Delaware Dual Language Immersion Programs

  • 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

    Why Immersion?

    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.

    Proven Advantages

    • World Language Proficiency

      Students achieve high levels of world language proficiency in the immersion language.  By enrolling in a Delaware World Language Immersion program, students are on a pathway to read, write, speak, and listen in another language at high intermediate proficiency level by the ninth grade when they take Advanced Placement language and its corresponding AP test.  By continuing study of the same language in high school, they can achieve advanced language proficiency skills and possibly earn credit towards a language minor at Delaware colleges and universities.

    • Improved Test Performance

      Research shows that immersion students perform as well or better than their non-immersion peers on standardized tests of English and mathematics, even when these assessments are delivered in English.

    • Enhanced Cognitive Skills

      Immersion students develop greater cognitive flexibility, demonstrating increased attention control, better memory and superior problem-solving skills, as well as an enhanced understanding of their first language. Cognitive Video    Recent News article

    • Increased Cultural Sensitivity

      Immersion students are much more aware of and show a more positive attitude towards different cultures and an appreciation of people who have different cultural perspectives and practices.  A survey of top international business executives done by the Center for Applied Second Language Studies at the University of Oregon in 2007 showed that multinational businesses are looking for potential high-level employees with cultural sensitivities and the skill to perform in a foreign environment. “What really counts for multinational businesses is employees’ ability to effectively communicate in a variety of cultures and contexts. Bilingual employees are valuable, not only for their language skills, but also for their ability to interact effectively with people around the world in either their first or second language.”

    • Long-Term Benefits

      Immersion students are better prepared for the global community and job markets where world language skills provide them with an economic advantage.  According to a Bloomberg study of most important languages for international business, Mandarin Chinese ranks first after English and Spanish ranks fourth.  Delaware professionals such as those in medicine, international trade, pharmaceuticals, the oil and gas industry, power industry, luxury good and other transportation technologies encompass extensive multilingual networks locally and around the world. As business relationships deepen between Delaware and other countries, having skills to communicate in Mandarin Chinese or in Spanish will be an invaluable economic advantage.

    Program Objectives

    • Maximize students’ proficiency in a world language in order for them to develop advanced-level language skills in secondary school
    • Provide a rich academic environment in both the English and Immersion-language classrooms
    • Develop students’ abilities to work successfully in multiple cultural settings
    • Offer a rich, culturally-diverse experience for the entire school community

    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.

    Parent Responsibilities

    • Commit to long-term participation in the immersion program so that your child can develop advanced-level language skills
    • Develop an understanding of immersion education
    • Read with your child in English 20-30 minutes daily
    • Encourage the use of the immersion language outside of school
    • Encourage community support
    • Enjoy the challenges and celebrate the results

    Middle and High School Immersion Continuation

    Students in elementary immersion programs continue their immersion education throughout middle school and into high school.

    Middle School Immersion Advisory Committee Summative Report
    High School Immersion Advisory Committee Summative Report 

    How to Enroll

    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

Last Modified on March 25, 2020