ArticlePDF Available

Evolving 50%-50% Bilingual Pedagogy in Alberta: What does the research say?


Abstract and Figures

This paper outlines the provincial frameworks that define the Spanish bilingual program in Alberta, Canada, provides an historical overview of its pedagogic constraints and evolution, and proposes a framework for bilingual pedagogy. The framework is conceptualized from the research evidence of three local case studies, and is based on the centrality of cross-linguistic transfer, in relation to linguistic interdependence and bilingual learning.
Content may be subject to copyright.
published: 17 June 2014
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00413
Evolving 50–50% bilingual pedagogy in Alberta: what does
the research say?
Rahat Naqvi 1*, Elaine Schmidt 2and Marlene Krickhan 3
1Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
2Calgary Board of Education, Calgary, AB, Canada
3Senator Patrick Burns School, Calgary Board of Education, Calgary, AB, Canada
Edited by:
Mary Grantham O’Brien, University of
Calgary, Canada
Reviewed by:
Gatis Dilans, Ventspils University
College, Latvia
Margot Kinberg, National University,
Ibon Manterola, Universidad del País
Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea,
Rahat Naqvi, Werklund School of
Education, University of Calgary,
Education Tower 1004, 2500
University Drive North West, Calgary,
AB T2N 1N4, Canada
This paper outlines the provincial frameworks that define the Spanish bilingual program in
Alberta, Canada, provides an historical overview of its pedagogic constraints and evolution,
and proposes a framework for bilingual pedagogy. The framework is conceptualized from
the research evidence of three local case studies, and is based on the centrality of cross-
linguistic transfer, in relation to linguistic interdependence and bilingual learning.
Keywords: bilingual pedagogy, cross-linguistic transfer, bilingual learning, Spanish
Canada’s evolution as a global voice in language education was
facilitated by the 1969 Official Languages Act, and the 1971
articulation of the framework of multiculturalism and bilin-
gualism. Not only did this political underpinning immediately
facilitate a coast-to-coast bilingual education movement, i.e., the
internationally recognized and well-researched French Immer-
sion program; but also, it has been seminal in the evolution
of other significant provincial language and culture initiatives.
In this article about a specific provincial scenario, we discuss
emerging understandings regarding second language learning
pedagogies, as they exist within the current globalized educational
In Western Canada, in the province of Alberta in particular,
an initiative akin to the French Immersion educational concept is
alternative bilingual language programs such as English-Chinese,
English-German, and English-Spanish (Alberta Education, 2000).
Similar to French Immersion, this bilingual model is additive in
intent. Its purpose is to develop strong language competencies and
literacy in two languages; an objective which is somewhat unique
within the scope of North American bilingual programming.
There is extensive research (for a complete review see Cummins,
1996,2001;Genesee and Lindholm-Leary, 2007) describing the
various types of bilingual programs prevalent in North Amer-
ica and other countries. The goals of the bilingual programs can
differ to a great extent. For example transitional bilingual educa-
tion, one of the most common forms of bilingual education for
minority students in the United States during the past 40 years,
aims only to promote students’ proficiency in English (Cummins,
2009). That is to say, when students develop sufficient English
language proficiency to follow instructions and write in English,
the home language instruction is discontinued and they transition
into mainstream classrooms.
In Alberta, the additive bilingual model also emphasizes a
range of other educational goals in keeping with current demo-
graphic realities and values, such as the trend toward increased
choice within public education systems, and the nurturing of
global citizenship and intercultural competencies (Holmes, 2008).
This approach aligns with the growing national and global trend
toward multilingualism and multiculturalism, and is confirmed in
Canada’s most recent census, which documents an 11% increase
in the population who speak languages other than the dominant
language; and a total of 20.6% of Canadians who have a mother
tongue other than English or French (The Globe and Mail, 2012).
The social dynamics associated with linguistic diversity, the impact
of emerging multi-modal technologies, and the central theme
of educational policy within economic discourse (Padoan, 2012)
result in a radically altered educational landscape that requires
both exploration and interpretation.
This paper outlines the provincial frameworks that define the
bilingual program, provides an historical overview of its pedagogic
constraints and evolution, and proposes a framework for bilingual
pedagogy based on theoretical underpinnings and local research
The Spanish bilingual program in Alberta is governed by var-
ious key documents, and programming guidelines, outlined
below: June 2014 |Volume 5 |Article 413 |1
Naqvi et al. Evolving 50–50% bilingual pedagogy in Alberta
Section 11 of the School Act gives school boards the authority to
offer instruction in French or any other language, and Section 21
creates opportunities to learn other languages through alternative
programs (Alberta Education, 2000). However, the Alberta Guide
to Education states that all programs must offer a minimum of
50% of instructional time in an official language, i.e., English or
French (Alberta Education, 2012). Consequently, there is signif-
icantly less instructional time allotted to the additional language
within a bilingual program than within French Immersion which
can dedicate up to 100% of instructional time in French. Bilingual
programs operate at 50% English – 50% in the target language at
the elementary level, changing to 65% English – 35% in the target
language at the junior high level, and 75% English – 25% in the
target language at the senior high level, which is determined at the
discretion of the school jurisdiction offering the program.
All grades 1 to 12 bilingual programs share a common frame-
work, rationale and broad objectives as outlined in the respective
language arts programs of study. As these language programs
with entry points at kindergarten and grade 1, were designed for
learners with no previous knowledge of the language, bilingual
programs are accessible to all students irrespective of linguistic
heritage (Alberta Education, 2005). Functional fluency in the L2 is
targeted in each of the four competency areas (reading, writing, lis-
tening, and speaking), as well as the capacity for grade appropriate
content learning in the L2.
Each alternative bilingual program has evolved somewhat differ-
ently and has been influenced by the international relationships
that have been nurtured by both the province and each of
the school jurisdictions involved. For example, the 26 Spanish
bilingual program schools that are unique to the province of
Alberta in Canada, have ISA status based on a memorandum
of understanding (MOU) for Education Cooperation between
the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kingdom of Spain
and the Department of Education of the Province of Alberta.
This MOU identifies general English-Spanish bilingual program
expectations and strategies for advancing international relations
and understanding between cultures, including access to visiting
international teachers, resources, and professional development
(Alberta Education, 2006).
From the outset, the alternative bilingual language programs in
Alberta have been strongly impacted by the traditional assump-
tions and pedagogy of French Immersion, including strict segre-
gation of learning by language and subject, and by the maximum
exposure hypothesis implication that only 50% of time in L2 is a
deficiency to be managed relative to the learning of the L2 (Cum-
mins, 2001). The notion of creating a dual-language space for
explicitly comparing and contrasting languages has not been con-
sidered best pedagogical practice, with the view that translation or
code switching threatens L2 language growth (Cummins, 2000).
This article highlights challenges faced in light of the cur-
rent research and emphasizes the need for a pedagogical shift
from the monolingual solitude assumption toamoreflexible
approach to language pedagogy (Cummins, 1979,2005;Creese
and Blackledge, 2010;García and Sylvan, 2011;Ó Duibhir and
Cummins, 2012). Drawing upon emerging theory on integrated
models of language learning, i.e., the strongly supported view of
language-as-a-resource (Escamilla and Hopewell, 2009) and the
counterbalanced approach to language learning in content areas
(Lyster, 2011;Lyster et al., 2013), researchers discuss the need to
inform practice around evolving bilingual pedagogy and literacy
acquisition. They highlight the learning potential associated with
the linguistic interdependence principle (Cummins, 1981,2001),
and recognize metalinguistic awareness as being critical in the
learning process (Ó Duibhir and Cummins, 2012).
