LINGUIST List 31.2517

Sat Aug 08 2020

Review: Applied Linguistics: Coady (2019)

Editor for this issue: Jeremy Coburn <>

Date: 06-May-2020
From: Marina Cuartero <>
Subject: The Coral Way Bilingual Program
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Book announced at

AUTHOR: Maria R. Coady
TITLE: The Coral Way Bilingual Program
SERIES TITLE: Bilingual Education & Bilingualism
PUBLISHER: Multilingual Matters
YEAR: 2019

REVIEWER: Marina Cuartero, University of Florida


The 1960s marked the beginning of a new era in the United States linguistic landscape: Fidel Castro’s revolution resulted in the Cuban exodus to the US. Thousands of families resettled in Miami in a very short time, which implied in the imperative need to accommodate Spanish-speaking children in US schools. The Coral Way Bilingual Program (CWBP) was a two-way immersion program that resulted from this necessity to integrate them into English classrooms.

In this book, the author, Maria Coady, presents the first U.S. publicly funded bilingual program in the United States, which impacted English as a Second Language (ESL) materials and teacher training until today. To this end, she consulted data gathered from Richard Ruiz (2008) prior research; 12 oral stories from CW teachers, students, and staff that reflected how languages and ideologies were rooted in the community at the time.

The book itself is divided into six chapters, plus a prologue and an epilogue.

In the prologue, Coady lays out the socio-political context of the time and how it influenced the societal perception (and acceptance) of languages and bilingualism. The importance of CWBP lies in being the first bilingual program that included both English and language-minoritized children intending to develop literacy in the native and second language.

In chapter 1, Coady explains the bases for the social experiment. She begins with the historical context, the Cuban revolution, and its exodus. Then, she goes on to describe how Dade County Public Schools (DCPS) were coping with the arrival of Spanish-speaking children in the classroom. While Cuban aides (non-certified Spanish speaking teachers) helped teachers to deal with the newcomers, outside help from the Ford Foundation and Cuban Refugee Program funded bilingual teacher training and English material for Spanish-speaking children in schools.

The Ford Foundation donation also covered the expenses for testing a bilingual program experiment that would provide second language literacy both to Spanish and English students. Coral Way was selected because of the neighbourhood demographics: middle-income Cuban families, an already bilingual Jewish community, and the economic relationship between the new and the existing communities. In Coady’s words, the research was quasi-experimental because it was not randomized: they matched socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and gender to a baseline school with similar demographics.

The goals for the CWBP were not only educational but also social. They were identified as (1) achieving as much as students in a monolingual school, (2) becoming balanced bilinguals, (3) student biculturalism, (4) enhancing objectivity in thinking, (5) acceptance of others, (6) vocational potential, (7) cross-cultural understanding. Coady notes that not all goals relied on student achievement to determine the program’s success.

In Chapter 2, the author explains the CWBP classroom organization. The original plan did not integrate speakers of each language. Students learned in the mornings in the first language and afternoons in the second language. A balanced 50:50 model was not enforced strictly from the beginning, it was varied depending on the grade every 4 weeks by adding minutes, “until students were spending about half of their day either in Spanish or English” (Loveland, 1966). Students had a different teacher in each period and concepts were reinforced in the second part of the day. The teacher planning session before the second part was essential for content reinforcement in the afternoon.

Regarding language distribution, students were assigned to either Spanish or English-speaking classes based on the educator’s belief of the primary language at home. At the beginning of the CWBP, there was the same number of Spanish and English Students per course. However, the arrival of new Spanish-speaking students implied another bilingual room in each grade and flexible sections of ESL/Spanish as a Second Language (SSL) in the second period.

Because of the need to accommodate new students’ abilities in writing and reading, bilingual courses were divided into 3 distinct organizational phases. Phase 1 was the 50:50 staging model. Phase 2 grouped students by the first language based on their reading ability level, and then regrouped, irrespective of their grade level, by their oral ability of the second language. Phase 3 combined phases 1 and 2, in 1967 and after.

Chapter 3 focuses on educators and the important role they played during the first years of CWBP. Part of the funding was dedicated to the instruction of teachers of bilingual students. In the social experiment, teachers had to be native speakers of the languages they taught.

Firstly, Coady explains the Cuban aide’s schedule and the teacher retraining program. Before the bilingual program began, they had non-instructional tasks and they assisted teachers, but not in delivering academic content. Once it started, they kept working closely with teachers in the planning section before the second language period. With the Ford Foundation funds, Cuban aides and other Cuban teachers could complete a teacher retraining program for their Florida license at the University of Miami during 1962.

Later, in summer 1963, with the Cuban Refugee Program funds, CW developed a mandatory 6-week course to prepare English and Spanish speaking teachers to teach in their native language as a second language. They analyzed the existing curriculum, adapted it for the English and Spanish medium, made it compatible with Florida state law and DCPS board policies. The English-speaking teachers only had to adapt their materials to Spanish, but the other teachers needed to develop materials from scratch for Spanish speaking students. In 1964 there was a second summer course, but it focused on the development of materials to support the bilingual curriculum.

In Chapter 4, Coady shows the materials used during instruction: the ‘Miami Linguistic Readers’. The audiolingual method was adapted for the bilingual program into literacy-building activities, because of the young learner capability to develop correct language patterns (Lambert, 1963, cited in Richardson, 1964). Their worksheets featured activities to establish strong oral/verbal habits (i.e. listening, repetition, drills).

CWBP developed the ‘Miami Linguistic Readers’ specifically for the Spanish-speaking students. In 7 levels students were taught linguistic regularity, minimal pairs, followed by more complex linguistic patterns. The content emphasized learning about non-Cuban cultural groups since they already had in-class references about Cuban and American culture. After the experiment, the ‘Miami Linguistic Readers’ was used in a network of bilingual education programs across the US.

