified as limited English proficient (LEP) at the time of enrollment. Since the early 1990s, researchers have been collaborating with teachers and project advisors to develop, implement, and describe instructional strategies that significantly improve the chances of these students to make a successful transition to mainstream English instruction. The transition program they have developed optimally spans Grades 3 through 5. Grade 3 is considered a pre-transition year, Grade 4 is Transition I, and Grade 5 is Transition II. The pre-transition component is designed to emphasize the importance of developing literacy skills in Spanish and oral language skills in English. The goal is to have all students performing at grade level in Spanish reading and writing and at the speech emergence level in oral English by the end of Grade 3, at which time they qualify for transition and begin English reading and writing while they continue receiving Spanish language arts.

It should be noted that the passage of California's Proposition 227 in 1998 essentially eliminated many bilingual programs throughout the state, including the ones with which the researchers have been working. Nevertheless, they are still investigating the effects of the transition program and its many components on the language arts achievement of English learners.

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