What is the Biliteracy Unit Framework?

The Biliteracy Unit Framework or BUF (Beeman & Urow, 2013), as we commonly call it, is composed of the following six stages:buf-copy

  • Building Background & Oracy
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing Process
  • Word Study
  • The Bridge
  • Extension

Each part provides integral skills and information that lead to the development of biliterate students. The goal of the framework and the integrated units is for students to acquire listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in two languages across content areas.

Building Background and OracyTeachers are working on developing students' academic vocabulary and content. Through interactive and hands on activities the teachers are expanding on the student’s background knowledge.img_0753
Reading ComprehensionTeachers are explicitly and purposefully teaching comprehension to bilingual readers using content-related texts. It looks like Readers’ Workshop, but it is more structured and it is based on students’ needs.anchor-chart-copy-2
Writing ProcessAfter students have had several experiences with oral language and reading about the content, the teacher guides them through the writing process- prewrite, draft, revise, edit, confer and publish.writing-process-copy
Word StudyTeachers use formative data gathered from the student's writing to determine which skills need to be addressed/taught during word study.word-study-copy
The Bridge
(Content & Literacy)
During the bridge, students generate a visual representation of what they have learned in one language and then they add the equivalent in the other language. The teacher guides students in comparing and contrasting the two languages to develop metalinguistic awareness.bridge-copy-2
ExtensionDuring the extension, the students are involved in authentic activities where they are exposed to the literacy standards they learned in the other language (i.e. If the unit was taught in Spanish, then the extension activities should be done in English).extension-copy

We have used numerous resources to guide our biliteracy work. Some of those resources include the Teaching for Biliteracy book by Karen Beeman and Cheryl Urow and Biliteracy from the Start by Kathy Escamilla. If you want to learn more about the biliteracy stages, sign-up for a free account on the Teaching for Biliteracy website.

  1. Click on the following link.
  2. Click on Login on the top right-hand corner.
  3. Fill out the information requested.
  4. Explore the website.


*Beeman, K., & Urow, C. (2013). Teaching for biliteracy: strengthening bridges between languages. Philadelphia: Caslon.

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