The Spanish bilingual program has encountered a series of
unique pedagogical constraints, which are partially rooted in the
monolingual solitude assumption (Cummins, 1979,2008;Howatt,
1984). First, by segregating languages of instruction into compart-
mentalized subject areas, English and Spanish are not integrated
into a shared learning space, which could otherwise enhance stu-
dents’ ability to express their thought processes and to deepen
knowledge creation across and between languages (Celic and
Seltzer, 2011). Second, when student curiosity is not peaked
through relevant cross-curricular work, motivation decreases
(Friesen and Jardine, 2009); which in turn conversely impacts
language learning (Cummins, 2011;Lyster, 2011). Third, the seg-
regation of languages and subject areas restrict teachers’ abilities to
plan inter-disciplinary inquiry projects, and to assess students’lit-
eracy skills considering the entire scope of their linguistic abilities
(Cummins,2005;Escamilla and Hopewell, 2010;Soltero-González
et al., 2010).
These pedagogical constraints were further validated at the
National Conference of the Association Canadienne des Pro-
fesseurs d’Immersion in October 2013, in which renowned Cana-
dian bilingual education researchers and advocates, Jim Cummins,
Sharon Lapkin, and Fred Genesee engaged in dialog with adminis-
trators of Canadian French Immersion education about the need
to update the monolingual instruction assumptions upon which
French Immersion has operated for nearly 50 years. Empirical
studies in recent years (see Dressler and Kamil, 2006 for a review)
have consistently promoted the idea of cross-lingual interde-
pendence. Results support Cummins’ longstanding position that
learners’ common underlying proficiency be explicitly and strate-
gically developed in order to maximize the cognitive, linguistic and
socio-affective capacity of bilingual learners. Cummins posits that
“if students are making cross-linguistic connections throughout
the course of their learning in a bilingual or immersion program,
why not nurture this learning strategy and help students to apply
it more efficiently?”(Cummins, 2014).
This perspective is further strengthened by Garcia’s idea of
translanguaging based on extensive research with Spanish-English
bilingual students and communities living in New York (Gar-
cía, 2009). According to Garcia, the blurred lines between the
languages of bilinguals make it important to consider the pedagog-
ical implications and potential cross-linguistic strategies that arise
from this interconnectedness. Moreover, within the context of
Frontiers in Psychology |Language Sciences June 2014 |Volume 5 |Article 413 |2
Naqvi et al. Evolving 50–50% bilingual pedagogy in Alberta
interlanguage awareness, effective instructional strategies promot-
ing two-way transfer across languages in mainstream multilingual
classrooms produce clear evidence of how students develop a crit-
ical awareness of the social and cognitive functions of languages
in their lives (García, 2009).
Although specific to the Spanish bilingual model in Alberta, the
proposed framework which promotes general beliefs and values
around teaching for transfer across languages is equally valid for
other multilingual learning and teaching contexts.
Between 2011 and 2013 a three part research study was carried out
through ongoing collaboration between researchers at the Univer-
sity of Calgary and a Calgary public school district (school-based
leaders and teacher practitioners in a primary Spanish bilingual
context). In this district, the Spanish bilingual program has grown
from approximately 125 students in kindergarten to grade 2 at
its inception in 2001, to 3002 students, kindergarten to grade
12 in 2013 (Calgary Board of Education, 2013). To date a vast
majority of the students entering the program have been native
English speakers who have no previous knowledge of the Span-
ish language, albeit previously noted national census data shows
changing trends in this regard. The continual program growth
experienced within the district provoked the need for action
research in various components of instructional planning and
The articulated research questions for each study are:
(1) How can the introduction of dual language books (DLB) be
used as an instructional strategy in the Spanish bilingual class-
room, for strengthening young emerging bilinguals’ explicit
awareness of both English and Spanish?
(2) How can authentic task design strengthen cross-linguistic
transfer and bilingual identities?
(3) (a) What are the critical principles of an evolving bilingual
pedagogy within a holistic learning context? (b) What is the
nature of professional learning support needed to leverage
such a shift in bilingual pedagogy?
Researchers examined the initial findings of each of the sub-
sequent action research studies in which teachers and students
explored the role of cross-linguistic transfer relative to engag-
ing content learning, literacy development in both languages, and
pedagogic approaches to second language acquisition. Emerging
trends from each of the studies’ key findings were then extrapo-
lated and further described in a proposed framework for bilingual
Dual language books are illustrated books, written in two lan-
guages: generally, one language is featured on a page, and the
facing page features the other language. By reading these languages
in tandem (Sneddon, 2009), it is possible to allow language learn-
ers to access a unique fund of knowledge and encourage transfer
of conceptual knowledge and skills across languages (Cummins
et al., 2005). This study explored the question: how can the intro-
duction of DLBs be used as an instructional strategy in the Spanish
bilingual classroom, for strengthening young emerging bilinguals’
explicit awareness of both English and Spanish?
Participants and methodology
The research involved 102 students in kindergarten and grade 1,
several grade 3 and grade 4 students selected as reading partners
and four teachers and parents. Informed consent was obtained for
the varying participants, based on district-level ethics protocols.
The researchers organized several professional development ses-
sions hosted by the school in which best practices were shared for
developing holistic bilingual literacy instruction. As part of these
sessions, DLBs were introduced as possible instructional tools
and further information was provided to the parent community
through letters and meetings. Several goals were identified: (a)
to establish targeted instructional strategies for enhancing met-
alinguistic awareness in pre-readers, (b) to draw in parents as
educational partners within the bilingual program, and (c) to
encourage older students in the school to participate as readers
in the DLB reading program.
Preparatory work to discuss the principles and functions of
DLB reading included a 1-hour session for parent readers and
mini-sessions for selected grade 3 and grade 4 advanced stu-
dent readers. Three 20 minute DLB reading sessions, filmed by
researchers and assistants, were held weekly and attended by the
parent readers. In the first reading, the teacher built vocabulary
in Spanish for the text and read a page in Spanish, followed by a
parent reading the same passage in English. In the second reading,
the parent participant read in Spanish (L2), and the teacher read
in English with a focus on explicit metalinguistic awareness. This
included vocabulary building, drawing on previous experience
with themes, and direct comparisons between the two languages.
This was aided by projecting the books using interactive white
boards (Smart board technology). In the third reading, the grade
3 and grade 4 students read the text with their younger buddies
(kindergarten or grade 1) in six small groups (each group was pro-
vided with a copy of the dual language text). The grade 3 and grade
4 students made observations, asked questions, modeled leader-
ship, and interacted with the kindergarten readers about the DLB
All sessions were recorded to capture conversation between
all participants on the similarities and differences between lan-
guages. Teacher participants, together with other colleagues on
the campus, analyzed the video recordings for evidence of metalin-
guistic awareness. These recordings were also used in professional
learning community discussions.
