|Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)|
Welcome to the CARLA-MAIN web pages, an online resource created by and for immersion educators and researchers. The Immersion Projects at the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota has been collaborating with the Minnesota Advocates for Immersion Network (MAIN), a body representing immersion teachers, administrators, and researchers since 1997. This joint project, created to address some of the concerns frequently voiced by educators, parents, and community members about language immersion programs, was made possible by a grant from the University of Minnesota’s Office for Public Engagement.
The web pages are organized in a question-response format. Responses come from two sources: first, an overview of the research and literature available for any given topic and, second, the experiences of practitioners in the field who are currently administrators in immersion schools in Minnesota and who have also, by and large, been classroom teachers. To generate the questions, we invited administrators to brainstorm and then rank order topics or hot-button issues that had consistently come up during monthly meetings of MAIN. Following input from this group of experienced immersion practitioners, which included write-in comments, we developed detailed questions that were posed to four focus groups, three for administrators and one for parents. The participants in the focus groups are listed in our acknowledgements section. The focus group discussions were transcribed and a synthesis of the answers was created for each question. The questions and responses appear here and can be accessed using the menu at left.
When possible and relevant, we have included links to articles from the archives of CARLA’s American Council on Immersion Education (ACIE) Newsletter.
The supporting research and literature review that precedes practitioner responses was developed and written by Tara Fortune, Immersion Projects Coordinator at CARLA. While this section will provide readers with useful research-based information about each topic, it is important to recognize that many day-to-day issues of practitioner concern have little or no research base. Moreover, whatever literature does exist must be carefully assessed for its relevancy to your particular circumstances and program model.
As you read through the questions and responses on these web pages please bear in mind that our focus group participants primarily work in one-way foreign language immersion settings although we did include one group of two-way immersion practitioners. The schools represented range from newly opened elementary immersion schools to K-12 programs that have been educating in the immersion/partner language for a decade or more. Older programs not surprisingly offered different responses to our queries than newer schools just as student demographics, district size, community setting, language of instruction and a myriad other factors influence the daily decisions administrators must make. It is crucial, therefore, to note that the views and recommendations expressed by our focus group participants may not be relevant or appropriate to your specific situation. We suggest that you carefully assess the applicability of what you read here to the context of your school.
Kimerly Miller and Tara Fortune