Giving Students a Voice

An Inside Look at Bilingual Education

Why is Bilingual Education Important for everyone?

As we prepare to educate our youth with 21st century skills in this global economy we must first acknowledge and strengthen the diversity that exists within our own borders so we are better equipped to support each other and expand by creating global collaborations and partnerships. We do this by first giving our students a voice.

Did you know ... ?

Did you know that more than 5 million residents in Texas speak a language other than English at home? There are 145 languages spoken in Houston alone (U.S. Census, 2015). Below you will find some interesting facts about one school district in Houston, Fort Bend ISD. You will also see how languages affect each and every state within the United States and why we need to invest in high quality bilingual education.

The Benefits of a Bilingual Brain (Nacamulli, 2015)

The benefits of a bilingual brain - Mia Nacamulli

Houston's Critical Shortage

According to the Department of Education (2015), Texas is currently experiencing a critical shortage of bilingual & ESL teachers. "The cultural and linguistic diversity in today’s classrooms creates unprecedented demands for teachers to develop knowledge and skills which meet the needs of the ESL learners in their classes" (Abbott, Aberdeen, & Dunn, 2012, p.13). How prepared are our teachers? Do we have adequate programs in place? "Teachers receiving training in bilingual education are provided specialized skills... all teachers obtaining generalized preparation receive minimal training in multicultural curricula, and even less in the area of bilingual education" (Clark & Flores, 1997, p. 338).

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart" - Nelson Mandela.

Houston's Bilingual Programs

  • Pull Out Classroom Instruction
  • Content-Based Classroom Instruction
  • Dual Language Immersion Programs
  • Fort Bend ISD has 15 bilingual elementary campuses
  • Fort Bend ISD has 38 Elementary, 13 Middle Schools and 13 High Schools that offer ESL programs

(Fort Bend ISD, 2015)


  • Transitional Bilingual Programs
  • Dual Language Immersion Programs
  • Bilingual Cultural Heritage Program
  • Houston ISD has 26 Elementary, 2 Middle Schools, 2 K-8 Academies and one High School dual language programs

(Houston ISD, 2015)

According to Galloway, Gómez, Irby, Lara-Alecio, and Rodriguez (2004) the majority of Texas students are served in transitional bilingual programs (49%) or ESL programs (38%). Both of these programs are considered deficient models. "Research studies have indicated that academic achievement [in dual language programs] is very high for both language majority and language minority children." (p. 38). Student pull out ESL is the most common program for ESL and it is the most expensive and least effective program model (p. 36).

One way to successfully support Bilingualism is with Dual Language Programs

Dual Language 2015

Proposals Moving Forward

In a recent study done by Abbot, Aberdeen, & Dunn (2012) teachers identified six main professional development needs and concerns. They are as follows a) cultural competency, b) practical teaching strategies, c) ESL teaching techniques, d) communication skills for dealing with ESL students and their parents e) techniques for teaching multilevel classes and f) knowledge of appropriate resources for ESL learners (p. 8).

Bilingual Education Overview

According to the U.S. Census (2015), over 1/3 of Houston residents speak a language other than English at home (US Census, 2015). Educators need to focus on creating and maintaining comprehensive, high quality ESL programs and advocating for them. Everyone is affected by our nations bilingual citizens. Schools must begin to support English Language Learners and encourage others to support bilingual education. The benefits bilingualism has on both our domestic and global economies is immense. As we prepare our youth with 21st century skills, we must also change our schools to include outstanding bilingual programs and educate our communities on how bilingual education is essential.

Speaking One Language is Expected. Being bilingual changes lives. Give Students a Voice.

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