When students within the early years bilingual context are pro-
vided with strategic mini-readings of DLBs, students, teachers,
parents, and student readers have permission to explore common-
alities and differences between languages and initiate conversa-
tions about language as an object of thought and a resource for
enriching interdependent language proficiencies. Further, when
languages are displayed on the interactive whiteboard so that com-
parisons can be made as a class, students develop sophisticated
metalinguistic awareness, which supports not only strong second
language learning, but also enhances students’ knowledge of their June 2014 |Volume 5 |Article 413 |3
Naqvi et al. Evolving 50–50% bilingual pedagogy in Alberta
first language. During a reading of a DLB the teacher reflected
on the purposeful way that students engaged with both languages,
for example one student commented on the different number of
letters in the Spanish and English alphabet because the ñs (eh-
nyeh) in Spanish adds another sound and symbol to the Spanish
Results taken from video vignette analyses also demonstrated
development of leadership skills in student readers as they mod-
eled their bi-literacy and bilingual identity to younger participants.
Older students facilitated heightened language awareness and
comparison of similarities and differences in text between English
and Spanish through a series of noticing exercises. From the
professional learning perspective, as a result of the use of DLBs
teachers engaged in discussion and exploration of pedagogical
strategies to support the growth of metalinguistic awareness,
bi-literacy and the emerging bilingual identity of young readers.
As well as increasing parent community involvement in the
classroom as a result of volunteering as DLB readers, this pro-
cess provides the opportunity to coach parents in ways of using
bilingual texts to engage readers at home and to further pro-
mote metalinguistic awareness in young children. Students were
exposed to different accents in Spanish. One teacher described
how two mothers from different Hispanic backgrounds had to
verify certain words before reading.“So when we were reading the
Spanish both of them at different times had to take the turnip
book in particular. The lady who was from Mexico had to take and
she had to write down words that were written in Spanish because
she never heard them before. Same with Señora C from Chile she
identified words that she had never seen before.”
Through a single case study the researcher explored the question:
How can authentic task design strengthen cross-linguistic transfer
and bilingual identities? The aim was to determine what spe-
cific aspects of cross-linguistic transfer occurred when engaging
in research on the ancient civilization of Peru in L1 (English), and
transferring knowledge into the development of a modern Indian
Jones story in L2 (Spanish). The video production included cre-
ating characters and a plot, writing a script in small groups, and
acting in, filming and editing the video recordings in both L1
and L2.
Participants and methodology
Over a period of 6 months a multi-grade bilingual teacher, an
English speaking professional videographer and 23 grade 3 and
grade 4 students participated in this project. Data from the teacher
interviews, student learning artifacts, student responses and self-
reflections was collected and the results triangulated through the
lens of three main aspects of cross-linguistic transfer: conceptual
knowledge, linguistic elements, and metacognitive/metalinguistic
effects (Ó Duibhir and Cummins, 2012).
Analysis of the data revealed the effects of the teacher’s inten-
tionality in bridging conceptual knowledge between the program
of studies (Spanish) and the personal, lived experiences of the
students (English). Knowledge was created and shared using
extensive collaborative dialog, a key precursor to the writing pro-
cess, which students later worked on together in small groups.
The teacher extrapolated key outcomes in the program of stud-
ies for both languages, emphasizing the common processes for
social and cognitive development. She sought out how the stu-
dents could build their vocabulary in Spanish, while also learning,
building and investigating in English to broaden their knowledge
base. This approach positively influenced simultaneous, bilingual
literacy growth as well as the integration of learner identity across
and between Spanish and English.
Through analyzing student speaking parts of the video project,
an active interlanguage phase that includes awareness of content in
both languages is evident. The teacher regularly conducted confer-
ences on linguistic elements with small groups of students to build
vocabulary, grammatical structures and syntax as the transfer of
linguistic elements was weak (verb tenses, word gender, syntax,
and possession). These results support earlier work by Verho-
even (1994), in which syntactic functioning transfer is poor. These
conferences occurred strategically and in response to expressed
student needs. Students also showed sophisticated levels of aware-
ness about these linguistic elements. During student focus group
interviews and in reflection journals, they commented on how
their language had changed through more exposure to explicit
instruction in sentence structure and syntax.
Salient to the process of inquiry was the ongoing feedback that
the teacher requested of the students in their own, and each other’s
learning, including evaluating one another’s Spanish scripts, and
assessing aspects of oral language production through student-
created rubrics. A final reflection piece was given to students at
the conclusion of the project with questions posed in English,
such as: what new skills did you learn? and, how will these skills
help you in your life, or in another project? The teacher described
the metacognitive and metalinguistic awareness processes as being
integral to the building of self-awareness throughout content and
language learning.
Results of the case study confirm that students’ engagement
through meaningful, relevant inquiry is the most significant
indicator of their level of engagement with the second lan-
guage. Engagement is best supported through multi-disciplinary
tasks which intentionally enlist both L1 and L2 in the creation
of cross-linguistic knowledge transfer and ultimately enhance
bi-literacy and growth of bilingual identity in learners. Multi-
disciplinary tasks also facilitate strategic engagement of met-
alinguistic awareness and explicit development of features of
the L2.
The multi-faceted goals of this provincially mandated additive
bilingual model combined with the lack of an articulated ped-
agogy for this model, produced a complex pedagogic challenge
for bilingual program teachers and leaders. They attempted to
shift their professional practice to explore bilingual pedagogy,
and simultaneously to identify, nurture, and sustain the pro-
fessional learning process needed to advance this exploration.
Consequently this study addressed a two-part question: (a) what
Frontiers in Psychology |Language Sciences June 2014 |Volume 5 |Article 413 |4
Naqvi et al. Evolving 50–50% bilingual pedagogy in Alberta
are the critical principles of an evolving bilingual pedagogy within
a holistic learning context? and, (b) what is the nature of profes-
sional learning support needed to leverage such a shift in bilingual
Participants and methodology
Over a period of three school years a campus team of 25 kinder-
garten to grade four Spanish-English bilingual program teachers
participated in the study. Within the school’s Professional Learning
Community (PLC) structure, members of the team collaborated
in designing authentic inquiry-based learning tasks across the two
languages (L1 and L2), exploring the tasks with students, and then
collecting, sharing and analyzing artifacts and feedback with col-
leagues in the PLC context. The bilingual pedagogic challenges
and strategies and the collaborative professional learning needs
were tracked through several cycles of professional inquiry during
the 2010–2011 school year. Qualitative data was gathered using
the tools of individual teacher questionnaires, a teacher focus
group, and PLC reflections. As well, at the end of the year, four
grade 3 and grade 4 students were interviewed to validate and fur-
ther inform teacher perceptions about this experience. During the
next two school years 2011–2012 and 2012–2013, two individual
follow-up teacher video interviews were conducted, and addi-
tional professional learning community questions were generated
during a staff retreat. This additional data contributes to build-
ing a longitudinal perspective about this professional learning
Through the eyes of practicing bilingual teachers and corrobo-
rated by student voice, this study tracks shifts in practice from
traditional teacher-directed language learning to increased design-
for-learning that capitalized on activation of cross-linguistic
transfer. Teachers cited examples of increasing sophistication
in critical thinking and increased levels of intellectual engage-
ment as students made conceptual connections and applied skills
across languages. One teacher describes both languages as the
tools that support the content, which is the star of each con-
versation. She continued to say that sometimes students are not
aware that they are asking a question in Spanish. At the same
time, students articulated approaches and strategies for dealing
with language related challenges, which demonstrates increas-
ing awareness of their personal control of learning. For example
one student commented on the ease of learning when con-
nections existed between the classroom languages, and another
student articulated how her strategy to independently borrow
and read library books in L2 has positively impacted her Span-
ish pronunciation and her confidence to take risks in learning.
