Bilingualism & Dual Language Education in Canada

Recently, the U.S. Congress made a bipartisan request for a national commission to study the state of language education in the United States. Similar to Canada’s bilingual programs, this kind of request may mark an important shift in thinking about the importance of multilingualism and related education initiatives.

Who Do Dual Language Programs Serve?

This changing discourse is coming not only from our leaders, but also from local policymakers and community members. From Delaware to North Carolina to Utah, there has been exponential growth of Dual Language (DL) education programs since the 1990s. But what exactly are dual language programs? And what are the promises and possibilities of this unique model of education? This will focus on defining DL programs and who they serve, and a subsequent brief will focus on the promises and possibilities of dual language education.

Dual language education can refer to a variety of programs and practices. Most broadly, DL programs use two different languages for instruction of core subjects like math, reading, social studies, and science. Such programs have three ultimate goals: (a) the development of bilingualism and biliteracy, (b) high academic achievement, and (c) cross-cultural competency. While the most recent explosion of new programs is in elementary schools, with classes starting in kindergarten, dual language models also exist at the middle and high school levels.

The most common models are called “two-way” and “one-way” immersion, but there are also “heritage” and “developmental bilingual” programs.

How Do Dual Language Programs Work?

Dual language programs vary in the amount of time students spend learning in each language.
 The most common approaches are “90:10” and “50:50.” A 90:10 program has 90% of instruction
 in the immersion language (e.g., Spanish) and 10% in the area’s dominant language (e.g., English). The 90:10 approaches are common in elementary one-way immersion and developmental bilingual models, which often employ one fully bilingual individual as the lead classroom teacher. Meanwhile, in the 50:50 approach, students spend 50% of their time in each language. In these cases, schools often implement a “two-teacher” model, where each teacher specializes in one language.

Bilingual Certification Through TASE & TCBE Board Exam

Bilingual Teachers with qualified education in TESOL may upgrade their skills to teach their second language through TASE & TCBE. “Teachers Advanced Standing Evaluation” TASE is designed to evaluate and credit applicable units to TESOL & TFSOL programs. Particularly useful in the Expedited Programs, TASE can assess one’s experience and education, and prepare the candidate to participate in TESOL Canada’s Final Board Exam TCBE. Upon satisfactory results, one may qualify to receive a College TESOL Certificate or a Diploma through TASE. Within the evaluation process, if the TASE committee determines that the candidate requires additional studies, relevant educational units will be recommended.

The TASE/ TCBE application is available on


The only Official Centre to provide standards and accreditations to Teachers of English TESOL, French TFSOL and Spanish TSSOL across Canada and worldwide.