Frequently Asked Questions about TWI
What additional costs do dual language programs incur compared to mainstream programs?
Beyond start-up expenses (initial technical assistance and intensive professional development for all staff, an initial infusion of books for school and classroom libraries, outreach, and curriculum alignment activities), a dual language/TWI program may be able to operate in the long term with few additional costs. This will vary depending on factors such as the TWI model used, the amount of in-house expertise available, and the flexibility of budgeting decision-making at the school and district level.
Programs may incur additional costs to fund some or all of the following:
- A TWI coordinator. This person might work at the school or district level; some districts with TWI programs in multiple schools have a district coordinator as well as school coordinators. This person might also be an instructional coach, or sometimes an additional full-time or part-time instructional coach is hired.
- Technical assistance for setting up the program. The amount of money needed for technical assistance depends on whether there is already a program in the district and whether in-house expertise is available. At a minimum, there will be expenses for staff time to do the planning, recruiting, and communicating associated with starting a new program.
- Professional development. Teachers new to TWI will need intensive professional development in TWI methods and the local program’s approach in particular. Teachers and other staff should have regular professional development on topics pertinent to TWI, which may be in addition to other school- or district-wide professional development initiatives. Also, all teachers should be encouraged to attend professional conferences related to TWI education.
- Classroom materials in the partner language. This depends on the program model used and the number of teachers. If students have one teacher who teaches all content areas (math, science, social studies) in both languages, each child will need two complete sets of materials for each content area—
one in English and one in the partner language. If students have two teachers (one for English, one for the partner language), materials may be shared between the paired classes of students. If a program teaches some subjects in one language and some in the other, classes only need one set of materials per subject for each child, just like in a monolingual program. All programs will need language arts materials and classroom libraries in English and the partner language.
- School-wide materials in the partner language. This includes bilingual signs and materials for the library or media center.
- Curriculum alignment and development of benchmarks in the partner language. For districts introducing TWI programs, staff will need to devote time to aligning the TWI curriculum with district/state curricula or standards. They should also develop benchmarks or expectations for student progress in the partner language and evaluate and update those benchmarks regularly.
- Assessments in the partner language. Ideally, some partner language assessments would be given instead of English assessments with no net effect on cost per pupil. However, in many cases, assessments in the partner language are administered in addition to English-language tests. The cost for assessments varies widely.
- Evaluation. Staff should be compensated for time spent on evaluation activities, such as discussing student work, collecting assessment data on all of the program’s goals, and reflecting as a group on the program’s strengths and weaknesses. TWI programs should also budget for an occasional external evaluation in order to ensure that the program is aligned with research-based practices.
- Outreach. The program should prepare materials that describe the program and disseminate them in English and the partner language. They should also spend time advocating for the program and celebrating its successes in the community.
- Translation. Although this advice is not limited to TWI programs, schools with large populations of parents and families who speak a common language other than English should invest in a part-time or full-time professional translator to provide written translations for the school and classrooms and oral translation for parent-teacher conferences and large group meetings.