From the perspectives of teachers and students, engagement
in learning was being activated by the discovery of meaning-
ful connections across content and across languages. Further,
engagement facilitated by cross-linguistic transfer contributed
positively to the growing bilingual identity of students, as was
demonstrated by the increased amount of natural flow between
Teachers quickly identified pedagogic questions and challenges
relevant to a shift that focuses on cross-linguistic learning in a
holistic environment. This includes questions about task design
and strategies for cross-linguistic transfer, appropriate interactive
classroom structures for L2 practice and feedback, and prin-
ciples of instructed language learning as they pertain to the
effective role of L1 and access to extended time to L2. Teach-
ers were adamant that access to expert knowledge on current
pedagogy and collaborative exploration of professional learning
environments including, observation, peer coaching and resource
development are critical to the effective evolution of a 50–50%
bilingual pedagogy.
To summarize, this professional inquiry perspective data sup-
ports several key findings: (1) when students learn in holistic
contexts, there is strong evidence of cross-linguistic transfer, as
well as growing metalinguistic awareness and an evolving bilingual
identity, (2) teachers identified their need for articulating appro-
priate second language acquisition strategies within this context
and for facilitating student collaboration environments, (3) teach-
ers identified their need for access to expertise on second language
pedagogic approaches, and for regular collaborative inquiry and
peer-coaching opportunities.
As a result of ongoing research and collaboration between the
school jurisdiction and the University of Calgary, the authors pro-
pose a conceptual framework representing an evolutionary shift
in pedagogical practices in elementary bilingual schools. While
the principles highlighted below are specific to one elementary
Spanish bilingual school, they provide relevance to other bilingual
settings in Alberta as well. In the framework shown in Figure 1 the
researchers situate cross-linguistic transfer, rooted in the principle
of linguistic interdependence, at the center of bilingual learning.
Cross-linguistic transfer at the center facilitates a flexible, recip-
rocal and dynamic interplay between content, language and the
student learning experiences. When viewed as a theory of action,
the framework proposes that when learning in the bilingual con-
text focuses on two-way transfer across languages, then learners
will develop stronger metalinguistic awareness and enhanced bi-
literacy skills; while experiencing greater student engagement and
therefore nurturing bilingual identities.
Our data demonstrates that as teachers and students involved
in the three action research studies explored the potential
of cross-linguistic transfer in various learning contexts, they
experienced extensive examples of linguistic interdependence
and related learning effects. Below, in the words of teachers
and students, we present examples that illustrate the specific
elements of this conceptual framework in relation to these
In the professional learning study teachers repeatedly com-
mented that students were trying strategies without being asked,
and transferring the literacy skills from language to language.
Comments included: “Students are independently transferring
English story telling skills to relevant Spanish language con-
texts”; and “students spontaneously switched to debating in
Spanish during a news debate started in English.” Another teacher June 2014 |Volume 5 |Article 413 |5
Naqvi et al. Evolving 50–50% bilingual pedagogy in Alberta
FIGURE 1 |Conceptual framework for 50–50% bilingual pedagogy,
diagramming the centrality of cross-linguistic transfer in relation to
linguistic interdependence and bilingual learning.
commented on her own uncertainty as to whether she had
taught students the structuring of informative texts in Span-
ish or in English, she concluded by saying that ultimately it
did not matter because meaningful learning was happening in
both languages and the knowledge and skills taught or practiced
in one language were soon applied in other relevant learning
contexts. In the DLB study teachers provided similar exam-
ples where students were building a deeper knowledge of the
two languages: “It was really fun and delightful to see one
of my students,” “Well Señorita M. those two sounds are the
same when you hear them but they’re written differently in the
Teachers and students provided many examples of personal
engagement in either language when students participated in
meaningful tasks and in a risk-supported environment. One stu-
dent described his experience: “sometimes it just happens (in the
other language), it comes to mind and I switch.” A student par-
ticipating in the video literacy project said: “We came up with all
the ideas in our head in English, and it just came out in Spanish.
There was no – like – How do you fit this word in here?” Another
student shared: “at home in the middle of dinner, I speak some in
Spanish!” Children as young as 4 years old were negotiating vary-
ing colloquial terms for “school bus” in varying Spanish-speaking
countries, discussing the “wua-wua” in Cuba and the “camion” in
As the study progressed students were able to articulate specific
aspects of their own languaging which had changed since being
in the bilingual program. For example when reflecting on the
video literacy project a student said: “When I was in kindergarten
I used to say,” “Yo gusta.” Now that I am in grade 4, there is no
such thing. Now it’s “A mi me gusta.” Another student shared:“In
kindergarten I couldn’t say anything, now I can say paragraphs and
sentences, I can finally write in Spanish.” They reflect on how they
spoke initially and on how their understanding of grammatical
elements and usage had grown. As such, they recognized their
own growth along the interlanguage continuum. Another student
contrasted the two languages:“the easiest part of learning Spanish
is the sounds, the way you pronounce is the way you read it, but
in English there are funny sounds; you can guess what the word is
in English.”
Authentic tasks are at the heart of student engagement and when
cross-linguistic transfer is employed to deepen the learning expe-
rience, heightened student engagement and more self-directed
learning follows. As one teacher commented: “They didn’t ask
for help, they use their English skills...”; and from a students’ per-
spective: “Everything is connected in our class [topics in English
and Spanish], it helps us if it’s connected.” One teacher described
the level of ownership for learning that she was now experiencing
with her students: “They told me what to write on their report
cards and once they did that they owned it, they are engaged and
it leads to the adjustment cycle.” Within the context of the DLB
readings grade 3 and 4 students read to the grade 1 students in
Spanish and asked them to identify linguistic differences between
English and Spanish. “Today, in our last reading one group with
Jessica’s kids were umm Señora, we are, we have challenged these
grade ones today,we are challenging them to find five differences.”
Within the video literacy project, the teacher described her plan-
ning processes in this way: the students all began to think about
how they could tie in the Incan [people] with a story that sparked
their interest in unraveling ancient clues. We discussed what types
of personalities and characters they wanted to include. And we
held onto that piece that excited them in the theaters about Indi-
ana Jones, and with that they began to create their own story. I
began to think, most of the background information was con-
ducted in English. “How could we take that interest and start
to transform it, and to build their Spanish vocabulary around
We specifically refer to the Ó Duibhir and Cummins (2012)
report, in which extensive research highlights similar evidence to
support the view that:
“literacy-related skills and knowledge can be transferred across lan-
guages. When teachers encourage this transfer explicitly they make
learning more efficient for the learners and reinforce effective learning
strategies.” (p. 12).
