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Strategies to Teach in a Dual Language Classroom

To balance the needs of students in two-way dual language programs, teachers must use a variety of instructional materials and strategies that not only respond to different learning modalities but also varying language proficiency levels. Providing multiple opportunities for interaction and oral language expression in both languages is essential in the dual language classroom.

Having students work in bilingual pairs or small groups allows them to practice their language skills in a low-risk setting while at the same time explore academic content. By working together on a single activity that extends and reinforces a targeted skill, students develop confidence and are more willing to take risks in the classroom. Whether students are discussing and completing a graphic organizer, playing a game at a center, or working on a project together, they are practicing language, processing content, and learning from each other.

Other strategies that facilitate oral language acquisition (and give teachers valuable information on student understanding) in the dual language classroom include:

Especially effective for language learners, this strategy gives students the time to process the information before responding.

Turn and Talk
Using this strategy, teachers pair less proficient speakers with students who have a little more language and pose an open-ended question. All students have a chance to verbalize their thinking and talk at a peer level, which scaffolds understanding and makes content accessible for language learners.

Partner Conversations
After listening to a story, students partner up and retell the story in sequence with as much detail as they can remember.

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