What is immersion education?
Language immersion is an approach to
second language instruction in which acadamics are conducted in a second
language. The new language is both the vehicle of instruction as well as the
object of instruction.
Immersion students in the Prince
George’s County Public Schools acquire the necessary language skills to
understand and communicate about all subjects in the new or target language.
They follow the same curricula, and in some instances, use the same materials
(translated into the target language) as those used in the non-immersion
schools in our school system.
Why is immersion an effective second
Immersion education has been around
since the early 1950’s and a great deal of research has centered on second language
acquisition in various school settings. Begun in 1982 in Prince George’s County
Schools as a program within a school, our students have consistently gained top
honors on standardized tests in both French and English.
- Language is
acquired most effectively when it is learned in a meaningful social
- Important and
interesting content provides a motivating context for learning the new
language. Our students are eager to learn about dinosaurs, American
History, Environmental science, et al, so language learning becomes a
natural part of their learning experiences.
language acquisition, cognition and social awareness go hand in hand in
young children. By integrating language and content, second language
learning, too, becomes an integral part of a child's social and cognitive
- Since culture
and language learning go hand in hand, a remarkable byproduct of being in
an immersion school is the significant amount of cultural augmentation to
our students’ educational development.
What are the effects of immersion
A growing body of research on
immersion education has shown that immersion students consistently meet or
exceed academic expectations in the following areas:
language skills: Immersion students by far outperform students in
traditional foreign language classes. They are functionally proficient in
the immersion language and are able to communicate according to their age
and grade level.
language skills: In the early years of English instruction, there may be a
lag in English reading, writing, and spelling skills. The gap begins to
close once English instruction has begun, and by the end of elementary
school, immersion students do as well or better than students in
areas: Immersion students achieve in academic areas as well as students in
sensitivity: Immersion students are more aware of and show positive
attitudes towards other cultures.
Are there other immersion programs
in the U.S.?
According to the most recent survey
by the Center for Applied Linguistics, there are 263
immersion programs in 18 different languages. In Prince George’s County there
are two K through 8th grade total immersion schools, one Chinese Science Immersion program, and a
partial High School Immersion/International Baccalaureate Program.
Where can I get more information
about immersion education?
The Minnesota Advocates
for Immersion Network (MAIN) and the American Council on Immersion Education (ACIE)
web sites are excellent resources for parents considering immersion education for