Bilingual Education and Dual Language Programs

In 1968, Congress mandated bilingual education with Title V11 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the Bilingual Education Act. The objective of bilingual education is to provide immigrants access to education in their primary or first language. The Bilingual Education Act has been amended to address issues like funding, training and academic support, and eligibility.

The U.S. Department of Education describes a bilingual education program as “an educational program for limited English proficient students.” The term, “limited English proficiency” describes an individual whose primary language is not English. Challenges in reading, writing, and conversation, and/or communication deny that person an opportunity to fully participate in society.

Differences Between Dual Language and Bilingual Education

In bilingual education classrooms, students speak only in their native language. All instruction and interactions are conducted in the student’s primary language while they have an opportunity for an education.

Dual Language Bilingual Education

In dual language schools and programs, half of the students speak in their native language and the other half are English language speakers. This benefits both groups, as one can learn from the other in a setting guided by an accredited dual language teacher.

Spanish immersion programs are designed so that English speaking students can become fluent in Spanish. Students might enter in first grade where 90% of the instruction and interactions are conducted in English. As students progress through school, the percentage taught in Spanish increases. By the time the student moves on to middle school, they are fluent in Spanish. Some public schools also offer French immersion programs.

Other programs that provide students an opportunity to expand their dual language skills include study abroad. Study abroad scholarships help offset the cost of travel to another country such as Spain, France, or Italy.

Bilingual education, dual language, and Spanish immersion programs are sought after by many parents, families, and students. Students reap valuable rewards from these programs.

Benefits to students involved in dual language

Explore our regional dual language programs and bilingual schools 

San Antonio Area Region

Houston Gulf Coast Area Region

Dual Language Programs

Public schools offer dual language programs to promote inclusion and diversity for all students.

Harlandale ISD Dual Language Program


The Dual Language Program at Harlandale ISD provides a special program for students to learn and develop bilingualism and cultural awareness. 1,700 students from Pre-K to 8th grade participate in the program, and 110 bilingual teachers are dedicated to helping the students in studying and mastering both English and Spanish. The dual-language program increases job opportunities and the ability to succeed in future careers.