What is Dual Immersion?


Other Names [ click here ]

Definition   [ click here ]

Defining Characteristics   [ click here ]

Variety in Program Design   [ click here ]

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)   [ click here ]

Myths/Misconceptions   [ click here ]

Vocabulary  [ click here ]


Other Names:                                    

There are many different names for dual immersion programs in the U.S. and abroad.  You might already be familiar with this type of program and know it by another name.  Two-way immersion, two-way bilingual education, dual languageimmersion, and dual immersion are all names for the same program.  You might also have heard of one-way immersion or foreign language immersion programs.  These programs are similar in philosophy (bilingualism/academic achievement), but don't include native speakers of the foreign language.

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Definition:                                    

Dual immersion programs include native English-speaking students and native speakers of a foreign language.  The goals of dual immersion programs are to develop bilingualism/biliteracy, academic achievement, and cross-cultural competencies for all students.  Dr. KatherynLindholm-Leary, one of the countries leading experts on dual immersion programs defines them as:

"[In dual immersion programs] English-dominant and target-language-dominant students are purposefully integrated with the goals of developing bilingual skills, academic excellence, and positive cross-cultural and personal competency attitudes for both groups of students." (Lindholm-Leary, 2001 pg. 30)

In dual immersion programs, students learn content through both their native language and the target language.  Simultaneous translation is never used.  By the end of 5th grade, all students in the program are proficient in English, proficient in the target language, and at or above grade level academic benchmarks.

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Defining Characteristics:                

There are three "nonnegotiables" that have been identified relating to dual immersion programs. Although there is some variety in different program design (outlined below) all dual immersion programs adhere to the following three principles:

1. The student population is comprised of 50% native-English speakers and 50% native speakers of the target language (the foreign language).  (Some dual immersion schools where there is a population of bilingual students, like in the southwest, adhere to a 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 model where 1/3 of the students are native-English speakers, 1/3 are native speakers of the target language, and1/3 are already somewhat bilingual.)

2. At least 50% of the school day is spent in the target language.  (Many programs spend significantly longer than 50%.)

3. The scopeof the program is K-12th grade, not just K-5.

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Variety in Program Design:        

Outside of the three "nonnegotiable" principles outlined above, there is some variety in the actual design of dual immersion programs. 

Time in Each Language:

The first and most important, is the distinction between 50:50 programs and 90:10 programs.  These ratios represent percentage of time spent in each language (target language : English).  Outlined below is the progression of this ratio from Kindergarten through 5th grade, after which the models are the same.


90:10                          50:50

K-90:10                 K-50:50

1st-80:20                  1st-50:50

2nd-70:30                2nd-50:50

3rd-60:40                3rd-50:50

4th-50:50               4th-50:50

5th-50:50               5th-50:50

After 5th grade, both program models utilize various ways to extend the program through middle and high schools.  They might offer one to two content classes in the target language each semester/year.  They also usually offer advanced classes in the target language (AP Spanish, Spanish Literature, etc.)  How the program looks at the secondary level varies, however each program is committed to allowing students to continue to develop their bilingualism through the time the graduate from high school.

Literacy Development:

The second main variable that exists between various dual immersion programs is how to teach literacy in both languages.  Some programs utilize simultaneous literacy development, where both literacy in English and in the target language are taught at the same time.  Other programs utilize sequential literacy development, where students learn to read and write in one language first and then add learning to read and write in the other.

Whole School or Strand?

Another variable in program design is whether the program will consists of a whole school (neighborhood or magnet) or be a strand within a school. Programs that are strands within existing schools usually comprise one to two classrooms at each grade level. These programs have the challenge of functioning as a distinct program and as a member of the larger school community.

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Myths & Misconceptions               

You might have heard some of the following statements regarding dual immersion programs. Please take a few minutes to explore these ideas.

“Dual immersion is just another program to help ESL students.” [Link Below]

“Dual immersion is an elite program, only for gifted and talented students.” [Link Below

“Learning a language is difficult enough, learning two or more languages leads to interference with neither language being learned.” [Link Below

 “We need to teach English and non- English speakers English as quickly as possible to give them the basics they will need later to learn content.” [Link Below

“Support of the native language takes time away from time which could be allowed for English language instruction.” [Link Below]


“Dual immersion is just another program to help ESL students.”

Actually dual immersion programs are targeted at native-English speaking students just as much as ESL students.  These programs require that half of the students are native English speakers and seek to develop bilingualism and academic excellence for all students. It’s true that the dual immersion program model is the most effective program for ESL students.  (Thomas& Collier, 2001; Slavin & Cheung, 2005; Krashen & McField, 2005;etc.) [Link to research page] However, native-English speaking students also perform as well or better than similar peers in different programs (Genesee, 1987; Lindholm-Leary, 2004;etc.) [Link to research page] Plus, they have the opportunity to become bilingual.

