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dual language immersion programs

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have a child in a dual language immersion program in public school? Just curious about the experience. This school will have half the day's subjects taught in one language and the other half taught in the other language, and will start with kindy. Anyone know anything about these?
post #2 of 19
My sons (K,K, 1st) are in a full Immersion program. So, all day long all subjects are taught in Mandarin. I can answer questions about that. It has been a wonderful experience for our kids and our whole family. Not sure how a half Immersion program would work.
post #3 of 19
I am not familiar with public school immersion programs, but my son attends a dual immersion program. Over a period of 10 days he spends 5 days immersed in each language. He as two different teachers and two different aides. Each teacher has their own unique classroom.

If I had the choice, I would not enroll my child in another 50/50 program, but would opt for full immersion. I do believe that my son is learning French, but if all of his classes were in French his speaking ability would be greater.

My son is three, and within the past few days he has begun to speak French at home and with other children from his school at birthday parties and other events.
post #4 of 19
I am very interested in others thoughts about this as well.
post #5 of 19
My daughter's school uses a 90/10 model, rather than a 50/50 model. I think it's been found to be more successful. In the 90/10 model, k and 1 are taught 90% in the target language, 2nd is at 80%, 3rd at 70%, etc. until 5th grade and higher are at 50/50.

Her school is called "dual immersion" because approximately half of the children come from Spanish speaking homes and about half from English speaking (some are also bilingual at home).

She's in k, and having a positive experience. The great thing about her school is that she is gaining cultural fluency along with language fluency, as many of the staff and half of the students are native speakers.
post #6 of 19
my older ds attended a charter school from grade 1 to grade 4, after which he de-schooled for 5th. that was the year they started a full immersion of either spanish or mandarin, to be chosen at random. i hated the school, but was really bummed to be missing the immersion program.

now we are at another (awesome!) charter school. ds1 is a freshman and ds2 is in 2nd. we just got a letter from the principal that they are wanting to start a spanish immersion program next year. it would start in kindy and move up a few grades each year. i'm thinking that my kids will graduate HS before the program gets to them

heres my question: it should be easy enough to find fluent speakers of spanish (i never understood how the other school intended to find enough native mandarin speaker???). however, ds1 couldnt take spanish 3 this year bc the middle/high school certified teacher left and they couldnt get a replacement. for an immersion program, wouldnt they need to almost double the # of faculty?
post #7 of 19
Originally Posted by blessedwithboys View Post

heres my question: it should be easy enough to find fluent speakers of spanish (i never understood how the other school intended to find enough native mandarin speaker???). however, ds1 couldnt take spanish 3 this year bc the middle/high school certified teacher left and they couldnt get a replacement. for an immersion program, wouldnt they need to almost double the # of faculty?
At my daughter's elementary school, the teachers are bilingual; there's the same number of teachers as any other school. At the middle school program, same story: teachers are bilingual, and also certified in the content area. They are not certified as language teachers, but are fluent in the language and certified in their subject area, i.e. math, or social studies. Immersion is a different model than language classes per se; the regular material (reading, math, science, etc.) is taught in the target language, rather than the language being an add-on.

Our school also has a program where three graduate students in education from Spanish speaking countries come and intern at the school, in addition to the regular teaching staff. I know the German Immersion school in our city brings many of its teachers from Germany on three-year contracts.
post #8 of 19
Originally Posted by blessedwithboys View Post
for an immersion program, wouldnt they need to almost double the # of faculty?
I originally didn't reply to this thread because dd is in private one-way immersion (which is to say that she only gets English Language Arts in English) and I know nothing of two-way immersion and public schools.

So, the only "extra" teacher dd has is the English teacher, who happens to actually be English, so she is getting some very good "proper" British English instruction, as well.

Unlike Diane mentioned, in dd's school, not all of the teachers are bilingual. They are, however, native speakers of the language. Perhaps that is the main difference between one-way immersion and two-way immersion? For example, dd's Kindy teacher didn't really speak English very well. That was fine because dh and I are multilingual and we didn't have a problem communicating, especially with dd there to interpret when needed.

