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How to be a good immersion parent, part 6

Thank you so much for journeying along with us as we ask questions that get to the heart of successful dual language immersion programs. Today we explore a deep and rich final question:

What is your approach to bi-literacy development?

The relationship between student success in school and literacy skills is well documented. Recently, the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrations General Education Leadership General Education Leadership NetworkNetwork formed an Early Literacy Task Force. This task force compiled a series of practices that have been proven, at a statistically significant level, to grow student capacity with respect to literacy. The results of their findings, in traditional classroom settings can be found here.  (

Our team spent time examining these practices and exploring their adaptability to classrooms that focus on bi-literacy development. The result is a brilliant list of reflective questions, that can be asked of classroom teachers, administrators and program coordinators who are focusing on bi-literacy in their classrooms:

  1. How do you inspire your students to see themselves as readers and writers of the immersion language?
  2. How often do students have opportunities to collaborate with peers in reading and writing through conversations that are of high interest?
  3. What strategies do you use to model fluent reading (accuracy, pacing, inflection, automaticity, etc)?
  4. How do you target new vocabulary as you read aloud? What strategies do you use to make those new words accessible?
  5. How deep is your intentionality surrounding the diversity in the texts you currently possess? Do they reflect cultures of the students? Of the language of focus in your program?
  6. In what ways do you incorporate audio, print, and digital information into the classroom library?
  7. How do you engage students in specific, targeted instruction surrounding word attack skills for multi-syllabic words?
  8. In what ways do you monitor the negotiation of meaning? How do you monitor for syllable-by-syllable, word-by-word, or phrase-by-phrase reading?
  9. How do you explore and create variations on songs with rhymes, alliteration and syllables of focus?
  10. Do you encourage students to see syllables as “chunks” of sounds within words?
  11. How do you lesson plan for exposure to vocabulary instruction over time in order for students to begin to see how words relate to one another in and across contexts?
  12. How do you leverage the add.a.lingua grammar and word features to explore “thinking about language?”
  13. Do you follow the add.a.lingua K-5 assessment schedule and descriptors? How do you view those assessments? What do you do with the data once you have it?
  14. What is your standard of practice for keeping families informed about their students’ progress in both languages?
  15. How deeply do you know and understand second language acquisition and bi-literacy development? What steps are you taking to learn more?

This list is really just the tip of iceberg. Bi-literacy is a complex developmental process, but classrooms that actively attend to the strategies implied above are classrooms moving towards bi-literacy success for all students.

Thanks for joining us on this journey. We hope and trust that you’ve been able to actively ask (and answer) these questions with respect to your child’s immersion program. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can answer further questions for you!

~team add.a.lingua


Filed under: advocacy, dliparents, Uncategorized

About the Author

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Kristi Van Dyk is an immersion parent who is passionate about offering dual language immersion as an educational option to all schools and districts. The opportunity to raise bi-lingual children, despite her family’s lack of second language proficiency has expanded the dreams she and her husband have for the future of their children. It is this passion for real life change that Kristi brings to all of our new partner schools. Kristi’s educational training began at Hope College in education in the areas of English and Mathematics for elementary. Kristi pursued additional training in brain based curriculum development through the Midwest Brain and Learning Institute as well as an M.A. in educational administration from Western Michigan University. You can find Kristi connecting with new potential partners, sharing experience with new parents and assisting with training of new teachers.

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  1. Pingback: 6 questions parents should ask before enrolling their child in a dual language immersion program | add.a.lingua

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