Teaching social studies in Spanish in dual immersion middle schools: A biliterate approach to history

Fernando Rodríguez-Valls, California State University, Fullerton
Jordi Solsona-Puig, Pepperdine University
Maria Capdevila-Gutiérrez, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha


As many K-6 students enrolled in dual language and bilingual programs enter middle and subsequently high schools that implement similar programs, content area teachers in Spanish face a twofold challenge: to remain aligned with the classroom discourse utilized in Spanish Language Arts (SLAs) and to implement effective strategies while teaching content in the target language. A cohesive language and content program provides students with the opportunity to obtain deep and critical understanding of the content area and to acquire and maintain high levels of biliteracy. To accomplish both, teachers must have the adequate language skills to create, scaffold, and assess the students’ language development in Spanish. Here, we propose a collaborative model where teachers across subject areas—Social Studies and SLAs—work together identifying common assignments, strategies, and skills. This process could help students increase their discernment of how knowledge is assembled within the subject area of history as well as their capability to use the target language when deconstructing primary and secondary sources. The foretold outcome would be to ensure students could read their world and their words with biliterate, historical, and critical eyes.