Bilingual Education, Immersion & Multicultural Education

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  • 0:05 Approaches to…
  • 0:30 Background of Language…
  • 1:12 Immersion Approach
  • 3:16 Bilingual Education Approach
  • 4:17 Multicultural Education
  • 5:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Melissa Hurst

Melissa has a Masters in Education and a PhD in Educational Psychology. She has worked as an instructional designer at UVA SOM.

Educators use many approaches for second-language instruction. The approaches vary based on the individual needs of the learner, focusing on his or her current language abilities, background, and cultural experiences. This lesson will differentiate between the different types of second-language instruction, including immersion, bilingual education, and multicultural education.

Approaches to Bilingual Education

Andi, our third grade teacher, is back. She is becoming quite the educator, and now she is pondering a new question: How do children learn a second language? Andi is in luck - the school she teaches in offers three approaches for second-language instruction. Let's follow Andi as she visits these classrooms to learn more about the different approaches to second-language instruction.

Background of Language Education

The second-language instruction method of immersion can involve different levels

Language education is defined as the instruction and learning of a second or foreign language. Researchers agree that early second-language instruction helps promote the mastery of correct pronunciation and grammatical concepts. However, there are many situations in which early second-language learning cannot or does not occur.

Students enrolling in schools in the United States are more and more diverse. Educators should be aware of the various approaches to introduce a second language. The approaches covered in this lesson are immersion, bilingual education, and multicultural education.

Immersion Approach

The first approach to second-language instruction is immersion. Immersion is the approach in which students hear and speak the second language almost exclusively in the classroom.

There are different time periods for immersion education:

  • Early immersion occurs when students begin the second language from 5 or 6 years old.
  • Middle immersion occurs when students begin the second language from around 9 or 10 years old.
  • Late immersion occurs when students begin the second language between the ages of 11 and 14.

There are also differing formats for immersion education:

Complete immersion is when 100% of the class time is spent in the foreign language. The goals of complete immersion include becoming completely functional in both the foreign language and the first language while mastering the subject areas being taught (e.g. math or science).

Partial immersion is when approximately 50% of the class time is spent learning subject matter in the foreign language. The goals are to become functionally proficient in the second language, to master subject content taught in the foreign languages, and to acquire an understanding of and appreciation for other cultures, but to a lesser extent than complete immersion programs.

Bilingual education involves teaching students in their native and second languages simultaneously
Bilingual Education

Content-based foreign languages is when about 15-50% of the class time is spent in the foreign language. Time is spent learning the language and subject matter in the foreign language. The emphasis in these programs, which are typically seen in elementary schools, is on acquiring listening, speaking, and writing skills.

And finally, foreign language experience is when around 1-5% of the class time is spent in the foreign language. The emphasis in these programs is on cultural awareness, listening skills, and developing an interest in foreign languages.

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