As add.a.lingua has grown over the years to support 20 schools and districts, we’ve gleaned some important lessons about how to help learning communities effectively explore bringing dual language immersion education to their school or district. Our four-step new partner pathway is a distillation of much of our learning. We help schools do the important “why” work early–ensuring that the community understands and owns a vision for dual language immersion education.
Whether or not your school is exploring immersion education with add.a.lingua, there are some practices we’ve found helpful for school leaders and parents as they do their due diligence and work to keep stakeholders informed and involved. Below we’ve included a handful of these practices for leaders and parents to keep in mind as they explore dual language immersion education.
- Communicate early and often with your leadership and instructional team about the “why” and “how” of the exploration process.
- Clarify the role that various team members will play in the decision-making.
- Study the different models of immersion education (early total one-way, two-way, etc.), and how they relate to student outcomes and the threefold goal of dual language immersion. (Not all immersion models will deliver the same benefits to students.)
- Understand your context and how that might impact the immersion model you could sustain.
- Prepare for the opportunities (increased academic achievement, enrollment growth, etc.) and challenges (teacher recruitment, culture changes) that accompany the implementation of dual language immersion education.
- Establish a feedback process to gauge your community’s interest and enthusiasm for dual language immersion education after a period of education.
- Press for clarity on what research shows about different types of immersion models and student achievement.
- Seek a plan to support literacy in the immersion language and English.
- Work with your school to determine how language acquisition in the immersion language is measured.
- Talk to an administrator or parent with a child in a quality immersion program about how and why they do what they do.
- Inquire how a school with a strand program will work to integrate the immersion students and instructors into the school culture.
- Reflect on the language proficiency goals you have for your child, and inquire how the immersion model will support those goals.
For those of you who’ve been through the exploration process either as a teacher, administrator, or parent, what advice might you add to this list? Leave us a note in the comments.