distance learning: maintain the fidelity of your immersion program

April 10, 2020

addalingua programs, no matter the circumstances, do their absolute best to implement the addalingua immersion model with fidelity. They’re driven to implement the addalingua frameworks. After all, the frameworks house what we affectionately call the “linguistic backbone” of our models. But with the sudden change to the structure of school as we know it, what must schools consider as they make plans? 

As a starting point, and just prior to the first statewide closures, we provided our partners with some general guidelines for our partner programs to consider first. After all, partnership with addalingua means that we’re on this immersion journey together. Some of the guidelines we shared are helpful to everyone as plans for distance learning get underway this spring across the United States.

general guidelines

1. screen time: Parents know their children better than anyone. It’s important to always remember that parents have the right to make determinations about how much time their children spend on screens at home when school is out.


2. be realistic: Families might be struggling to know or understand their child care situations and workplace circumstances, among other things, while school is cancelled. It is not appropriate to expect that parents become classroom teachers. Trust that every family will do their best to support their child’s learning, given their unique set of circumstances in trying times.


3. differentiate: addalingua suggests a mixture of online and tech-free options for students to engage in Spanish when school is closed. Expect families to engage in different ways.

While it’s true that a large majority of people in society have access to cell phones and/or other devices, many children might not have access at all. In what ways will you reach out to these students to stay connected? Flexibility with assignments and deadlines at a distance will help families do the best they can to illustrate their children’s engagement in learning throughout the day.

For families who might not have consistent access to technology, selecting a few tech-free options must remain a priority.

For many students, this might be their first time with online learning that takes place physically away from their teacher for extended periods during the school year.  Have patience with yourself as their learning guide online…and have patience with them as they try to navigate new waters.


4. attitude is everything: Although school cancellations will challenge everyone, try to make the most of it by experimenting with new things! Start small by recording yourself teaching a mini- lesson in Spanish on the computer and sending the families a link. Doing this daily will surely bring a lot of happiness to students (and parents!) who miss seeing you. You CAN do this!

Next, within those general guidelines, we wanted to affirm the laser-like focus on the three goals of dual language and immersion education: high levels of L2 proficiency, academic achievement, and cultural awareness and sensitivity. So, we set out to offer some initial ideas on how to keep the Spanish immersion teachers close to their students (even from a distance!), continue the learning, and further develop language capacity.

tech-based possibilities

  • Google classroom: Many already use features of Google classroom to interact with students and they complete and submit assignments. With this tool, the Spanish immersion classroom doesn’t have to feel too far away!
  • Google Hangouts: If your school uses Google, consider Hangout meetings as a way to stay up-to-speed with your students and their reading. Consider Hangouts (or regular phone calls!) as a way to confer with students in Spanish about their independent reading at home. 
  • GoTo Meeting: This video conference platform offers a free 14-day trial. Use it to hold classroom meetings with small groups of students (book clubs? math groups?) for “live” learning. 
  • Padlet: Functioning as an online bulletin board, you can use this platform to post questions (video or written) in Spanish to your students across the content areas in columns, and engage with them as they provide written and/or recorded responses!
  • FlipGrid: Consider posing a question in Spanish in a free Flipgrid, and share it with your students. They’ll be able to respond to you and their classmates in Spanish via video response. 
  • Filmed lessons in Spanish: Any of the core content areas is game here! Put yourself in front of your computer camera and teach your heart out in Spanish.  Read aloud to them the book you started in class, but maybe didn’t get to finish. Prompt the students to do some independent work, snap a photo of it, and either text it or email to you!

more great options

  • Book loans: If your situation permits it, consider loaning Spanish library books to your students!
  • Journal: Ask students to journal in a standard notebook in Spanish for every day that they’re away. Provide parameters and expectations for length of entry and quality level. Will you have them write in response to their independent reading? Or something else?
  • Friendly letters: Spread joy through ‘snail mail.’ Share with students the characteristics of a friendly letter, and then ask students to write one to you or a classmate in Spanish. Write them back and send it to them in the U.S. Mail!

Throughout these initial weeks, we’ve checked in with many addalingua programs via our online office hours, and we’re astonished by the great work they’re doing to keep students in Spanish as much as possible. Recently, we put together this blog post to celebrate their efforts and virtual instructional practice. We hope you’ll take some time to look through the ideas, be inspired by them, and grow them into something that meets the needs of your virtual immersion classroom space as well!