Costs, Real Immersion,

How Can I Distinguish a Real Immersion Program
from Other Language-Rich Programs?
Definition of Immersion

According to the well-established research on language-acquisition, only real immersion programs produce the level of fluency that produce a truly bilingual or multilingual child. Yet, the term language immersion is often used to reference a wide range of language exposure programs. Parents should be clear what they are signing-up for.  Below we provide a definition drawn from the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).



Definition of Dual Language

In the United States there are two types of language immersion programs:  One way (regular Immersion); and two-way, referred to as Dual Language. 

One Way Immersion:  In these programs the majority of the children in the class do not speak (or have limited skill in)  the target language and they are fluent in the majority language of the US (English).  Their exposure to the target language is almost entirely in the classroom.

Two Way Immersion:  In these programs 1/3 to 1/2 of the students speak the first target language fluently, but not the second.  The rest of the children speak the second target language fluently, but not the first.  The children are taught 50% in each of the two target languages, learning from the teachers and from one another.

Seven Defining Features of a Language Immersion Program 

1) Subject instruction is occurring through the [target or] minority language for at least 50% of the school day during the elementary [and pre-school] years.  

2) All of the teachers are fully proficient in the languages they are using for classroom instruction. 3) The various languages used in the classroom are separated in a clear and sustained manner during instructional time.  

4) The target language is used for subject matter instruction. (For example young children play and explore in the target language; older children learn social studies, science, or art in the target language.) 

5) The classroom environment is language-rich.  

6) Teachers elicit talk from the children that increases in it's fluency, accuracy, and complexity over the course of time.

7) Teachers don’t use English as the default for clarification, or for checking on meaning or understanding.