Classroom Instruction: Questions and Answers

Introduction

This Question and Answer (Q&A) document is meant to provide guidance on important aspects of instruction in TWI classrooms, such as language and literacy development, working with special student populations, and teacher preparation and support. To generate the questions, we visited two new TWI programs (a 50/50 program on the East Coast and a 90/10 program on the West Coast) and brainstormed questions with teachers in those programs.

We then grouped the questions into sections by theme: Language Development, Literacy Instruction, Cross-Cultural Competence, Assessment, Supporting Special Student Populations, and Teacher Supports. Next, we solicited responses for each thematic chunk from experts in the field. The experts (who are listed as contributors in the acknowledgments section of this document) have varying experiences in dual language education, as teachers, administrators, parents, teacher trainers, and researchers; many, in fact, have had multiple roles. In an effort to ensure that each answer represents consensus in the field on a given topic rather than the personal beliefs of an individual respondent, we solicited responses from two to five experts for each question. Finally, we synthesized the multiple responses into a single, unified answer to each question. Where possible, links to supporting documents referenced in the answers (such as guidelines for the identification of students with special needs) are provided as well.

When reading through the Q&A responses, it is important to keep a few things in mind. First, while we attempted to ensure consensus in the field by soliciting input from multiple experts for each question, it is certainly possible that there are other equally valid answers that are not included here, or that some answers provided here are not appropriate in certain contexts. Second, to the extent possible, the research base in support of the responses is provided; however, in some cases, no research exists to provide guidance. In those cases, the responses are based on the expertsí accumulated experiential knowledge and anecdotal evidence with regard to best practices. For both of these reasons, the reader should not think of the answers as definitive responses that will always apply in every situation. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each reader to consider his or her context and determine the extent to which these answers apply in that setting.

Finally, while these are questions posed by TWI teachers, in many cases the question and its answer could also apply to other language learning situations, such as transitional bilingual or English as a second language (ESL) education. This is not overly surprising, as most educational settings for second language learners share important characteristics and face similar challenges. However, to the extent possible, we provide responses specific to two-way immersion as well as vignettes from TWI programs to help clarify how the issue would play out in a TWI setting.

To begin, select a section in the table of contents at left, or view a list of questions in all categories.