Two-Way Language Immersion Program FAQ
Two-Way Bilingual Immersion Programs in California frequently asked questions on two-way instructional approaches and other issues.
How can a school in California legally provide a program of instruction in a language other than English?
Parents of English learners must sign yearly waivers of consent prior to placement of their child in a two-way immersion program. Additionally, prior to enrollment in the program, California requires English learners (under ten years of age) to be placed in an English language classroom for 30 calendar days prior to placement.
The first number refers to the amount of instructional time initially spent for instruction in the target or 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.
The English speaker is not at risk of losing the English language. English is spoken at home, in the community, and in the media. Two-way bilingual immersion programs are not replacing English with another language, but provide the students the opportunity to acquire a second language. Two-way bilingual immersion programs are additive programs in that a second language is acquired while maintaining the first language of the students.
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, consult the Center for Applied Linguistics FAQs.
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.
There are no specific criteria for students except parental choice.
Usually two-way 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.
English learners in a Vietnamese/English two-way bilingual immersion program should be Vietnamese speakers. However, speakers of other languages who are proficient in either Vietnamese or English could be eligible for enrollment in the program.
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.
Not necessarily. However, many successful programs have found that some extra funding is necessary to provide staff development and purchase materials in the target language, especially for library and research materials.
The two-way 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 two-way bilingual 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 two-way program staff.
Ongoing monitoring of the program is very important. Time should be allocated for teachers to meet in grade-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 two-way bilingual immersion program design and instruction.
No, one teacher who is proficient in the target language and English can successfully implement a two-way bilingual 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.
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)
Understanding or reviewing the research on which these programs are based best answers this question. Two-way 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 up to 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 on Language Acquisition. Fifteen years of results on two-way immersion programs show similar results.
Two of the most extensive Web sites on two-way programs are the Center for Applied Linguistic and the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition and Language Instruction Education.