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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Two-Way Bilingual Education: A Progress Report on the Amigos Program


The Amigos two-way bilingual education program began as a collaborative effort between the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Public Schools' departments of desegregation and transitional bilingual education. Parents, teachers, administrators, and members of the community formed a committee to explore the possibility of developing a program that would combine the best features of transitional bilingual education (for limited-English-proficient students) and language immersion education (for native English speakers). The committee sought a way to end the isolation of language minority students from the rest of the school and to provide language majority students with the opportunity to acquire proficiency in a second language.

The Amigos program commenced in September 1986 and currently serves close to 250 public school students, half of whom are from Spanish speaking homes, the other half of whom are from English-speaking homes. Half of their instruction is provided in Spanish, the other had in English.

This report describes research that was conducted on the achievement in mathematics and in Spanish and English language arts of Amigos students and students in control/comparison groups. Also presented are data collected on students' and parents' attitudes toward bilingualism and biculturalism; students' self-assessment of academic competence and self-esteem; teachers' judgment of students' academic competence and self-esteem; and social-interactional patterns among Amigos students from different ethnic backgrounds.

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