This position is reinforced and mandated in the Alberta bilin-
gual programs of study, wherein the rationale explicitly addresses
cross-language competence, stating that many of the first language
skills of learners are transferable within the stated bilingual pro-
gramming context and that in acquiring a new language, these
skills can also be transferred to the first language (Alberta Edu-
cation, 2005). This document further identifies effective bilingual
Frontiers in Psychology |Language Sciences June 2014 |Volume 5 |Article 413 |6
Naqvi et al. Evolving 50–50% bilingual pedagogy in Alberta
learning environments as those where there is a significant rela-
tionship between various subject area experiences and where
connections to prior knowledge and experience are made (Alberta
Education, 2005).
Referring back to Ó Duibhir and Cummins (2012) and to the ratio-
nale in the Alberta bilingual programs of study, the researchers
advocate for a pedagogy building on connections across languages
(in this specific example Spanish and English). Our results provide
powerful examples of flexible approaches to bilingual pedagogy
that foster higher levels of literacy engagement in both languages,
as well as other relevant learning effects as described in Figure 1.
“When we free ourselves from exclusive reliance on monolin-
gual instructional approaches, a wide variety of opportunities
arise...that acknowledge the reality of, and strongly promote
cross-linguistic transfer (Cummins, 2007).
Through our findings we invite practitioners to reflect on the
proposed framework as a stepping stone to evolving a collabora-
tive pedagogy with cross-linguistic transfer at the center of this
work. Our results provide a strong argument for practitioners and
researchers to address the following recommendations:
(1) Allow for flexibility in scheduling so that inter-disciplinary
and inter-linguistic learning facilitate cross-linguistic transfer;
ultimately supporting all elements in the framework.
(2) Participate in further action research regarding current bilin-
gual pedagogy that is tailored to each specific learning context
and the potential programming similarities and differences
in each [e.g., elementary years (kindergarten to grade 6)
50% English-50% Spanish vs. junior high (grade 7 to grade
9) 65% English-35% Spanish], as well as further research
regarding metacognitive and metalinguistic awareness in this
cross-linguistic learning environment.
(3) Research approaches for explicitly addressing the sec-
ond language learning component within this bilingual
(4) Negotiate professional learning networks to participate and
collaborate in action research to further explore the dynamics
of inter-linguistic task design, with specific attention to feed-
back and practice in L2, and to address controversial elements
such as translanguaging and translation in the bilingual class-
room, while specifically outlining the role and purpose for
language usages in task design.
(5) Support recruitment and professional learning that assures
an aligned vision of appropriate pedagogy for the bilingual
We wish to gratefully acknowledge the participation of the research
team members, partner educators, parents, volunteer readers,
support staff and administration. As well we thank the stu-
dent participants who took part in the DLB reading program,
the video-literacy project, and the student interviews and ques-
tionnaires. Finally, we thank Professor Jim Cummins (Canada
Research Chair) at the University of Toronto for his interest in and
support of the work. This project was supported by the Calgary
Board of Education.
Alberta Education. (2000). “School act,” in Revised Statues of Alberta. Available at:
Alberta Education. (2005). Spanish Language Arts Kindergarten to Grade 6
(Program of Study). Available at:
Alberta Education. (2006). Memorandum of Understanding for Education Coop-
eration Between The Ministry of Education and Science of the Kingdom of
Spain and the Department of Education of the Province of Alberta. Available at:
Alberta Education. (2012). Guide to Education, ECS to Grade 12,
2012–2013. Available at:
Calgary Board of Education. (2013). School Enrolment Report 2013–2014. Available
Report.pdf.16, Attachment II
Celic, C., and Seltzer, K. (2011). Translanguaging: A CUNY-NYSIEB Guide for Edu-
cators. New York: CUNY – NYSIEB, The Graduate Center, The City University of
New York.
Creese, A., and Blackledge, A. (2010). Translanguaging in the bilingual class-
room: a Pedagogy for learning and teaching? Mod. Lang. J. 94, 103–115. doi:
Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic interdependence and the educational devel-
opment of bilingual children. Rev. Educ. Res. 49, 222–251. doi:
Cummins, J. (1981).“The role of primary language development in promoting edu-
cational success for language minority students,” in California State Department of
Education (Ed.), Schooling and Language Minority Students: A Theoretical Frame-
Wor k (Los Angeles: Evaluation, Dissemination and Assessment Center, California
State University), 3–49.
Cummins, J. (1996). Negotiating identities: education for empowerment in a diverse
society. Los Angeles, CA:California Association for Bilingual Education.
Cummins, J. (2000). Language, Power and Pedagogy: Bilingual Children in the
Crossfire. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Cummins, J. (2001). Negotiating Identities: Education for Empowerment in a Diverse
Society. Los Angeles, CA: California Association for Bilingual Education.
Cummins, J. (2005). A proposal for action; strategies for recognizing heritage lan-
guage competencies as alearning resource within the mainstream classroom. Mod.
Lang. J. 89, 585–592.
Cummins, J. (2007). Rethinking monolingual instructional strategies in multilin-
gual classrooms. Can. J. Appl. Linguist. 10, 221–240.
Cummins, J. (2008). “Teaching for transfer: challenging the two solitudes assump-
tion in bilingualeducation,” in Encyclopedia of Language and Education, Vol. 5,
Bilingual education, 2nd Edn, eds J. Cummins and N. H. Hornberger (Boston:
Springer), 65–75.
Cummins, J. (2009). Pedagogies of choice: challenging coercive relations of power
in classrooms and communities. Int. J. Biling. Educ. Biling. 12, 261–271.
Cummins, J. (2011). The Power of Pedagogy: Negotiating the Identities of Competen-
cies in the Language Classroom. Graz: ECML Conference.
Cummins, J. (2014). To what extent are canadian second language policies evidence-
based? Reflections on the intersections of research and policy. Front. Psychol.
5:358. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00358
Cummins, J., Bismilla, V., Chow, P., Cohen, S., Giampapa, F., Leoni, L., et al. (2005).
Affirming identity in multilingual classrooms. Educ. Leadersh. 63, 38–43.
Dressler, C., and Kamil, M. L. (2006). “First- and second-language literacy,” in
Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners. Report of the National Literacy
Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth, eds D. August and T. Shanahan
(Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers), 197–238.
Escamilla, K., and Hopewell, S. (2009). “Transitions to biliteracy: creating
positive academic trajectories for emerging bilinguals in the United States,
in International Perspectives on Bilingual Education Policy, Practice and Con-
troversy, ed. J. E. Petrovic (Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing),
Escamilla, K., and Hopewell, S. (2010). “Transitions to biliteracy: creating positive
academic trajectories for emerging bilinguals in the United States,” in Interna-
tional Perspectives on Bilingual Education: Policy, Practice, Controversy, ed. J. E.
Petrovic (Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing), 69–93. June 2014 |Volume 5 |Article 413 |7
Naqvi et al. Evolving 50–50% bilingual pedagogy in Alberta
Friesen, S., and Jardine,D. (2009). “21st century learning and learners,” in Prepared
for Western and Northern Canadian Curriculum Protocol by Galileo Educa-
tional Network. Available at:
2021st%20cent%20learning 2, no. 0 : 2
García, O. (2009). Bilingual Education in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective.New
York: Wiley-Blackwell.
