Separation of Language

A key factor in achieving Dual Language success is having Separation of Language.  Separation of Language requires all adults in the classroom to speak only in the language of instruction. Hence, if your Dual Language Program is Spanish-English, during Spanish time, adults in the classroom speak in Spanish, and during English time, adults in the classroom speak in English.  As students’ linguistic abilities grow, they are encouraged to do the same.  

Why should we all adhere to strict Separation of Language when interacting with Dual Language classrooms? 

1. Separation of Language encourages students to have deep, academic engagement with the language of instruction (and not rely on translations).

2. Separation of Language encourages teachers to focus on language learning strategies to make content comprehensible.

3. Because students and adults tend to use English during the time dedicated to the Language Other Than English (LOTE) more often than vice versa, strict Separation of Language elevates the status of the LOTE, in turn improving students’ attainment of both the LOTE at an academic level and due to transfer, English, also at an academic level (Kennedy & Medina, 2017; Thomas & Collier, 2012).


  1. […] Separation of Language is one of the most important nonnegotiables of Dual Language Education.  Separation of Language is the intentional, exclusive use of the language of instruction on the part of the adults in the classroom.  This means that the adults in the classroom do not translate instruction from the LOTE to English or from English to the LOTE.  This may seem difficult, especially when students are in the beginning stages of language acquisition; however, the right language acquisition strategies can make separation of language easier than it seems. For example, teachers may use visuals, realia, manipulatives, and gestures to help their students understand the lesson.  Total physical response (TPR), looking at students while talking so that they can benefit from watching your lips (when there’s not a pandemic raging), and having students mirror you are also strategies that you can use to help students understand the lesson in the language they are acquiring. […]


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