But no, not every subject is taught in both languages. Probably in two-way immersion, some are in English and some in the target language. In one-way, it's everything taught in the target language and English Language (Reading in the primary years) in English.
post #9 of 19

 We are enrolling our son in a dual immersion program at a public school this fall for kindergarten.  It is the 90/10 model which apparently is more successful than the 50/50 model so I'm glad for that. I don't have any experience with it yet other than that we are excited for it.  The program we're entering will be in its first year but the parents and administrators bringing the program to the school are an amazing group and very passionate about DI so I'm feeling confident in our choice even though it's a new program.

post #10 of 19

no experience yet!

Edited by ElliesMomma - 5/28/11 at 10:09pm
post #11 of 19


We considered half immersion but now are happy we did not.

IMO the only immersion that works is full immersion and starting from KG. I know many who have done this and are totally bilingual now.

My son did not do this because he started in a Waldorf school.

 His new school offered a late  French immersion from grade 4 and up. Some of my son’s classmate chose to do it and still don’t speak proper French. As well, many important subjects like science and history are in French and the kids in the programs are really missing a lot. My son’s favourite subject in science so I am happy he did not take this program.

That being said, I am also not happy with the  French  as a second language  he is getting. He is not learning anything!

 I feel they do not know not know how to teach foreign languages in North America! In Europe so many people speak several languages but sill study their major subjects in their mother tongue.  It seems like it should be possible to teach like that here as well!


Edited by raksmama - 4/18/11 at 6:09am
post #12 of 19

I think the 90/10 model that several people have referenced is a winner.  That's the model my daughter's school is following, and her fluency (for her age) is great. Otherwise, it's hard to get enough exposure to the target language early on.

post #13 of 19

My DS is in a full immersion school (Spanish 100 percent K and 1st, 90/10 in 2nd and moves up to 60/40 by 5th grade.) He also gets Mandarin 4 days a week in a more traditional approach. It's been wonderful for him.


Personally, we wanted a full immersion program but if dual is all that was offered, I'd have taken it. Getting half-day language is better than no language at all!

post #14 of 19

My children are in an immersion programme at school. It is 80/20 through grade 6 and then 50/50 until the end of high school. They are all fluent and it has been a great learning experience for them.

post #15 of 19

thanks for all the great success story replies. it gives me more confidence in our decision. and i'm really looking forward to seeing how the progression goes.


post #16 of 19

It depends really on what you want. There are two different dual programs I'm familiar with. One is public, and they really strive for a balance in the amount of spanish speaking and english speaking children enrolled, most staff are bilingual, but they have 2-4 teachers for each grade they share, and certain teachers always teach in english, and others teach in spanish, for consistancy. The other school is a charter school, in a heavy immigrant area, so I'm not sure of the demographics, but I assume it is more latino, thus their philosophy is the child should be competant in their native language while gaining mastery in the other language too.  If there are no full immersion options around for you, then dual immersion shouldn't be a bad choice.


post #17 of 19

My kids started in kindy and are in 2nd and 5th (last year) of Spanish immersion - it's almost exactly like Diane B described. The only difference is that ours is a strand w/in the school rather than the entire school. It has been great, although it's hard for me to tell their fluency level because they usually won't speak Spanish if I'm there (they're bilingual in another language that I have had some struggles keeping up with at home). Nonetheless, the exposure to another language has been fantastic, and I just wish our town would continue the program past 5th grade, but there is resistance to that.

post #18 of 19

FYI--the difference between "one-way immersion" and "two-way immersion" has to do with the population of kids in the classroom. In one-way immersion, most of the kids come from the same language background and are immersed in the target language. In 2-way or dual immersion, kids come from two different language backgrounds (e.g. English speaking families & Spanish speaking families) and the classes are taught in both languages, usually aiming for all kids to be bilingual and biliterate in both languages.

post #19 of 19

My mom and her friend started a dual-language public school in Chicago, and I attended from preschool - 8th grade.  I would agree that the 90/10 model is best.  In the early grades students should be taught to read in their native/dominant language but get the extra language support (for example, ESL or SSL) in the target language.


My ideal is where the same subject is taught in each language on different days.  I have seen where teachers do math ONLY in Spanish, for example, and for children who are dominant in English and struggle with math, it can become a nightmare.  While being bilingual/biliterate/bicultural is important, the CONTENT is essential.


As a pp said, the population is really important.  While the traditional model is 50/50, I do not think this works as well.  I think there should be a much higher number of minority language speakers because the minority language is the one that is harder to keep/learn (for majority speakers).  Much more impetus for the majority language speakers to actually SPEAK in the target language if they want to connect with others.

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