steps to increase time and intensity in the immersion language from home

May 13, 2020

At addalingua, we pride ourselves on an engaged team of teachers, school leaders, coaches, directors, families, etc. who apply specific knowledge, research, tools, and practices to support a high-quality language immersion experience for all students. In fact, we’re SO emphatic about this “team” mentality that, if the addalingua program and supports were a basketball game with schools enacting the offense, we’re confident that we’ve got a winning strategy for students. We’re in this together.

But, as of late through this COVID-19 pandemic, to some in the immersion world, it might feel as though immersion programming has been put on defense. After all, the two star players in language development, time and intensity, have taken big hits in the game as a result of school closures. So, how are families in addalingua programs navigating this new game tempo and format with these two key players of time and intensity being reduced?

enter: counterpressure

Members of our addalingua team have talked with people from all around the network — teachers, parents, administrators, program coordinators, etc. We’ve discussed ways in which addalingua programs are serving students well by applying counterpressure: adding as much time and intensity as possible through meaningful online learning experiences. They do this not to simply state “stay in the game,” but to make it a dynamic one for students. 

As immersion parents ourselves, we know that you, too, are looking for ways to “up the game” at home from now until the end of the school year, and keep students’ exposure to the immersion language going through the summer months. Check out some strategies that will support those key players of time and intensity!

power plays: steps to increase time & intensity

  1. First, calculate how much time your child currently spends in the immersion language per day while learning from home.
  2. Then, think about ONE REALISTIC GOAL. If your goal is to add 20-30 minutes to what they currently experience, at what time of day will you do so? Consistency is key.
  3. Consider intensity (or quality/rigor). What approaches can you take to ensure that the language your child is exposed to is of authentic quality? Authentic texts (printed or online) from Spanish-speaking countries offer linguistic and cultural benefits that can’t be denied.
  4. Decide on a power play: Will the added time be online or through other means? Check out some options below to get started!


Only your family knows what is considered acceptable use and amount of time on screens. Make sure that your goals for increased time and intensity in the immersion language nest within your family’s guidelines and expectations, and align with the expectations of your immersion program. 

  • streaming: Increase time spent listening to the language through age-appropriate videos in the immersion language.
    • examples: Netflix has a variety of programs for children of different ages. 
      • The Magic School Bus Rides Again: Rated TV-Y
      • Brain Child: Rated TV-G
      • The Who Was? Show: Rated TV-PG
  • online: There are a variety of YouTube Kids channels that provide fun and lighthearted videos in Spanish for young children.
  • websites & online text in Spanish: 

tangible or interactive experiences

As the summer months near, consider ways to remain mindful of the resources available in your community. 

  • rotating library: Do you have a handful of books in Spanish that your children have already read? Does your child’s classmate have a handful of their own? If so, arrange a contact-free book swap! It’s a great way to increase access to the language without breaking the bank!
  • distance tutoring: Follow your state’s safety guidelines for any and all in-person interactions. If in-person options that abide by social distancing guidelines are not yet an option in your state, consider online one-on-one tutoring with a teacher or educational assistant from your school. 
  • pen pals: Ask your child’s teacher to link your student with another student for a summer pen pal opportunity. Have your child commit to writing one letter each week in the immersion language to his friend. Your child (and his friend!) would write and receive one letter each week!
  • daily journal: Just as you encourage your child to read in the immersion language, ensure that they write daily in the language, too. Language input and output matter when it comes to growing linguistically.


The immersion education game feels different now, and it’s not possible to fully replicate the entire school day in this new format. We can count on the fact that steals, setbacks, breakaways, time-outs, and full-court presses will happen. But, what matters more than all of that is our WHY. You as a parent have a reason for WHY you enrolled your child in an immersion program. It’s because of that WHY, that a tough COVID-19 defense won’t stop you or your child from reaching your goals.

You’ll do the best you can with what you have by relying on your team of school leaders, teachers, and support staff.

You’ll seek opportunities to increase time and intensity in the immersion language in the best way you can until school is back in session and we’re on the court that we all know and love.

And, by doing those two things, you’ll be applying the counterpressure and running. the. offense.