Delaware and Languages
World language capacity is crucial to Delaware in order for the state to maintain and strengthen its domestic economy. Governor Jack Markell has spoken publicly about the importance of young Delawareans learning a world language, saying that Delaware graduates who enter the job market without the ability to speak a world language other than English are at a significant disadvantage. The Governor's World Language Expansion Initiative proposes an aggressive world language education plan that prepares Delaware students with the language skills to compete in an ever-changing global economy at home and around the world. In essence, Delaware will begin to graduate globally-competent students with advanced-level proficiency in languages, giving them an economic advantage in the multilingual and multicultural workforce of the 21st century. A part of this initiative involves beginning immersion programs in kindergarten in elementary schools across the state. Global Citizenship Video
More than forty years of research consistently documents the power of immersion education to help students attain high levels of world language proficiency. No other type of instruction, short of living in a non-English-speaking environment, is as successful. Young children especially thrive in this type of learning environment where learning a new language comes as naturally as learning their first one. World language immersion programs are also the least expensive way for schools and district to deliver high quality world language learning opportunities to their students. The Delaware World Language Immersion Program curriculum model engages students in two different languages throughout their elementary school learning experience: English and either Mandarin Chinese or Spanish. Speaking in Tongues Video
Delaware Immersion Model
World Language Immersion Programs offer a robust bilingual experience for young learners at the point in their cognitive development that is perfect for the acquisition of a new language. Students benefit from the instruction of two highly-qualified classroom teachers—one who will teach them for half of the day in English and the other for half of the day in the immersion language.
The English-speaking teacher will teach English Language Arts as well as select elements of science and social studies from the Delaware Recommended Curriculum and select elements of mathematics from the Common Core State Standards. The Immersion-language teacher will teach Language Arts for the immersion language, mathematics based on the Common Core State Standards, science and portions of the social studies curriculum. World Language Immersion students follow the same standards-based curriculum in all content areas that non-immersion students would follow in any other Delaware elementary classroom.
All Districts with Elementary World Language Immersion Programs have identified an uninterrupted K-12 Immersion pathway for students to continuously build toward advanced-level language proficiency. In the middle school, students will have a hybrid, online world language learning experience with Immersion language-speaking peers. In high school, immersion students will be able to take the AP Chinese or AP Spanish course in 9th grade and then participate in dual-enrollment or dual-credit courses with local universities.
What to Expect
World Language Immersion offers a rich bilingual experience for young learners when their minds are developmentally best able to acquire a second language; when their brains are hard-wired for language acquisition. Children at this age are adept at picking up language in meaningful contexts. In class, the Immersion-language teacher speaks only in that language and communicates using a wide range of engaging strategies including pictures, songs, games, body language, expressions, pantomime, drama, etc. After about halfway through kindergarten immersion study, students too will be encouraged to speak only in the immersion language during that portion of the day. From first grade forward both teachers and students will conduct all learning and conversations in the immersion language during that portion of the day. You will be delighted how quickly your child becomes a comfortable and competent speaker of either Chinese or Spanish.
Who Can Participate?
Delaware World Language Immersion Programs are open to all Delaware students of varying backgrounds and abilities. Applications are open to all students enrolling in Kindergarten at one of the participating Delaware elementary schools. Parents who feel that their child may have significant communication delays in their first language should seriously weigh the pros and cons of enrolling their child in an immersion program.
Middle School Immersion Continuation
Students in elementary immersion programs continue their immersion education throughout middle school and into high school.
For information about enrolling your child in one of the Delaware World Language Immersion Programs, contact a participating school. A list of current programs can be found via this link: Delaware Immersion Program Locations