add.a.lingua believes in helping our immersion partner schools maximize the investment their communities have made in students becoming bilingual and biliterate during the elementary years. According to the current research, most immersion students in early total dual language immersion programs will reach “intermediate” levels of proficiency during kindergarten through fifth grade.
In fact, research conducted by two of add.a.lingua’s academic advisory board members, Dr. Tara Fortune and Dr. Diane Tedick, has demonstrated that without adequate time in the immersion language at the secondary (middle and high school) level, students actually plateau and lose the language skills they’ve gained in the elementary years. This loss of their second language skills often leads to student frustration with immersion courses as the gap between their language ability and grade level content expectations widens.
That’s why Dr. Tara Fortune recommended a minimum of three courses in the immersion language for middle and high school immersion programs when answering questions posed by founding partner school staff during her visit with add.a.lingua in January.
To better understand what Dr. Fortune and add.a.lingua mean by “intermediate” versus “advanced” levels of proficiency, and why additional time in the immersion language is critical, please take a moment to watch the screencast below that includes Tara Fortune’s insights about immersion education at the middle and high school levels.
Research continues to support immersion models that offer more and not less time in the immersion language at the secondary level. But as Tara Fortune notes, too often immersion programs are abandoning the language learner at the secondary level. It may be counterintuitive for adults who learned world languages in traditional foreign language courses, but Dr. Fortune makes clear that more time in the immersion language at the secondary level actually benefits students academically during courses conducted in their first language.
In keeping with our post discussing language proficiency expectations for immersion parents, here are a few suggestions for ensuring immersion programs do NOT abandon the immersion learner, and instead maximize their investment:
- advocate for a minimum of three hours of instruction in the immersion language throughout middle and high school years
- understand what research guides the immersion program model
- help educate fellow immersion parents about the goals of dual language immersion education by sharing our #dliparents blog posts
- raise the status of the minority language by valuing assessments that track students’ proficiency related to academic content in the immersion language
- further the cause of immersion education by expecting student outcomes that reflect adherence to best practice and research-based program models
- understand that students must reach high levels of proficiency in the immersion language in order to reap cognitive and academic benefits associated with bilingualism