García, O., and Sylvan, C. E. (2011). Pedagogies and practices in multilin-
gual classrooms: singularities in pluralities. Mod. Lang. J. 95, 385–400. doi:
Genesee, F., and Lindholm-Leary, K. (2007). “Dual language education in Canada
and the USA,” in Encyclopedia of Language and Education, Vol. 5, Bilin-
gual Education, ed. J. Cummins and N. Hornberger (Norwell, MA: Springer),
Holmes, M. (2008). An update on school choice in Canada. J. School Choice 2,
199–205. doi: 10.1080/15582150802138229
Howatt, A. (1984). A history of English language teaching. Oxford: Oxford University
Lyster, R. (2011). “Content-based second language teaching,” in Handbook of
Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning 2 (New York: Routledge),
Lyster, R., Quiroga, J., and Ballinger, S. (2013). The effects of biliteracy instruction
on morphological awareness. J. Immersion Content Based Lang. Educ. 1, 169–197.
doi: 10.1075/jicb.1.2.02lys
Ó Duibhir, P., and Cummins, J. (2012). Towards an integrated language curriculum
in early childhood and primary education (3–12 years). Research Report No. 16.
Dublin: National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. 1649–3362.
Padoan, P. (2012). “The evolving paradigm,”in OECD Obs erver 288 18. Available at:
Sneddon, R. (2009). Bilingual Books – Biliterate Children: Learning to Read through
Dual Language Books. London: Trentham Books.
Soltero-González, L., Escamilla, K., and Hopewell, S. (2010).“A bilingual perspective
on writing assessment: implications for teachers of emerging bilingual writers,
in Best Practices in ELL Instruction, eds L. Goufan and P. Edwards (New York:
Guilford Press), 222–244.
The Globe and Mail. (2012). New bilingualism taking hold in Canada.
taking-hold-in-canada/article4650408/ (accessed April 28, 2014).
Verhoeven, L. T. (1994). Transfer in bilingual development: the linguistic interde-
pendence hypothesis revisited. Lang. Learn. 44, 381–415. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-
Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that the research was conducted
in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed
as a potential conflict of interest.
Received: 16 February 2014; accepted: 19 April 2014; published online: 17 June 2014.
Citation: Naqvi R, Schmidt E and Krickhan M (2014) Evolving 50–50% bilin-
gual pedagogy in Alberta: what does the research say? Front. Psychol. 5:413. doi:
This article was submitted to Language Sciences, a section of the journal Frontiers in
Copyright © 2014 Naqvi, Schmidt and Krickhan. This is an open-access article dis-
tributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The
use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original
author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited,
in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is
permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Frontiers in Psychology |Language Sciences June 2014 |Volume 5 |Article 413 |8
... All of the papers that focus on classroom situations (Cummins, 2014;Manterola, 2014;Naqvi et al., 2014;Ntelioglou et al., 2014) point to the need to both value and draw on the linguistic resources of bilingual students. This is in spite of the fact that students' languages are traditionally separated in bilingual and immersion schools. ...
... This is in spite of the fact that students' languages are traditionally separated in bilingual and immersion schools. Naqvi et al. (2014) bilingual programs in Alberta. Naqvi et al. (2014) made use of a variety of tasks including dual language books, videos, and inquiry-based learning tasks with a range of students as a means of encouraging them to engage with the schools' two languages. ...
... Naqvi et al. (2014) bilingual programs in Alberta. Naqvi et al. (2014) made use of a variety of tasks including dual language books, videos, and inquiry-based learning tasks with a range of students as a means of encouraging them to engage with the schools' two languages. In response to Naqvi et al. (2014), Manterola (2014) discusses possibilities for integrating learners' languages in Basque-Spanish and Basque-French bilingual schools in the Basque Country. ...
... The problem of language ideologies, policies, and practices in bilingual 1 schools that treat languages as separate and hierarchical has become a central concern for education scholars as these approaches oppress students' and teachers' diverse languaging practices and identities (Cummins, 2007;de Mejía, 2006;García, 2013;Naqvi et al., 2014). In contrast, a heteroglossic view emphasizes the interconnectedness and fluidity of plurilinguals' languaging practices and linguistic identities while undermining hegemonic ideologies which valorize certain languages or language variations over others (García, 2013). ...
... They are often determined by the educational authorities in the country who may require certain subjects, such as social studies, be taught in the majority or official language(s) of the country (Sánchez, García & Solorza, 2018). In other cases, educational authorities may set guidelines for the percentage of time permitted for each instructional language (Naqvi et al., 2014). Yet, within these guidelines, there may be implementational spaces in which schools can soften the boundaries between languages through their language use policies. ...
Full-text available
From the lens of coloniality, monoglossic and hegemonic language ideologies and policies exist within public and private bilingual education in Colombia which oppress students’ and teachers’ diverse linguistic identities and languaging practices. This article draws on critical scholarship which recognizes the need to decolonize language education. As such, it includes a review of key literature from the fields of language ideologies, language policy, and classroom languaging practices to consider alternative approaches to bilingual education from a heteroglossic stance, including translanguaging and critical multilingual language awareness. The literature review suggests that within the Colombian context, hegemonic and monoglossic ideologies and practices are present within international private bilingual schools and through the National Bilingual Program. In addition, an underlying logic of coloniality exists in both public and private language education as both contexts hold foreign languages, expertise, and relationships as more valuable than their local equivalents. However, recent classroom-based research in Colombia indicates promising new heteroglossic approaches which not only acknowledge the benefits, but also support diverse linguistic identities and practices.
... Most students entering the program do not have German as a home language (Dressler 2012;Kampen Robinson, 2010). However, by the end of Grade 6, many bilingual program students have reached the A2 level ("basic speaker") of the Common European Framework of References for Language (Naqvi, Schmidt, & Krickhan, 2014). Thus, the German bilingual programs in Alberta are conceptualized as content-based language instruction at a beginner level of language proficiency in German. ...
... Translanguaging as a pedagogical practice is used in bilingual programs in both strategic and naturalistic ways (Dressler, 2012;Naqvi et al., 2014;Zhang & Guo, 2017). These practices, which draw upon all of the linguistic resources of the students during a given lesson (Lewis, Jones, & Baker, 2012), have been shown to support meaning making and identity construction (Cummins, 2014;Dressler, 2018). ...
25 free copies: Fostering target language use in second language classrooms is a persistent challenge for teachers. A lack of specific guidelines in curriculum documents, inexperience with a wide variety of pedagogical approaches, and the tendency to default to English have been documented as reasons behind this challenge. Strategies from the neurolinguistic approach (NLA) show promise for fostering target language use in a variety of contexts in Canada and abroad. This study examined the use of NLA strategies in one German bilingual program in western Canada. The oral modelling sequence and literacy loop were implemented by six K−6 teachers during three sets of two intensive (German-only) weeks during a collaborative action research project over the course of one year. Nexus analysis served as a conceptual framework for analysis of interview data. Teachers reported that the strategies led to more structured, purposefully planned, collaborative learning opportunities. Students quickly picked up the NLA oral modelling sequence structure, which allowed teachers to promote meaningful communication. Teachers used the literacy loop to scaffold target language use in both oral and written modes. Teachers collaborated in planning and teaching in grade teams, with buddy classes, and as a German teaching team. These results suggest the applicability of these strategies for other dual-language programs to foster target language use.
