questions immersion parents should be asking, part 4

April 28, 2016

We’re continuing our series on how to be a great immersion parent by suggesting another question that parents should be asking as they evaluate if a dual language immersion education program is right for their child:

How do school leaders raise the status of the immersion language within their school system? 

A school’s culture educates every bit as much as its curriculum. That’s why we encourage parents who are evaluating immersion programs to look for ways in which the school is intentionally developing unity among languages and cultures. Schools that take steps to raise the status of the immersion language help to accomplish one of the threefold goals of immersion education: cross-cultural competency.

addalingua encourages our partner schools to think creatively about how to include the immersion language in its programs. The following are some examples of how add.a.lingua partner schools are working to elevate the status of immersion language by intentional cross-pollination of programs, language, and culture:

  1. FLES programs – When an immersion program operates alongside a traditional English program, some our of partner schools have implemented a FLES program (Foreign Language in the Elementary School) to offer language education to those students in the traditional program. By providing all students some access to a second language, the school demonstrates its universal commitment to the immersion languages and cultures.
  2. School signage – take a look at the signs around the school. By offering instructions in multiple languages (even consider putting the minority language FIRST, above English), you implicitly convey the value placed on language learning. This small change will communicate volumes to all those who pass through your doors.
  3. Programs/musicals –  Allowing the immersion students to perform/sing/act in the language they are acquiring is incredibly powerful. This could be one to two songs as a part of the entire musical performance, or as your program grows, it could include a complete play in the immersion language. When school leaders weave the immersion language  into the fabric of the school, they help create an incredibly inclusive community.
  4. Communication – Sending home school publications in two languages (especially in schools operating in a 90/10 two way model) is critical to conveying messages of dignity and worth to all members of the school family. See this example from our partner school, Holland Language Academy at Van Raalte.
  5. Maintaining the integrity of the model – By remaining in the target language at all times, a classroom teacher communicates deep value and worth to the minority language. This may require additional effort but it’s energy well placed as it values a language and culture which might not otherwise have a voice.

Take a moment to listen to this chapel song recorded at one of our partner schools. Each teacher encouraged his/her students learn a common song in their language of instruction. At chapel, all students were able to sing together and three languages were represented, honored and valued.



Do you have an example of how schools with immersion and traditional programs operating side by side can work together and honor both languages and language learners? Let us know in the comment section below.

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