World Languages

Language Immersion

Published: 11/8/2018 12:45 PM
What is Language Immersion Education?

Language immersion provides a way to learn academic content while acquiring another language at the same time. Students receive math, science, and social studies instruction in a target language, such as Spanish. The teaching strategies used support students in learning the concepts and skills for the subject area and develop the ability to read, write, speak, and listen in another target language.​

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Characteristics of Immersi​on Education
  • Additive bilingualism with sustained and enriched instruction through the second language and the first language is promoted 

  • Subject area instruction through the second language occurs for at least 50% of the school day during the elementary school years 

  • Teachers are fully proficient in the language(s) they use for instruction 

  • Support for the first language is strong and present in the community at large 

  • ​Clear and sustained separation of languages during instructional time​


Differences Between Language Immersion Programs in the United States

Distinguishing Characteristics of One-Way Immersion Programs
  • Additive bilingualism with sustained and enriched instruction through the second language and the first language is promoted 

  • Subject area instruction through the second language occurs for at least 50% of the school day during the elementary school years 

  • Teachers are fully proficient in the language(s) they use for instruction 

  • Support for the first language is strong and present in the community at large 

  • Clear and sustained separation of languages during instructional time


Distinguishing Characteristics of Two-way (Dual Language) Immersion Programs​
  • English-dominant children become bilingual in their own language in addition to a second one. 

  • Second language-dominant children become bilingual in their own language in addition to English. 

  • Student population consists of first language speakers and second language speakers with dominance in their first language and home language support for this language (e.g., Spanish dominant students whose parents use primarily Spanish in the home and English dominant students from English-speaking homes) 

  • A 1:1 ratio is ideally maintained for these two language groups, but a minimum of one-third of each language group (i.e., a 2:1 ratio) is essential 

  • An academically challenging learning environment is provided to bring children from two different language groups together to learn from and with each other in an integrated setting  

  • Instruction through the second language is viewed as an enrichment experience for all, not as remedial or compensatory education for the language minority students in the program 

  • ​The languages of instruction will involve both the first and a second language. The second language may be a more commonly taught language (e.g., Spanish-English), a less commonly taught language (e.g., Korean-English), or an indigenous/heritage language (e.g., Navajo-English)


Current Existing Language Immersion Programs in Kentucky 

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​Alfonso De Torres Núñez
Office of Teaching and Learning
Division of Program Standards
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
502-564-2106
Fax 502-564-6470
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