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Preparing and Supporting Bilingual Teachers for Equity in Two Way Dual Language Immersion Programs: A Bilingual Epistemological Framework for Teaching, Research, and Policy

Authors: Magaly Lavadenz, Loyola Marymount University
Date Published: August 19, 2019

This paper aims to develop a set of theoretical principles from the approach of “knowledge in practice” for bilingual/dual language teachers that describe the concepts to support the knowledge base for the bilingual teaching profession, and in particular to deliver on the promise of equity in dual language immersion classrooms for diverse groups of English Learners.
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Dual language immersion programs, as one of several bilingual program model types, have gained both increasing popularity and increased scrutiny by several scholars (Cervantes-Soon, 2014; Flores & García, 2017; Skutnabb-Kangas & McCarthy, 2008; Valdés, 2018), who critique the implementation of two-way immersion programs in which predominantly Latin@, Spanish-speaking English Learner students participate. This scrutiny has resulted in several dilemmas, controversies and knowledge generation, including, but not limited to:


  • the commodification of languages as marketable/economic resources;
  • the access and equitable participation of non-Latino language minority groups and other marginalized groups, including African American students from a variety of income levels;
  • the need for research on the non-academic impacts of participation, the social interactions between actors in two-way immersion classrooms;
  • the essentialization of racial, linguistic, ethnic, income and other social identity markers into binary/dual categories that may over-generalize the diversity of children and communities in dual language immersion programs, thereby perpetuating stereotypes of the US-Latin@ community.


Developing the framework for bilingual epistemologies for teaching that delivers on the promise of equity for English Learners in dual language immersion classrooms requires: 1) building the empirical base; 2) defining what we can know about preparing bilingual teachers for equitably rigorous, practical, socially just, and democratic dual language education; and 3) conceptualizing the complexities of today’s bilingual education contexts from socio-political and historical perspectives.

This paper is organized by first providing a brief history of bilingual education in the US, positioning the passage of Proposition 58 (2016) in California an example of a set of policy reforms that literally guarantee the expansion of dual language immersion programs, followed by an overview of bilingual teacher credentialing and licensure. Then, findings from qualitative data, including interviews, observations, and journals from eleven practicing bilingual/dual language educators were collected, coded, and analyzed thematically over a three-year period. Grounded theoretical approaches were applied to develop a framework for bilingual teaching epistemologies, followed by set of recommendations for research, practice, and policy.


[1] I choose to use the term bilingual teachers and dual language teachers somewhat interchangeably given the nature of how the term in used in the literature. In California, and most states, bilingual authorizations include preparation to teach in a variety of bilingual program types, including two-way, developmental, and one-way programs, especially in the elementary grades.


This paper is one of 5 commissioned for the Forum entitled, "Confronting the Equity Issues in Dual Language Immersion Programs," December 7-8, 2018 at UCLA. See the event page with the agenda and links to all papers.
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