What is Transitional Bilingual Education?

A teaching approach in which students are taught to read (or even other subjects) using their native language for a couple of years before the learning transitions to English instruction. You should check out our new grade calculator. In a Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) program, the native language of the learners is used to support their content learning and development of English and is gradually phased out of instruction as learners’ English proficiency increases. 

TBE programs enroll English learners who speak a common native language. You should check out our new high school GPA calculator. These learners might vary in a few other vital areas, including home language literacy experiences, individual learning needs, country of origin, and level of English proficiency. TBE programs may begin or end at any grade level based on individual students’ needs and performance patterns and according to district policy.

TBE programs respond flexibly to learners at varying English proficiency levels who are proficient in their native language. Typically, these programs’ initial literacy and content instruction are in the learner’s native language, paired with sequential and systematic ESL instruction. Instructors leverage learners’ cultural and linguistic resources to support literacy and language development and grade-appropriate content learning. The amount of time utilized for content instruction in English and the home language varies based on the learners’ grade levels and English language proficiency. The home language instruction’s ratio progressively decreases as English instruction’s ratio increases, until instruction in the native language is completely phased out.

Key features of TBE programs include:

  •         Clear articulation of the use and role of learners’ native language and English to support literacy and language development proficiency in grade-level content
  •         Integration of learners in the program to the maximum extent possible without undermining their education’s integrity
  •         High academic expectations for all learners

Two key models of instruction are used within the TBE classroom depending on the learners’ language proficiency.

Early-exit model: The main objective of this model is to expedite the second language’s acquisition so that English learners can be integrated into classrooms with native English speakers. This model uses English learners’ primary language to develop their English language competency.

Late-exit model: The key objective of this model is to facilitate comprehension of all core content topics while maintaining the use of the learners’ native language. This model allows a more extensive transitional period during which pupils learn the second language at a slower pace. Here, more attention and time is given to mastering literacy in the learners’ native language to support learning in the second language. Students who might have interrupted or limited formal education need more time. A gradual transition of a minimum of four to six years might be optimal to give those students the support necessary for academic success.

TBE programs come with the flexibility to help more transient student populations because the program design lets students enter and exit at any time, depending on their individual performance patterns. Generally, programs that focus on early exit from TBE transition pupils to SEI (Sheltered English Immersion) programs. Pupils from early-exit models still remain ELs (English learners) and should receive EL services.