ERIC Identifier: ED362072
Publication Date: 1993-09-00
Author: Rennie, Jeanne
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Languages and Linguistics Washington DC.
ESL and Bilingual Program Models. ERIC Digest.
Children from families in which English is not the language of the home
represent a rapidly increasing percentage of students enrolled in U.S. schools.
Language minority students can be found in schools across the country, not just
those in large cities or in areas near the U.S.-Mexican border. All schools must
be prepared to meet the challenge of an increasingly diverse student population,
including many students who are not proficient in English.
The effectiveness of various program models for language minority students
remains the subject of controversy. Although there may be reasons to claim the
superiority of one program model over another in certain situations (Collier
1992; Ramirez, Yuen, and Ramey 1991), a variety of programs can be effective.
The choice should be made at the local level after careful consideration of the
needs of the students involved and the resources available.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN SELECTING A PROGRAM MODEL
critical to consider several variables that will ultimately influence the type
of program most likely to be appropriate and effective in a given situation.
1. DISTRICT OR SCHOOL DEMOGRAPHICS. While some districts have a large
population of students from a single language background, others have several
large groups of students, each representing a different home language. Still
others may have small numbers of students from as many as 100 different language
backgrounds scattered across grade levels and schools. The total number of
language minority students, the number of students from each language
background, and their distribution across grades and schools will influence the
selection of the type of program to meet the needs of district students (McKeon,
2. STUDENT CHARACTERISTICS. Some language minority students enter U.S.
schools with strong academic preparation in their native language that may equal
or surpass that of their grade-level peers in the United States. Others,
however, may arrive in this country with little or no school experience. Social,
economic, and cultural factors in their home country may have interrupted their
schooling--if, indeed, they attended school at all. The needs of these students
are clearly much different from those of students with a solid academic
background (McKeon, 1987).
3. DISTRICT OR SCHOOL RESOURCES. Districts that have had a significant
language minority enrollment for many years will likely have teachers, aides,
and administrators trained to work with students who have limited English
proficiency. They may be able to draw on a large pool of bilingual personnel in
the community to staff bilingual programs. Other districts, faced with a sudden
influx of students from one or more unfamiliar language backgrounds, may have to
scramble to find qualified teachers or volunteers.
Material resources will also influence the type of program that a district or
school may be able to provide. Districts with declining enrollments may have
classroom space available for magnet programs or ESL (English as a second
language) resource centers. Other districts may be so overcrowded they cannot
even find a classroom to accommodate ESL pull-out classes (McKeon, 1987).
ESL PROGRAM MODELS
ESL programs (rather than bilingual
programs) are likely to be used in districts where the language minority
population is very diverse and represents many different languages. ESL programs
can accommodate students from different language backgrounds in the same class,
and teachers do not need to be proficient in the home language(s) of their
ESL pull-out is generally used in elementary school settings. Students spend
part of the school day in a mainstream classroom, but are pulled out for a
portion of each day to receive instruction in English as a second language.
Although schools with a large number of ESL students may have a full-time ESL
teacher, some districts employ an ESL teacher who travels to several schools to
work with small groups of students scattered throughout the district.
ESL class period is generally used in middle school settings. Students
receive ESL instruction during a regular class period and usually receive course
credit. They may be grouped for instruction according to their level of English
The ESL resource center is a variation of the pull-out design, bringing
students together from several classrooms or schools. The resource center
concentrates ESL materials and staff in one location and is usually staffed by
at least one full-time ESL teacher.
BILINGUAL PROGRAM MODELS
All bilingual program models use
the students' home language, in addition to English, for instruction. These
programs are most easily implemented in districts with a large number of
students from the same language background. Students in bilingual programs are
grouped according to their first language, and teachers must be proficient in
both English and the students' home language.
Early-exit bilingual programs are designed to help children acquire the
English skills required to succeed in an English-only mainstream classroom.
These programs provide some initial instruction in the students' first language,
primarily for the introduction of reading, but also for clarification.
Instruction in the first language is phased out rapidly, with most students
mainstreamed by the end of first or second grade. The choice of an early-exit
model may reflect community or parental preference, or it may be the only
bilingual program option available in districts with a limited number of
Late-exit programs differ from early-exit programs "primarily in the amount
and duration that English is used for instruction as well as the length of time
students are to participate in each program" (Ramirez, Yuen, & Ramey, 1991).
Students remain in late-exit programs throughout elementary school and continue
to receive 40% or more of their instruction in their first language, even when
they have been reclassified as fluent-English-proficient.
Two-way bilingual programs, also called developmental bilingual programs,
group language minority students from a single language background in the same
classroom with language majority (English-speaking) students. Ideally, there is
a nearly 50/50 balance between language minority and language majority students.
