Frequently Asked Questions about TWI
Is it better for a TWI program to operate as a whole school or as a strand within a school?
Some TWI programs operate as a strand within a school that also offers a mainstream, English-only program (for example, two classes at each grade are TWI and the other two are English-only). Others operate as whole-school programs, with all students in the school participating in the TWI program. Many TWI programs begin as a strand within a school and later convert to a whole-school program, although others continue successfully as a strand.
There is no research indicating that one configuration is better than another, and there are advantages for each setting that programs should consider in program planning:
Advantages of the TWI program as a strand:
- More students and staff in the district are exposed to the idea of bilingual learning (through proximity to the TWI program held in their school).
- If the TWI program attracts mostly students from one ethnicity, there may be more of an opportunity for them to mix with children of other backgrounds who are in the mainstream classes.
- Parents can have the option of sending their kids to a school that they like and then choosing the TWI program or another program.
- There is an alternative program for students who decide to leave the TWI program without leaving the school.
- Having the program as a strand may allow more schools to offer a TWI program. More locations may mean that parents don’t have to drive their kids as far from home to the TWI school and/or the district may bear lower transportation costs.
Advantages of the TWI program as a whole building:
- The TWI program builds a greater sense of cohesiveness and identity within a school.
- There are more opportunities to use the partner language in all-school communications and to reinforce the idea that both languages are equally important within the school.
- All decisions made at the school level can focus on the needs of the TWI program.
- All district TWI teachers are in one place, making collaboration easier.
- Specialist teachers and administrators with TWI experience can be used more efficiently (e.g., personnel who can provide special education or reading support in the partner language can be consolidated in one building).