... Considering the parallel histories between French immersion and minority-language Bilingual Programs, one might expect similar concerns to ones that have prompted researchers to design interventions (Lyster, Collins, & Ballinger, 2009;Swain & Lapkin, 2008). However, Bilingual Program teachers cannot be assumed to share the same L2 pedagogy training as French immersion teachers, since they often have no L2 pedagogical training and have the unique challenge of two separate Language Arts classes in the interaction order (Dressler, 2012;Naqvi, Schmidt, & Krickhan, 2014). Neither an explicit knowledge of immersion pedagogy nor knowledge of the flexible bilingualism practices (see Byrd Clark, 2012) would be a part of their bilingual teacher training. ...
... While this study is limited in its generalizability due to its focus on one classroom, the similarity between the Bilingual Program in this school and other Bilingual Programs suggests that these conclusions are applicable beyond the walls of this school. These findings point to a need to work with existing professional learning communities, an approach also used by Naqvi et al. (2014). Frau Benz reported that "we don't often talk about how do you do your German," but the need exists for teachers to explore their understanding of immersion pedagogy as a group and to co-construct knowledge around strategies and innovations in immersion pedagogy. ...
Bilingual language education in Canada comprises Bilingual Programs in minority languages and programs in official languages (e.g., French immersion). However, pedagogy in Bilingual Programs has not been studied to the same depth as it has been in French Immersion, so little is known about the teaching practices within them. Immersion pedagogy, the integration of content and language education, fosters teaching practices that encourage language development but sometimes also monolingual instructional practices that discourage the use of flexible bilingualism strategies. This research in an early years German Bilingual Program classroom examines what teachers understand as “immersion pedagogy.” This nexus analysis draws on data from curriculum documents, classroom observation, interviews, and stimulated recall sessions. The rationale for this study is to address the lack of studies examining teaching practices within Bilingual Programs as a unique form of bilingual education. The findings reveal teachers’ understanding of immersion pedagogy as content- and language-integrated instruction with strong discourses in place that include the separation of languages. The conclusions shed light on the need for teachers to further explore their understanding of immersion pedagogy and identify potential strategies and innovations to explore in-school
... Zielsprache zugunsten einer mehrsprachigen Perspektive öffnen (siehe z.B. Candelier, 2008;Gajo, 2009;Naqvi, Schmidt & Krickhan, 2014) und die Sprachlernerfahrung sowie die mehrsprachigen Praktiken der Lernenden […] als Lernpotenzial erkennen » (Hu, 2016, S. 11). ...
This contribution deals with the views of in-service school teachers about a good lesson during a four-week period of teaching practice for future teachers as part of their bachelor’s degree and explains the correlation between the teaching practice and the didactics of German as a foreign language and foreign languages didactics in general. After describing the organization of the teaching practice and the theoretical background of the teacher training courses at the university, the contribution goes on to investigate and discuss what the student teachers put into practice in their lesson planning. It emerges that the interviews with the teachers’ mentors about a good language lesson contain both pedagogical as well as didactic themes and that the professionalization of student teachers can differ depending on the in-service teacher.
... The same author claims that new opportunities appear for bilingual instructional strategies in order to promote cross-linguistic transfer in bilingual students. This is the case, for instance, of translation, dual language book reading and the resource to students' L1 in very precise stages in the production of dual language identity texts (Naqvi et al., 2014). ...
Full-text available
El objetivo de este artículo es ofrecer una reflexión sobre la didáctica integrada de lenguas en el contexto de la educación plurilingüe vasca, basada en un análisis de una muestra de materiales didácticos. En el presente trabajo se ha focalizado en algunos aspectos de la producción de géneros textuales expositivos, tal y como se proponen en unidades didácticas de euskera, español e inglés de primero de secundaria. Se ha analizado, desde un punto de vista textual, el tratamiento de un aspecto gramatical específico como los conectores u organizadores textuales. Los resultados señalan que las unidades analizadas se basan en diversos criterios comunes y coordinados, lo que supone un avance hacia la didáctica integrada de lenguas. Asimismo, el análisis revela que cada unidad didáctica refleja una tradición distinta de la enseñanza del texto y de la gramática. El artículo concluye subrayando los retos derivados del hecho de que existan diferencias conceptuales y metodológicas en el tratamiento de la gramática. Estas diferencias afectan a la explotación del género textual como recurso didáctico, así como a la implementación de una didáctica integrada de lenguas.
... The same author claims that new opportunities appear for bilingual instructional strategies in order to promote cross-linguistic transfer in bilingual students. This is the case, for instance, of translation, dual language book reading and the resource to students' L1 in very precise stages in the production of dual language identity texts (Naqvi et al., 2014). ...
Full-text available
Enseñar y evaluar la competencia oral puede resultar más sencillo en los nuevos escenarios de aprendizaje mediante herramientas TIC. Aquí se muestra una experiencia de aula cuyo objetivo es verificar que con los nuevos géneros discursivos surgidos en la sociedad digital del aprendizaje, como el tutorial, se contribuye a dar sentido y contextualizar el desarrollo de la competencia oral, así como, que el docente es el que debe presentar escenarios de aprendizaje y planificarlos. El profesor debe descubrir y asumir qué competencias y rol debe desarrollar y con este fin enfocar su formación. Los nuevos escenarios digitalizados en el aula no deben estar exentos de metodología para poder concretar los objetivos de aprendizaje en la competencia oral.
... In Calgary, Spanish/English and Chinese/English bilingual programs are offered in some elementary and middle-high schools. Research has been carried out within the context of these programs (e.g., Naqvi, Schmidt, & Krickhan, 2014;Wu, 2005), and comparisons of provincial standardized-test performance suggest that students in these programs are performing at least as well as their peers in the same school districts and across the province (e.g., Wu, 2005). However, formal evaluations have not been conducted to thoroughly assess academic outcomes in both languages. ...
Full-text available
This study examined the performance of Mandarin-speaking students in a K–Grade 4 50/50 Chinese/English bilingual program. The program was intended to facilitate students’ learning of English and their adjustment to English-medium instruction within the school context. The bilingual-program students were compared to students from Mandarin-speaking backgrounds whose school instruction was conducted totally in English but who attended a weekly 2.5-hour Chinese language class conducted outside of the regular school day through the International Languages Program funded by the Ontario government. Students’ abilities in phonological awareness, vocabulary knowledge, morphological awareness, and word reading were measured. Results showed that students in the bilingual program who received less English instruction overall performed comparably in all English measures to their peers in the English-only programs. Some differences in favour of the bilingual-program students were observed in Chinese language and literacy measures, specifically in character recognition. Students in the bilingual program performed above grade norms on standardized measures of English literacy skills and in the Grade 3 provincial standardized testing of English reading and writing abilities.
