dual language immersion education: a potential game changer for ELL students

June 7, 2016

When the impressive results of a long-term study of Portland’s dual language immersion programs first came out last year, we offered five key take-aways on our blog. Following up on that research, Janie Carnock published an interview with Dr. Robert Slater, Co-Director of the American Councils Research Center (ARC) at the American Councils for International Education and a co-principal investigator of the study. The interview provides a helpful look into the quantitative and qualitative nature of the study.

While not all of Portland Public Schools’ immersion programs follow models supported by addalingua, the student outcomes are noteworthy and encouraging. The results further illuminate how dual language immersion education helps to address the persistent achievement gap for English language learner students (referred to in the article as “DLLs- dual language learners”) while providing all students with additive bilingualism.

We’d encourage you to peruse the whole interview, but we found the answers Dr. Slater provides to the last two questions very insightful:

What would you recommend to leaders looking to replicate or scale these programs?

Finding qualified teachers and building effective models is critical. Effectively scaling depends on maintenance of quality, including making sure that students have ample opportunities to use the partner language in the classroom. It’s not enough to just put together an immersion program and think it’s going to be successful without looking very carefully at what works and what doesn’t, finding qualified teachers, and giving them the support they need.

Given your findings, how do you think dual immersion stands to impact the field of PreK-12 education and DLLs in particular?

It has the potential to be a game changer. If you’ve got a program that produces significant results in reading, has no detriment in math and science, and has the potential to create bilingual students, that’s a pretty good outcome for an education program. With dual-language immersion, you have the potential here to dramatically address the issue of equity in access to quality education, particularly in elementary education. This is particularly important as we look at the shifting demographics of American students, with more and more non-native speakers of English. Dual-language immersion has an enormous potential to change outcomes, particularly for students whose native language is not English.

If you’d like to learn more about how addalingua supports additive immersion education for ELL students, click on the link below and we’ll be in touch.

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