Second Language Programs for English Learners
There are a number of instructional program models available for English learner students throughout the
nation. The programs typically range from English-only instruction to bilingual instruction models, or may include English
instruction with support in students’ primary language. This article will briefly outline the following program options for
second language learners: English Language Mainstream; Structured English Immersion; Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE);
Developmental Maintenance Bilingual Education; and, Dual Immersion bilingual education.
English Language Mainstream Programs
English Mainstream classrooms are the
English learner students with less than reasonable fluency in English
are sometimes placed in Structured English Immersion (SEI) programs. Similar to the English Language Mainstream program, the
goals of SEI programs are monolingualism and assimilation. SEI programs are specifically designed to facilitate rapid English
language acquisition in order to transition language minority students into English Mainstream classes as soon as possible.
Students placed in such programs are generally at the beginning levels of English language proficiency and are provided sheltered
content instruction by teachers ideally trained in both second language acquisition. Although in some programs teachers may
use the students’ primary language for clarification, typically little or no primary language support exists. The main difference
between an SEI program and an English Language Mainstream program is that SEI programs consist exclusively of English learners
at the lower levels of proficiency, while English Language Mainstream programs may contain native English-speakers.
Transitional Bilingual Education Programs (TBE)
Primary language instruction,
Early-exit Transitional Bilingual Education and Late-exit Transitional Bilingual Education. Early-exit Transitional bilingual
education programs provide primary language instruction for approximately two years until students are transitioned into monolingual
English instruction around second or third grade. Students in Late-exit Transitional bilingual education programs receive
primary language instruction for a minimum of forty percent of the instructional day until they are transitioned into English-only
instruction around the sixth grade. A number of researchers have found that well-implemented Transitional bilingual education
programs have been found to be more effective in the long-term than either English Mainstream or SEI programs.
Developmental Maintenance Bilingual Education (DBE)
A less common form of
Dual Immersion Programs
Dual Immersion programs, sometimes referred to
(i.e., Spanish, etc) is taught to students for ninety percent of the school day starting in kindergarten. With each additional
school year, English is increased by ten percent until students receive instruction for fifty percent of the day in the minority
language. Once students receive fifty percent of their instruction in the minority language and fifty percent in English,
they maintain equal percentages of the two languages throughout the subsequent years of their schooling. In 50/50 programs
the minority language is taught for fifty percent of the instructional day at each grade level beginning in kindergarten and
Regardless of program option, English language learners must be provided access to grade-level content standards. Teachers
in all language programs have a dual obligation: to provide effective English language develop (ELD) while at the same time
exposing students to grade-level content and concepts. Teachers must use a variety of ELD and SDAIE strategies in order to
make content comprehensible to students at all proficiency levels of English language development.