Dual Immersion Program

Frequently Asked Questions of the La Paz Community School Two-Way Immersion Program

“La Paz Community School’s Two Way Immersion Program is a long-term biliteracy program. In order for students to receive the maximum intended benefits, it is recommended that students continue in the program for at least four to five years.”

What are the benefits of bilingualism?

    • IMG_0137Recent research has highlighted a number of cognitive benefits of bilingualism, including enhanced memory, metalinguistic awareness (the ability to think about language), and executive function (e.g. planning and organization). There are also social benefits of bilingualism, such as the ability to form friendships with people from varying language backgrounds and the ability to gain more from travel experiences in countries where the native language is not spoken. Finally, there are instrumental benefits for bilingual individuals, such as enhanced job opportunities.
    • Further reading: The Benefits of Bilingualism – NYTimes.com The Bilingual Advantage – NYTimes.com

What are the advantages of two-way immersion education?

There are three major advantages, all tied to the goals of two-way immersion education (e.g., Howard, Sugarman, & Christian, 2003).

1. Language and Literacy Benefits: Students develop full oral and reading and writing proficiency in two languages.

2. Academic Benefits: Studies in the US have found that after several years of participation in the program, students in immersion programs not only achieve at levels that are similar to or higher than those of their peers enrolled in monolingual programs on standardized tests of reading and math in English, but they are also able to read and write at grade level in another language. Other studies have found that immersion students have lower drop-out rates and high rates of college aspiration.

3. Socio-Emotional/Cultural Benefits: Immersion students develop very positive attitudes about students of other language and cultural backgrounds, and positive attitudes toward themselves as learners.

How are language and content taught in the La Paz Two-Way Immersion Program?

  • Language is taught through theme-based content planned between English/Spanish teacher grade level teams. Content learned mainly in one language is supported through sheltered instruction techniques (SIOP) and transfers over to the other language through purposeful “bridging” techniques (Beeman & Urow, 2013), in which students are taught to analyze the similarities and differences between the languages, followed by an application of the concepts in the other language.
  • La Paz’s Two Way Immersion Program continues to evolve based on the language dynamic in our community.  Approximate percentages of English and Spanish are as follows:
    • Preschool: 50%Spanish-50% English
    • Kinder-3rd: 45%Spanish-55%English
    • 4th-12th :  50%Spanish-50%English

Literacy is taught in both Spanish and English at the same time. The core subjects taught in Spanish are Spanish Language Arts, Social Studies, and creative specials such as PE and Music, while the core subjects taught in English are English Language Arts, Math (with the exception of grade 9-12), Science and Art.

How long will it take for my child to acquire a new language and achieve long-term academic success?

    • There are five stages of second language acquisition, each with its own approximate time frame. The stages are as follows: pre-production (silent period) (0-6 months); early production (6 months – 1 year); speech emergence (1-3 years); intermediate speech (3-5 years); and advanced fluency (5-7 years). Further information about the stages can be found here.
  • Figure 2.1. Sample Teacher Prompts for Each Stage of Second Language Acquisition

StageCharacteristicsApproximate Time FrameTeacher Prompts
PreproductionThe student...
Has minimal comprehension.
Does not verbalize.
Nods “Yes” and “No.”
Draws and points.
0–6 monthsShow me …
Circle the …
Where is … ?
Who has … ?
Early ProductionThe student...
Has limited comprehension
Produces one- or two word responses.
Uses key words and familiar phrases.
Uses present-tense verbs.
6 months–1 yearYes/no questions
Either/or questions
Who … ?
What … ?
How many … ?
Speech EmergenceThe student...
Has good comprehension.
Can produce simple sentences.
Makes grammar and pronunciation errors.
Frequently misunderstands jokes.
1 - 3 yearsWhy … ?
How … ?
Explain …
Questions requiring phrase
or short-sentence answers
Intermediate FluencyThe student...
Has excellent comprehension.
Makes few grammatical errors.
3 - 5 yearsWhat would happen if … ?
Why do you think … ?
Questions requiring more
than a sentence response
Advanced FluencyThe student...
Has a near-native level of speech.
5 -7 yearsDecide if …
Retell …
  • Research on second language learners in the United States and Canada indicates that it takes 4-7 years for students to develop high-level academic proficiency in a second language (Hakuta, Butler, & Witt, 2000).

What can I do as a parent to help facilitate my child’s language acquisition process?

  • Read, read, read with your child
  • Initiate social activities with families from other language backgrounds
  • Challenge your family to a specific amount of time each day to only speak in the non-native language(s)
  • Label places and objects around the house
  • Embrace local cultural interactions
  • Participate in after school language clubs, as offered
  • Utilize language software such as Rosetta Stone or Duolingo
  • Enroll in private language classes (CPI or language tutor)

What are some additional resources that I can use to inform myself about Dual Language Education?