What Is Immersion?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Immersion is seen as a highly effective way to teach foreign languages. The Center for Applied Linguistics keeps a database of programs in the United States that includes 310 foreign language immersion programs in 263 schools across 33 states and 83 school districts. Here are some accepted definitions:

· Total Immersion: For the first few years, preferably starting in kindergarten, students learn all subjects in the non-English language. They might have a small amount of additional English development as well. By about third grade, the program transitions, and students learn about half of their lessons in English and the other half in the partner language.

· Partial Immersion: Starting from the first year, students cover about half of the curriculum in English and half in another language. As is the case with total immersion, lessons are not repeated in both languages, but material in a unit can be taught in either.

· Two-Way Immersion: This typically describes the demographics of a class in which about half of the students are native English speakers and half are native speakers of the partner language. Two-way programs can be total or partial.

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