Language Immersion Education: Did You Know?
CARLA has long supported immersion language education through education and research. Dr. Tara Williams Fortune shares some of the highlights about this fast-growing educational model:
Did you know… about CARLA’s support of immersion education?
- CARLA’s Immersion Education and Research Program has collaborated with leading researchers and educators to offer summer institutes for 1,581 new and veteran immersion educators at the University of Minnesota since 1997.
- In 1995, CARLA hosted its first international conference on language immersion education for 250 participants; in 2012, CARLA’s 4th international conference on language immersion education in Minnesota brought together 684 participants from 38 states and Washington D.C., and 18 countries including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
- CARLA created a short video, Language Immersion Education in Minnesota, that unites the voices of researchers and community leaders with those of Minnesota immersion practitioners and their students. The video draws attention to the role dual language and immersion programs can play in addressing the state’s achievement gap and preparing children to compete in the global economy.
- CARLA is a member of the National Dual Language Consortium, five non-profit organizations and several leading dual language and immersion researchers that conduct research, provide professional development for practitioners, and disseminate information about dual language and immersion education to a wide audience.
- The unique handbook entitled Struggling Learners and Language Immersion Education: Research-based, Practitioner-informed Responses to Educators’ Top Questions grew out of work led by Dr. Tara Fortune to fill a vital need for information on a topic that is fast becoming a widespread challenge as immersion programs become increasingly popular across the country.
Did you know… about Dual Language and Immersion Education in the United States?
- Dual language and immersion programs teach children subject matter in a non-English language for at least half of the preK-5 school day and continue in grades 6-12 with a minimum of two yearlong courses in that language. These programs aim for high levels of academic achievement, bilingualism and biliteracy, and enhanced cross-cultural understanding.
- Dual language and immersion programs serve a wide range of children and families. Three main program varieties target English-speaking children (one-way world language immersion), a combined group of children who speak a home language other than English as well as English speakers (two-way bilingual immersion), and Native American children whose languages and cultures are being lost (indigenous immersion).
- Dual language and immersion education as a choice-based program is growing in numbers and recognition. Self-report survey records maintained by the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) indicates there are 500 foreign language immersion and 438 two-way bilingual immersion, and 44 indigenous immersion programs (CAL, 2014). The actual number of dual language programs in the U.S. is undoubtedly higher, since individual state leaders consistently report much higher numbers than those that appear in these directories. For a recent overview of initiatives in six states, check out the State of the States video of a symposium during CARLA’s 2012 conference.
Really?! Did you know… about the History of Dual Language and Immersion in Minnesota?
- The first language immersion program began in 1986 as a strand program in a non-immersion elementary school in the Saint Paul Public Schools with less than 50 kindergarteners; as of the 2012-13 school year, Minnesota has 84 dual language and immersion programs educating more than 13,000 preK-12 children towards bilingualism and biliteracy in Chinese, Dakota, English, French, German, Hmong, Ojibwe and Spanish.
- Dual language and immersion programs in Minnesota have developed from grassroots efforts in local districts with interest in desegregating public schools with magnet programs, promoting academic achievement while giving children and families the bilingual advantage, and responding to community demand for innovative educational alternatives.
- Minnesota is home to more early total Mandarin immersion programs, in which K-2 children learn all day in Mandarin (and even learn to read in Mandarin first!), than any other state in the U.S. To support these programs, the Minnesota Mandarin Immersion Collaborative (MMIC), a K-12-University partnership, envisioned the Global Literacy through Mandarin Immersion and STEM Project. This grant-funded initiative sought to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum as a means to develop a Mandarin immersion pipeline that would begin in Kindergarten and extend through post-secondary learning. The first Gr. 3 Mandarin immersion unit—Just Passing Through: Designing Model Membranes, adapted with permission from the Boston Museum of Science Engineering is Elementary® curriculum, is currently available to Mandarin immersion programs across the country.