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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Two-Way Bilingual Education: Students Learning Through Two Languages

  • Author(s): Christian, Donna
  • et al.

In a growing number of schools in the United States, students are learning through two languages in programs that aim to develop dual language proficiency along with academic achievement. These two-way bilingual programs integrate language minority and language majority students and provide content area instruction and language development in two languages.

A study of over 160 schools between 1991 and 1994 provides a picture of the current state of two-way bilingual education in the United States. Two-way programs typically share the goals of bilingual proficiency, academic achievement, and positive cross-cultural attitudes and behaviors, but they vary a good deal in the approaches and strategies they use to work toward those goals. A host of local factors affect such issues as student enrollment, program features and design, and instructional features.

Emerging results of studies of two-way bilingual programs point to their effectiveness in educating nonnative-English-speaking students, their promise of expanding our nation's language resources by conserving the native language skills of minority students and developing second language skills in English-speaking students, and their hope of improving relationships between majority and minority groups by enhancing cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

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