Bilingual teachers provide instruction in two languages. Students are often English-language learners who speak a different language at home, although foreign-language immersion programs exist and operate using similar guidelines. These teachers offer instruction in two languages in all the required school subjects, including math and writing. The goal is to help students learn a second language quickly, while preserving the native language and cultural heritage.
Bilingual teachers are entrusted with the purpose of educating students in general education subjects, despite language barriers. Some programs may place an emphasis on speedy English-language mastery and a quick transition to the general education classroom, whereas other programs may emphasize mastery of both languages alongside general education. Bilingual teachers uphold the same standards as the general classroom, but use different techniques and methods for teaching. For example, they may use the student's cultural heritage as content to support learning.
Bilingual teachers work hard to maintain a myriad of relationships that help to support the bilingual students. This includes communicating and meeting with parents, educating school staff and administrators on the needs of bilingual students and reaching out to the community. These relationships are important, as the student only spends a portion of his day in the bilingual classroom. These specialist teachers communicate how others can help students continue to learn and develop -- outside the classroom -- at home and in real-world situations.
The classroom curriculum must be culturally appropriate for bilingual learners. Teachers make sure this is the case, and may have to supplement or create their own curriculum. In addition to overseeing the curriculum, bilingual teachers coordinate other resources that are needed to build a classroom of just the right stuff for students. The environment should be nonthreatening and interesting, filled with real-world materials, dictionaries and books, inviting spaces and real people to interact with. They may also collaborate with specialists and implement individual educational plans.
To continually improve teaching effectiveness and each student's learning, bilingual teachers must continually assess and evaluate students individually. This includes evaluating progress in general subjects, assessing language proficiency and soliciting feedback on teaching style. The data is collected and shared with other staff, the administration and parents, as well as evaluated for continuous improvement.
Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.