Bilingual Education in Early Childhood

The following page contains information about different types of bilingual education found in classrooms in the United States. Immersion, submersion, and dual/two-way language methods are compared and discussed.




Bilingual Education in Early Childhood Classrooms









Bilingual Education, a teaching method where two languages are taught concurrently, was first implemented in the United States in the 19th century. Bilingual Education is unique in that it can be catered to teach English Language Learners English while still preserving their native language and culture or to teach English speakers a second language. Proponents of Bilingual Education argue that this method of language instruction is effective because literacy skills are transferable between languages. For example, a student who learns to read in Spanish can read in general making for an easier transition when learning how to read in English. In 1968, the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 was passed nationwide with the purpose of providing federal funds to school districts, in the form of competitive grants, to promote bilingual programs to benefit students with limited English speaking proficiency.

Due to globalization in today’s world, it is very common to have students from multiple cultural backgrounds in one classroom. Bilingual education provides a means of support for this increase in diversity.





Types of Bilingual Education

Immersion: Students are placed in a classroom and instructed completely in a foreign language. While this style’s main goal is bilingualism, there is a greater focus on the practice of the foreign language.

Submersion: Students in this type of classroom are instructed in the majority tongue, in most cases, the English language. The goal is to become fluent in this main language fostering monolingualism.

Two-Way/Dual Language: This style of bilingual education is unique in that both the majority and minority languages are taught every day. There is no primary focus language, rather, full bilingualism is encouraged as the goal.



There are differing views as to the best way, if any, of utilizing this method of instruction in the classroom. Some people argue that children should be taught solely in English since English is the primary language of the American culture. However, with increased immigration and a more highly globalized society, some believe it is important for children to grow up to be cultured global citizens. Children retain information better at a young age, therefore the earliest introduction of new languages is key to becoming bilingual.

































Information Compiled by: Kelley Lach and Vanessa Salgado, Early Childhood Education, Spring 2014