The English-speaking students used matching texts in Spanish about science, health, and mathematics in order to reinforce content. This curriculum was created by Cuban aides. Coady notes that there was parental concern about receiving adequate instruction and not falling behind monolingual schools.

In Chapter 5, Coady reports the findings of the experiment. Educational and social data demonstrated student achievement. These data come from Ruiz’s recordings (2008), and Richardson (1968), a teacher at CW before and during the experiment.

For educational goals (1, 2), DCPS used standardized tests like the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the Cooperative Inter-American Test. The SAT results indicated that CW students performed like their peers in the baseline monolingual school. This outcome corroborated that learning through different languages of instruction did not hinder academic performance. The Cooperative Inter-American Test measured bilingual outcomes in Spanish and English for CW students only. This assessment showed that all groups grew in their first and second language but did not become ‘balanced bilinguals’. Spanish-speaking students' results were higher in English than that of English-speaking students in Spanish. Coady provides graphics to illustrate her interpretation.

Social outcomes (goals 3 to 7), although not assessed in tests, were considered a tremendous success. This achievement was captured in the newspaper opinions, the growing parental engagement with the school, and fond memories of CW students in Ruiz’s recordings. The school operated as a family with caregiver teachers and the neighbourhood was receptive to the school. Especially for Spanish-speaking students, Coady emphasizes that the CWBP empowered students to construct their own identity since the Pan Hispanic curriculum was more than language learning and literacy development.

In Chapter 6 Coady provides interviews from Ruiz’s recordings (2008) to portray the role of the surrounding community, in them, the idea of a close family and positive reception are common themes. The use of Spanish in the school helped to build relationships outside the school between parents and educators and strengthen parental involvement in student learning.

In the second part of the chapter, Coady recounted the stories of CWBP graduates who accomplished goals 3-7, in which their supporting bilingual experience would enrich their following careers. From the stories, these graduates were the most likely advocates of bilingual education, traveling, studying and working internationally.

The author concludes in the epilogue by revisiting the socio-political context from the 1960s and the current situation of bilingual education and bilingualism in the US. Especially in Miami, the Florida Department of Education has essentially followed a policy of official English despite the linguistic diversity. The author identifies the relationship between language, ideology, and power for this case and the renaming of the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs to the US Office of English Language Acquisition.

Then she goes on to explain the challenges CW faces today, which are common with other bilingual schools. Firstly, since the setting in Miami in a neighbourhood is not low-income anymore, this may block additional federal funding. Secondly, it is a struggle to find highly trained teachers who can teach content through a second language, and teacher planning time is limited because of continuous testing.

At last, she finishes with lessons from CW that can be applied to current two-way immersion programs (e.g. teacher planning time, financial support), and suggestions for scholars and educators to advocate for bilingual education and act cohesively as a community with the same vision, determination, and transformation as those pioneers in CW.


I commend the author on what is an important contribution to the field. The book itself is well-written and it is easy to read. That said, at times, it feels as if the author duplicates content (e.g., Cuban aides, socio-historical context). This results in somewhat unnecessary repetition since there are sections dedicated to those topics and most chapters begin with a summary of the main ideas. In this manner, Coady emphasizes the importance of understanding the 1960s context and how language ideologies are reflected in language planning.

Because this book retrieves data and experiences from the 1960s, readers do not get as much information as research that deals with bilingual education today. For instance, the researchers did not gather more data from the school that was compared to CW. Coady gathered as much information as she could, from Ruiz’s and Richardson’s research, reports from the Ford Foundation, and other sources. She presents information about the curriculum for Spanish-speaking students in English (e.g. the ‘Miami Linguistic Readers’) and some Spanish materials for the English-speaking children. The reader could benefit from additional materials in Spanish to get a full picture of what the English-speaking children were doing in class to learn their second language.

Regarding the qualitative data, the first impression is that the meticulously detailed experiences (e.g. The father of a student who worked in a shoe factory and later emigrated to Spain) seem too elaborate. However, Coady includes them because she wants to add the background of the students who took part in CWBP and their personal episodes of education. Through understanding these personal events, she tells us that student achievement is more than testing. In fact, as the author points out, the success of CWBP relied not only on academic success, but on the accomplishment of the goals that went beyond the classroom.

To conclude this book is a welcome addition to the field. Readers that would benefit from this book are educators, scholars, and students involved in language policies, language rights, bilingual education and bilingualism. They would benefit because it explains the bases for building a bilingual program, it gives solutions to problems that may arise (e.g. period distribution and phases), and it shows the intricate relation with the socioeconomic context. Moreover, it is a reminder that bilingual education brings short and long-term formative outcomes for students. Coady’s purpose for the reader is to become advocates of bilingual education for our schools.


Lambert, W. E. (1963). Psychological approaches to the study of language learning and bilingualism. Modern Language Journal 47, 114-121.

Loveland, C. L. (1966) Coral Way Elementary: A Bilingual School. University of Florida Digital Collections. See

Richardson, M.W. (1968). An evaluation of certain aspects of the academic achievement of elementary pupils in a bilingual program. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Miami. University of Florida Digital Collections. See

Ruiz, R. (1984). Orientations on language planning. NABE Journal 8 (2), 15-24.


Marina Cuartero is a Ph. D. candidate in Hispanic Linguistics at the University of Florida. Her primary research interest lie in the field of languages in contact, heritage language acquisition, endangered languages, language revitalization and sociolinguistics.

Page Updated: 08-Aug-2020