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Guidance & Implementation

Guidance for Implementing Dual Language Immersion Programs

Dual Language Immersion programs utilize English and a variety of target languages such as Spanish, Arabic, French, Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, or Mandarin for instruction.

Dual language programs use the target language for at least half of the instructional day in the elementary years. These programs generally start in kindergarten or first grade. Many continue into middle school and high school.

Key Characteristics of all quality Dual Language Immersion Models according to CAL & Thomas & Collier are as follows:

  • Integration of language and culture
  • Additive practices that promote bilingualism, biliteracy, and positive cross-cultural attitude and behavior
  • Separation of the two languages for instruction
  • Active engagement, student-centered, and meaningful learning
  • Promotion of positive interdependence among peers and between teachers and students
  • Standards-aligned curriculum and high-quality instructional materials, as well as exposure to authentic language models and texts
  • Valid and appropriate assessments
  • Age-appropriate instruction differentiated and scaffolded for different levels of language proficiency
  • High-quality instruction by highly qualified personnel who have native or native-like proficiency in the language being taught
  • Systemic professional development and support for leaders, teachers, and school personnel
  • Active parent-school partnerships·  
  • Most effective when started in Preschool and/or Kindergarten
  • Communication and expectations have been established in that all stakeholders understand the benefit of maintaining enrollment for multiple years to optimize language learning

Most Common Dual Language Immersion Models

Instructional Time:

  • 90/10 - Begins with 90% of instruction in the target language with increasing English until academic work and literacy are 50:50
  • 50/50- Maintains 50% of instruction in the target language and 50% in English throughout elementary

Student Demographics:

  • Two way - A balanced ratio of students from two language groups (between 70% and 30% for each group)
  • One Way - Over 80% of the student population is from one language group

See table below for examples:

Dual Language Immersion instructional time model table. The 90/10 model begins with 90% of instruction in the target language with increasing English until academic work and literacy are 50:50. The 50/50 model maintains 50% of instruction in the target language and 50% in English throughout elementary.

Work Together

Once the decision has been made to implement a program, the parent and community group should work cooperatively with the school system professionals on the implementation.

Start Planning the Transition to Middle and High School

A critical aspect of any elementary language program is planning for the smooth transition as students advance to middle school and then high school.  Since these students will be functioning at a proficiency level higher than other students, it is important that they have a planned program that will allow them to continue to build their language proficiency as they move up through the grades.  When an elementary school anticipates implementing a language program, the middle and high schools into which the students will feed should be involved in the planning from the beginning.

Support the Program

Parents and community members play a significant role in successful program implementation by supporting the program by:

  1. Encouraging cultural opportunities within the community for all the students.
  2. Speaking positively about language immersion in the community.
  3. Taking any concerns about language immersion directly to the school principal or appropriate district personnel.
  4. Educating all stakeholders on the importance of having 2 languages for student future success.