What is Language First Certification?

March 22, 2023

Talking about professional learning when it comes to being a dual language immersion teacher can feel overwhelming. After all, we’re responsible for attending and participating in all of the district-level pd related to curriculum adoptions and instructional practices to maintain uniformity, and we’re responsible for ensuring that we’re doing right by dual language immersion, staying up to speed on DLI-specific tools and strategies. Oftentimes, school districts prioritize the former when it comes to time and budget and leave the latter up to the DLI teachers themselves to do on their own time. DLI teachers from all around the nation will share that this leads to:

  • Disparate values/beliefs about what immersion is and how it works
  • Varied levels of understanding about DLI-specific instructional practice
  • Confusion about what from mainstream English programming can and can’t be applied in DLI
  • General sentiments that DLI isn’t fully supported or prioritized by the district/school


For these reasons (and more!), we at addalingua developed Language First Certification as a means for DLI teachers to quite literally be “speaking the same language” when it comes to DLI-specific instructional practices. If you’re not familiar with our Language First Approach, be sure to check out our webinar (link here: https://addalingua.com/watch-the-language-first-webinar/).

What is Language First Certification? We know better than anyone that professional learning shouldn’t be just an “event”. It’s a process. Our Language First Certification is a progression of three online courses which give DLI educators models of instruction that are grounded in research and informed by hundreds of dual language immersion practitioners across the United States.

These courses go way beyond the theoretical. We pride ourselves on the “why” behind Language First and back it up with how to implement it. But, don’t just take our word for it. Consider this reflection from Amanda Armsey, a Language First Certified practitioner and program advisor from Michigan:

Without understanding the “why” and “how” behind something, passion cannot thrive, and, as a result, methodology weakens. A teacher who strives to be a master of her craft, earning Language First Certification reassures me that the foundation of what I do every day in my classroom is strong, because it is built on comprehension of the “why” and “how.”

There are three levels to Language First Certification:

  • Level 1 – Foundations: Fundamental practices for dual language immersion educators is all about the exploration of Language First standards-based instruction. Participants explore values, beliefs, instructional planning ideas, and professional practices that support attainment of cultural competence, bilingual/biliterate proficiency, and academic achievement.
  • Level 2 – Applications: Student engagement strategies for dual language immersion classrooms is all about how to use models of instruction to implement strategies that promote high expectations. The course is all about how to engage students in Language First counterbalanced instruction at the granular levels so that classroom teachers know what to do to boost students’ target language proficiency while maximizing limited instructional time.
  • Level 3 – Extensions: Collective responsibility for dual language immersion programs strikes at the heart of a framework that helps programs find their “north star” with a common language to reflect on student data, set clear learning goals, and understand everyone’s roles as ambassadors of the program.


Each level is a six-week online course which includes a synchronous launch at the start, and involves between 18-20 hours of active participation in learning and activities. Each module is designed to equip educators with knowledge and skills related to the Language First Program Standards: program fidelity, dual language development, balanced biliteracy and counterbalanced instruction, and progress monitoring.

Participants love:

  • The connectedness: Peers meet in a synchronous launch session, and then explore new strategies, share ideas, and receive feedback from experienced facilitators.
  • The flexibility: Participants have multiple options to start at times that make sense for them by selecting a course the works with their schedules. We have pacing guides to support you, but there’s flexibility within the course so that you can decide your own completion speed. And, of course, participants have the option to work on the courses at home in their pajamas, or while at school on district pd days.
  • The practicality – Everything in these courses has been designed for application in YOUR specific context. The turnaround time participants report in being able to use the learning the very next day in their classrooms is astounding.


There’s nothing better than experiencing the magic that happens when dual language immersion teachers get together for the live launch at the start of their courses and chime in on one another’s discussion board posts throughout the module. There’s a real community in these courses, and we’re ready to welcome YOU! If you’re interested in more, check out the offerings on our website (link here: https://addalingua.com/splash-blank-parent/splash-pro-learning/), and reach out to us. Oh, and if you’re a DLI administrator looking to offer these courses on a custom calendar that meets your school/district needs, we’ve got you covered. Reach out to us and let us know what you’re thinking. We can’t wait to be a part of your school’s journey!

Learn more about the Language First approach by watching our webinar (link here).