Full-text available
The promotion of language ideologies, policies and pedagogies that treat languages as separate and hierarchical has become a central concern for critical education scholars. In this case study, I explore how school actors at Colegio Colombiano (CC), an international school in Colombia, engaged with critical approaches to bi/multilingual education to leverage the fluid identities and languaging practices of plurilingual teachers and students. In my first data chapter, I place CC within its larger educational context by showing how a logic of coloniality informs both public and private K-12 foreign language education in Colombia. This logic of coloniality reflects a hierarchy of actors within the field of foreign language education in Colombia with external international organizations holding significant power and influence over local priorities. I build on these findings to call international schools into current conversations about decolonizing language education in Colombia. In my second data chapter, I consider how school actors’ language ideologies impacted the creation and enactment of language policies at CC. I describe a spectrum to show how faculty demonstrated a significant shift away from hegemonic ideologies and oppressive language policies through an increasing recognition of the importance of Spanish. While explicit messages about English as superior were no longer officially promoted at CC, colonialistic ideologies and policies persisted which valorized English, denigrated Spanish, and completely ignored other societal and home languages. In my final data chapter, I explore how teachers and students engaged with translanguaging pedagogies. While many teachers expressed a desire to leverage their and their students’ plurilingual repertoires they felt limited by significant obstacles, including the school’s strict model of language separation. Elementary students generally demonstrated a willingness to engage with translanguaging pedagogies, while older students expressed a complex resistance as they negotiated their bilingual identities. In my concluding chapter, I return to the identified logic of coloniality to discuss how international school communities can unveil and interrogate colonialistic understandings of languages, language users and languaging practices. I propose the Decolonizing International Multilingual Education (DIME) framework as a tool to guide schools in the work of decolonizing their language programs.
Learning about another educational context is often a stated institutional goal of pre-service study abroad. However, living abroad is no guarantee that pre-service teachers will reflect upon their language learning and teaching experiences through the lens of future teaching. Drawing from a large study of reflective practices during study abroad, from preparation to debriefing, we use nexus analysis to focus on how five pre-service teachers living and volunteer-teaching abroad over nine weeks reflected upon their learning and teaching experiences through blogs. We ask: “What study abroad participant learning about language teaching and learning emerges through blogging?” Despite disparate teaching specializations, the participants often found themselves learning firsthand about the opportunities and challenges of language learning. They used blogs to reflect upon knowledge, skills, and attributes needed for language teaching. These results reveal that learning during study abroad can advance the teaching competencies necessary to working with diverse learners in future classrooms.
Full-text available
In How People Learn, Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) synthesized research regarding the optimal conditions that foster learning; a follow-up volume edited by Donovan and Bransford (2005) examines the application of these learning principles to teaching history, mathematics, and science. Bransford and colleagues emphasize the following three conditions for effective learning: engaging prior understandings and background knowledge, integrating factual knowledge with conceptual frameworks by encouraging deep understanding, and supporting students in taking active control over the learning process. Any instructional intervention that claims scientific credibility should reflect these principles, which are particularly important when it comes to English language learners. Prior knowledge refers not only to information or skills previously acquired in formal instruction but also to the totality of the experiences that have shaped the learner's identity and cognitive functioning. In classrooms with students from linguistically diverse backgrounds, instruction should explicitly activate this knowledge.
Full-text available
THE PAPER ADDRESSES THE INTERSECTIONS BETWEEN RESEARCH FINDINGS AND CANADIAN EDUCATIONAL POLICIES FOCUSING ON FOUR MAJOR AREAS: (a) core and immersion programs for the teaching of French to Anglophone students, (b) policies concerning the learning of English and French by students from immigrant backgrounds, (c) heritage language teaching, and (d) the education of Deaf and hard-of hearing students. With respect to the teaching of French, policy-makers have largely ignored the fact that most core French programs produce meager results for the vast majority of students. Only a small proportion of students (<10%) attend more effective alternatives (e.g., French immersion and Intensive French programs). With respect to immigrant-background students, a large majority of teachers and administrators have not had opportunities to access the knowledge base regarding effective instruction for these students nor have they had opportunities for pre-service or in-service professional development regarding effective instructional practices. Educational policies in most jurisdictions have also treated the linguistic resources that children bring to school with, at best, benign neglect. In some cases (e.g., Ontario) school systems have been explicitly prohibited from instituting enrichment bilingual programs that would promote students' bilingualism and biliteracy. Finally, with respect to Deaf students, policy-makers have ignored overwhelming research on the positive relationship between academic success and the development of proficiency in natural sign languages, preferring instead to leave uncorrected the proposition that acquisition of languages such as American Sign Language by young children (with or without cochlear implants) will impede children's language and academic development. The paper reviews the kinds of policies, programs, and practices that could be implemented (at no additional cost) if policy-makers and educators pursued evidence-based educational policies.
Currently, heritage language teaching to school-aged students is carried out both within public schools (e.g., in foreign language classes and bilingual/dual language programs) and in community-supported out-of-school programs. In all of these settings, the teaching of heritage languages is marginalized with respect to funding provisions, number of languages involved, and number of students who participate. For example, only a handful of languages are taught in foreign language classes or in bilingual/dual language programs. Within the mainstream classroom, students' knowledge of additional languages has typically been viewed as either irrelevant or as an impediment to the learning of English and overall academic achievement. Many students continue to be actively discouraged from using or maintaining their home languages. Not surprisingly, there is massive attrition of students' heritage language competence over the course of schooling. This paper articulates some directions for challenging the squandering of personal, community, and national linguistic and intellectual resources within the main stream classroom.
This classroom intervention study investigated the effects of biliteracy instruction on Grade 2 students’ morphological awareness in French and English. Three pairs of partner teachers (French/English) participating in a professional development project co-designed and implemented biliteracy tasks across their French and English classes, which together comprised a total of 80 students identified as dominant in either French or English or as French-English bilinguals. The biliteracy instruction integrated a linguistic focus on derivational morphology with a thematic focus on illustrated storybooks. Before and after the intervention, separate measures of morphological awareness in French and English were administered to a subsample of their students ( n = 45) as well as to a comparison group of students ( n = 20) not receiving the instruction. The experimental group significantly outperformed the comparison group in French, but not in English, yet when students’ language dominance was accounted for in the English measure, English-dominant students in the experimental group significantly outperformed their counterparts in the comparison group.
The papers in this special issue of of International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism edited by Shelley K. Taylor and Mitsuyo Sakamoto cover a wide range of educational contexts and issues and they draw on a variety of disciplinary perspectives to interpret the phenomena they analyze. As the editors point out in their introduction, the common thread linking these analyses is the intersection between language and power. In some contexts, minority communities are the victims of overt violence exercised either by racist groups within society. In other cases, coercive power operates through discourses that position individuals and groups in subordinated relationships. The papers by Lee and Norton, and Morgan all analyze how individuals and/or educators can challenge coercive relations of power operating through these discourses to re-position themselves as agents in their own identity formation. The disciplinary focus shifts in Mayer's paper to address the psycholinguistic challenges faced by Deaf and hard-of-hearing students in appropriating the academic language competencies (in both first and second languages) necessary for school success. Although the primary focus in these papers is on psycholinguistic and pedagogical issues, societal power relations are never far from the surface. The devaluation of community languages (e.g. American Sign Language in the case of the Deaf community) in the wider society results in ambivalence among parents and educators about whether these languages should be strongly supported in home and school.