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  • Immersion Education

    Immersion in PGCPS Home Page

      What is immersion education? 

    Language immersion is an approach to second language instruction in which academics 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 language model?  

    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 context.
    • 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.
    • First 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 development.
    • 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 education? 

    A growing body of research on immersion education has shown that immersion students consistently meet or exceed academic expectations in the following areas:

    • Second 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.
    • English 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 English-only classes.
    • Content areas: Immersion students achieve in academic areas as well as students in English-only programs.
    • Cultural 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 their child.