Motivating English-language learners to use their Spanish is a bigger challenge than getting them to improve their English in some two-way immersion programs, according to a book published recently by the Center for Applied Linguistics. The book, Realizing the Vision of Two-Way Immersion: Fostering Effective Programs and Classrooms, profiles four schools with two-way immersion programs, also known as dual-language programs. These are programs in which children who are dominant in English and children who are dominant in Spanish learn both languages in the same classrooms. In many school districts, such programs have become the favored model of bilingual education. (I wrote about the research on such programs in February 2005.)
In focus groups, the perspectives of teachers “ran counter to the perspective of many Americans, who believe that Spanish speakers are reluctant to learn or speak English,” the researchers write in the book. Teachers saw that “outside pressures--from peers, parents, testing and curriculum mandates, U.S. society--make it difficult for students to resist the pull toward English,” they said.
The researchers describe program elements that they conclude have led to the success of the four profiled schools in producing students who are truly bilingual. For example, they say that such programs not only explicitly teach literacy skills but involve students in learning activities in which language objectives are meshed with academic content objectives.
The book can be ordered for $17.95 here.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.