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Dual immersion is an elite program—only for gifted and talented students.”

Dual immersion programs have been shown to be equally effective for all groups of students. (Lindholm-Leary, 2004; etc.) [Link to research page]  Although there are a few programs in charter and private schools that screen incoming students, the vast majority of dual immersion programs do not screen incoming students.  Teton County School District will utilize a lottery process to ensure students have equal access to the program.  Occasionally, parents, in consultation with school personnel, will decide that placement in a dual immersion programis not in their child’s best interests, because not all supplemental services can be provided in a bilingual manner.

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“Learning a language is difficult enough, learning two or more languages leads to interference with neither language beinglearned.”

This has been found to be untrue in both the US and abroad.  Internationally, many people grow up bilingual or multilingual without any interference in theirlanguage learning.  In fact, recent estimates say that over 65% of the rest of the world is bilingual or multilingual and highlight the commonness of learning (and learning in) more than one language.  In the US, a consistent battery of meta-analysis (large studies involving many smaller research studies) has shown that students in dual immersion become bilingual and achieve grade level benchmarks without any inter-language confusion. [Link to research page]

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 “We need to teach English and non- English speakers English as quickly as possible to give them the basics they will need later to learn content.”

This myth (and the next) are based on what we would normally find intuitive to learning—meaning it just makes sense.  More time learning skills will lead tobetter skills and more time learning English will lead to more English.  However, research consistently shows that students still achieve grade level benchmarks and beyond, even when learning in a second language. (see our research page) [Link to research page] 

[Back to Myths & Misconceptions]

 

“Support of the native language takes time away from time which could be allowed for English language instruction.”

This myth (and the previous) are based on what we would normally find intuitive to learning—meaning it just makes sense.  More time learning skills will lead to better skills and more time learning English will lead to more English.  However, in this case research consistently shows that ESL students actually learn more English, when they spend more time in their native language. (see our research page) [Link to research page]  Of course, initially students may show a slight lag in their English development.  However, this lag not only disappears quickly, but ESLstudents in dual immersion programs dramatically outperform ESL students in programs that have little instruction in their native language.

[Back to Myths & Misconceptions]

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Vocabulary:                                    

Target language—

Cross-cultural competency—

Bilingualism/Biliteracy—

Immersion vs. Submersion—

50:50 or 90:10—

Simultaneous translation—

Simultaneous literacy development—

Sequential literacy development—

Neighborhood vs. Magnet—

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Questions
1)  What is the difference between a 90:10 and a 50:50 model?
2)  Why is it okay to immerse English speakers in a language, but not Spanish speakers?
3)  Which model is more effective - 50:50 or 90:10?
4)  Can you implement a dual immersion program with a school population of 96 percent Spanish speakers?
5)  What are the criteria for students to be in a dual immersion program?
6)  Should students enter a dual immersion program after first grade?
7)  Can you include English learners of a language other than Spanish in a Spanish/English dual immersion program?
8)  Must you have parallel materials in both languages in the content areas?
9)  Does it cost more to implement a dual immersion program?
10)  How is a dual immersion program integrated with other programs at a school site?
11)  How can"quality control?" be maintained in a dual immersion program?
12)  Do you need two teachers per classroom to implement a dual immersion program?
13)  Do English learners get enough English instruction in a 90:10 model?
14)  How can students who speak only English learn when they are instructed for up to 90 percent of the day in a language they don't understand?
15)  What happens in the classroom?
16)  Is this method of early language learning in wide use?
 
Answers
1)  Q What is the difference between a 90:10 and a 50:50 model?
A
The first number refers to the amount of instructional time initially spent for instruction in the targetor non-English language in kindergarten. The second number refers to English. In a 90:10 model the amount of the target language decreases yearly as English increases until there is a 50:50 balance of the languages generally in grades four through six. A 50:50 model uses English and the target language for 50 percent of the time throughout the duration of the program.
2)  Q Why is it okay to immerse English speakers in a language, but not Spanish speakers?
A
The English speaker is not at risk of losing the English language. English is spoken at home, in the community, and in the media. Dual immersion programs are not replacing English with another language, but provide the students the opportunity to acquire a second language. Dual immersion programs are additive programs in that a second language is acquired while maintaining the first language of the students.
3)  Q Which model is more effective - 50:50 or 90:10?
A

Regardless of the model implemented, both models have been found to effectively achieve the goals of bilingualism and biliteracy; however, the 90:10 model has been shown to create higher levels of bilingualism. For specific research studies visit the Center for Applied Linguistics FAQs at http://www.cal.org/twi/.

