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Building Sustainability: Dual Language Programs at the Middle School Level


This study examined the ways in which a middle school with a Spanish/English and a Mandarin/English Dual Language (DL) program has sustained these programs despite the obstacles identified by research. DL programs aim to achieve the goals of additive bilingualism, biliteracy, and sociocultural competence, while meeting grade-level academic expectations. I examined navigation of obstacles and identification of essential supporting structures. I conducted interviews of school leaders and teachers in order to learn best practices for sustainability. In this study sustainability is defined as the ability to achieve the aforementioned goals amid ongoing change while ensuring equity for marginalized students. These practices include program design, curriculum and instruction, recruitment and retention, and professional development. Additionally, observations and documents provided further data on how these practices unfolded and confirmed interview data collected. This case study highlights the challenges inherent in a DL program while also illustrating the way administrators and teachers overcome threats and maintain a successful program. Key findings reveal known and unknown challenges and solutions to the sustainability of DL middle schools. The three categories are equity, finances, and recruitment and retention. This study will enable other schools considering or implementing a DL middle school to understand the processes of, the obstacles and the solutions to anticipated problems.

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