Instruction is provided in both English and the minority language. In some
programs, the languages are used on alternating days. Others may alternate
morning and afternoon, or they may divide the use of the two languages by
academic subject. Native English speakers and speakers of another language have
the opportunity to acquire proficiency in a second language while continuing to
develop their native language skills. Students serve as native-speaker role
models for their peers. Two-way bilingual classes may be taught by a single
teacher who is proficient in both languages or by two teachers, one of whom is
OTHER PROGRAM MODELS
Some programs provide neither
instruction in the native language nor direct instruction in ESL. However,
instruction is adapted to meet the needs of students who are not proficient in
Sheltered English or content-based programs group language minority students
from different language backgrounds together in classes where teachers use
English as the medium for providing content area instruction, adapting their
language to the proficiency level of the students. They may also use gestures
and visual aids to help students understand. Although the acquisition of English
is one of the goals of sheltered English and content-based programs, instruction
focuses on content rather than language.
Structured immersion programs use only English, but there is no explicit ESL
instruction. As in sheltered English and content-based programs, English is
taught through the content areas. Structured immersion teachers have strong
receptive skills in their students' first language and have a bilingual
education or ESL teaching credential. The teacher's use of the children's first
language is limited primarily to clarification of English instruction. Most
students are mainstreamed after 2 or 3 years.
CHARACTERISTICS OF AN EFFECTIVE PROGRAM
identified a number of attributes that are characteristic of effective programs
for language minority students.
1. Supportive whole-school contexts (Lucas, Henz, & Donato, 1990;
Tikunoff et al., 1991).
2. High expectations for language minority students, as evidenced by active
learning environments that are academically challenging (Collier, 1992; Lucas,
Henze, & Donato, 1990; Pease-Alvarez, Garcia, & Espinosa, 1991).
3. Intensive staff development programs designed to assist ALL teachers (not
just ESL or bilingual education teachers) in providing effective instruction to
language minority students (Lucas, Henze, & Donato, 1990; Tikunoff et al.,
4. Expert instructional leaders and teachers (Lucas, Henze, and Donato, 1990;
Pease-Alvarez, Garcia, & Espinosa, 1991; Tikunoff et al., 1991).
5. Emphasis on functional communication between teacher and students and
among fellow students (Garcia, 1991).
6. Organization of the instruction of basic skills and academic content
around thematic units (Garcia, 1991).
7. Frequent student interaction through the use of collaborative learning
techniques (Garcia, 1991).
8. Teachers with a high commitment to the educational success of all their
students (Garcia, 1991).
9. Principals supportive of their instructional staff and of teacher autonomy
while maintaining an awareness of district policies on curriculum and academic
accountability (Garcia, 1991).
10. Involvement of majority and minority parents in formal parent support
activities (Garcia, 1991).
Successful program models for promoting the
academic achievement of language minority students are those that enable these
students to develop academic skills while learning English. The best program
organization is one that is tailored to meet the linguistic, academic, and
affective needs of students; provides language minority students with the
instruction necessary to allow them to progress through school at a rate
commensurate with their native-English-speaking peers; and makes the best use of
district and community resources.
Collier, V. P. (1992). A Synthesis of studies
examining long-term language minority student data on academic achievement. "Bilingual Research Journal," 16, p. 187-212.
Garcia, E. (1991). "Education of linguistically and culturally diverse
students: Effective instructional practices." Educational practice report number
1. Santa Cruz, CA and Washington, DC: National Center for Research on Cultural
Diversity and Second Language Learning. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.
ED 338 099)
Lucas T., Henze, R., & Donato, R. (1990). Promoting the success of Latino
language minority students: An Exploratory study of six high schools. "Harvard
Educational Review," 60 (1), 315-340.
McKeon, D. (1987). "Different types of ESL programs. ERIC Digest."
Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics.
Pease-Alvarez, L., Garcia, E., & Espinosa, P. (1991). Effective
instruction for language minority students: An early childhood case study.
"Early Childhood Research Quarterly," 6, 347-361.
Ramirez, J. D., Yuen, S. D., & Ramey, D. R. (1991). "Longitudinal study
of structured English immersion strategy, early-exit, and late-exit transitional
bilingual education programs for language-minority children." San Mateo, CA:
Tikunoff, W., Ward, B., van Broekhuizen, D., Romero, M., Castaneda, L.V.,
Lucas, T., & Katz, A. (1991). "A Descriptive study of significant features
of exemplary special alternative instructional programs." Washington: U. S.
Department of Education, Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages
This Digest is based on an article published in the August 1993 issue of
"Streamlined Seminar" (Volume 12, Number 1), the newsletter of the National
Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). For information on
"Streamlined Seminar" or NAESP, write NAESP, 1615 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA
22314-3483. The author acknowledges the assistance of Denise McKeon of the
National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education in the preparation of this