4)  Q Can you implement a dual immersion program with a school population of 96 percent Spanish speakers?
A
No, the ideal ratio of English learners to English speakers is 50:50, but to stay within the program design, the recommendation of many practitioners is that the ratio should never go below 33 percent for either language group. A school may however, under certain circumstances, choose to select a bilingual maintenance or heritage language model for developing bilingualism for this population.
5)  Q What are the criteria for students to be in a dual immersion program?
A
There are no specific criteria for students except parental choice.
6)  Q Should students enter a dual immersion program after first grade?
A
Usually dual immersion programs do not accept English-only speakers after first grade and English learners after second grade. Bilingual and biliterate students can enter the program at any time.
7)  Q Can you include English learners of a language other than Spanish in a Spanish/English dual immersion program?
A
English learners in a Spanish/English dual immersion program should be Spanish speakers. However,speakers of other languages who are proficient in either Spanish or English could be eligible for enrollment in the program.
8)  Q Must you have parallel materials in both languages in the content areas?
A
No, materials are acquired according to the language of instruction of the content area. For example, if the decision is made to teach math in Chinese and social studies in English, then the mathematics materials should be in Chinese and the social studies materials should be in English. The difference is in the language of delivery, not the content.
9)  Q Does it cost more to implement a dual immersion program?
A
Not typically. After the initial costs necessary to purchase materials in the target language, especially for library and research materials, there is generally no additional cost to the district. Each student in the program would have a classroom teacher even if they were not in the program. Each of those teachers would receive professional development; in this case it would just be focused on their specific needs. Costs to the district are typically the same as with or without a dual immersion program.
10)  Q How is a dual immersion program integrated with other programs at a school site?
A
The dual immersion program should not be viewed as a separate program. The school should develop a common vision of equity for all students that values the students language and culture. The same standards-based curriculum is taught in the dual immersion program that is taught in other school programs. Staff development should be provided for all staff so that the philosophy and program goals are shared. Sufficient time must also be allocated to the specific needs of the dual immersion program staff.
11)  Q How can"quality control?" be maintained in a dual immersion program?
A
Ongoing monitoring of the program is very important. Time should be allocated for teachers to meet ingrade-level groups and across grades to discuss program design issues and to interpret student data. These sessions can be facilitated by an administrator, resource teacher, or designated lead teacher who is knowledgeable in dual immersion program design and instruction.
12)  Q Do you need two teachers per classroom to implement a dual immersion program?
A
No, one teacher who is proficient in the target language and English can successfully implement a dual immersion program in the classroom. It is recommended, however, that teachers team teach for the language blocks of instruction, especially in the primary (kindergarten through second) grades so that students identify with a target language speaking model and an English-speaking model. 

It is advantageous that during the first couple of years of the program, particularly during English instruction, teachers who understand the target language are used so that they can communicate with the target language speakers.
13)  Q Do English learners get enough English instruction in a 90:10 model?
A
English time must be carefully defined and implemented. High quality curriculum and instruction are essential. Research shows that when programs are fully implemented according to the program design, English learners in 90:10 models score as well as or better than their peers in other programs in English tests. (Lindholm-Leary, (2001) Dual Language Education, Multilingual Matters LTD)
14)  Q How can students who speak only English learn when they are instructed for up to 90 percent of the day in a language they don't understand?
A

Understanding or reviewing the research on which these programs are based best answers this question. Dual immersion programs are based on years of research from the foreign language immersion models in Canada designed for English speakers learning French. This model, in which English-speaking students have been instructed in French for upto 100 percent of their day, shows students perform as well as or better on tests of English than their English-speaking peers who have been instructed only in English. For more information on immersion programs, visit the Center for Advanced Research onLanguage Acquisition . Fifteen years of results on two-way immersion programs show similar results.

15)  Q What happens in the classroom?
A
Language is the vehicle for instruction in immersion classrooms. A visitor would not find a class conjugating verbs or memorizing prepared "dialogues." Rather, one would see children using the language --speaking, reading, writing, adding, subtracting, experimenting, singing, arguing, whispering and shouting --all in the target language, under the guidance of a teacher ,who has been specially trained to teach the language while using it. The teachers follow the same curricula as the district's English-only classes.
16)  Q Is this method of early language learning in wide use?
A

In short, yes.  There are more than 300 elementary language Dual Immersion Programs throughout theUnited States, according to the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) in Washington, D.C.  However, this resource utilizes self-reporting and is estimated to be dramatically under-representative of the actual number of dualimmersion programs in the country. (For example, Texas has more than 194 programs (http://texastwoway.org) and California has at least 100 programs (www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/ip).  Those two states have almost as many programs as are listed in the CAL directory, which reports for all states.)  There are Dual Immersion programs in many languages, but the most common by far is Spanish.  The model was developed in the 1970s in Quebec, Canada, where it is still used extensively to develop bilingualism in French and English-speaking students.