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Dual Language Immersion Program Types

A Quick Guide About the differences in Dual language immersion program types

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There are several dual language immersion program types that parents should know about. Research continues to support that Dual language immersion programs are the best way to teach language and other cultures.

As a result, to keep up with parent’s interest in language learning for their children, some school districts now integrate dual language learning in their schools by adding immersion classrooms into their elementary schools.

The Center for Applied Linguistics shares three different types of dual language immersion programs are available to families.

Two-Way Immersion

Give equal emphasis to English and other language. Two-thirds of the students are native speakers of the non-English language, with the remainder being native English speakers.

Total Immersion

All or almost all subjects in lower grades (K-2) are taught in the target language; instruction in English increases to 20%-50%in the upper grades (3-6).

Partial Immersion

All or almost all subjects in lower grades (K-2) are taught in the target language; instruction in English increases to 20%-50%in the upper grades (3-6).

Although Dual Language immersion program types may seem a bit different, the programs aim to maximize language development in two languages. Subsequently, the instructional setting of dual language immersion programs varies in a total immersion or partial immersion instructional model.

School Options

Classrooms Based Immersion Programs

When a school offers dual language immersion program classes instead of a school-wide implementation program the program looks somewhat different.

For instance, in a classroom-based immersion program – two teachers teach as partner teachers per grade level beginning in Kindergarten. The Spanish teacher teaches Spanish language arts, social studies, and mathematics. Meanwhile, the English teacher focuses on English language arts and reinforces mathematics in English.

Subsequently, as students move up in grade levels, two more teachers are selected to teach the rising grade level. This cycle continues until students reach the highest grade level offered in the dual-language program.

School-wide Immersion Programs

There are several differences between dual language immersion classrooms and school-wide programs. The main difference between the two relates to how schools structure the programs and the amount of dual language exposure.

Contrary to classroom-based, in school-wide immersion programs students experience and learn both languages all day. Specials may include art, music, computer, library, or physical education classes. Some schools offer elective classes in both languages to expose students to the target language more often.

The school-wide immersion program is sometimes referred to as the two-way immersion program. For this reason, in a two-way immersion model, children learn 50% of the day in English and 50% of the day in the other language. Two-way immersion begins in kindergarten. Students receive content area instruction in both languages.

The English partner teaches English language arts and social studies or Science in English. Meanwhile, the Spanish teacher focuses on teaching Spanish language arts, mathematics, and sometimes social studies or science.

For example, the timing and content taught in either language may change as the student goes up in grade level. Whether a school offers immersion in middle school depends on parent interest and continuation of the program.

I encourage you to check with your state’s education website to find out where immersion programs are available in your area. Additionally, you can find out more about dual language immersion programs available in your area.


Get a free copy of the immersion Program Comparison Chart by clicking on this link.

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2 thoughts on “Dual Language Immersion Program Types”

  1. My sister would like to enroll her son in a dual language immersion program that will be able to help enhance her son’s capability to learn a different language. Well, thank you for sharing here that this type of program will offer art, music, library, and physical education classes. It’s also a good thing that you clarified here that they will teach social studies and English too.

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