Biliteracy Instruction

I personally believe that biliteracy instruction is an important part of education that everyone should be exposed to. Dual immersion is a program I truly believe in because of the many advantages to biliteracy. As Mora said, ‘‘the advantage these students enjoy is that two-way program teachers can understand them when they speak English and translate or paraphrase their English questions and statements into the Spanish…’’ (Mora, 2016, p. 16). The students can still communicate the best way they can when in a dual immersion class, regardless of the target language. During both of my teaching experiences, I witnessed teachers that translated or rephrased what the students were struggling with communicating. I saw huge improvements and a gain of confidence within the students. Without this, the students would feel uncomfortable speaking in the target language. I feel that in a full immersion class, the student would just be quiet because he/she cannot use their full repertoire of linguistic development. We must encourage them to use everything they know, even if it involves them using their native language

Biliteracy education is not a “black and white” issue. There is a lot of gray area. Freeman and Freeman expressed my feelings when they wrote, “retomando ideas desarrolladas durante el periodo de la educación progresista, muchos educadores de la lectoescritura comenzaron a considerar la lectura y escritura como dinámica, interactiva y social.” (Freeman & Freeman, 2009, p. 93). There are many moving parts when teaching reading and writing. Language is dynamic and always evolving. So we must take that into account during biliteracy instruction. We cannot just teach by lecturing and memorization. Just like language, we must also be dynamic and be interactive. This is also why I love the concept of teaching through a “workshop model” and “inquiry”. It makes learning a language as dynamic and interactive as the language itself is.

During my second teaching experience, I created a lesson about homophones. The original plan was to lecture the students and give them examples while they wrote notes on their notebooks. The way I modified this idea was by writing an interactive “choose your own adventure” legend on Google Slides. The students were learning about legends, so I thought we could incorporate that into the grammar lesson. On this story, the students could pick what happened next on the story and every slide had a different set of homophones. The students had to (collaboratively) figure out what each homophone meant and share it with the classroom. The level of social interaction relevant to the material was impressive. If we had just lectured and have them write the words in a notebook, I do not think that the students would have had as much fun as they did while learning. When assessing the students, they received some of the highest scores they had received on an assessment. The student had internalized what a homophone was and could figure out what they meant through context.

Kerper Mora, J. (2016). Spanish language pedagogy for biliteracy programs. San Diego, CA: Montezuma Publishing.

Freeman, Y. S., & Freeman, D. E. (2007). La enseñanza de la lectura y la escritura en español e inglés en salones de clases bilingües y de doble inmersión (2nd ed.). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.