Research & Programs

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Immersion Education:
Pathways to Bilingualism & Beyond

October 16-18, 2008
Crowne Plaza Hotel Riverfront
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Archived Content from Conference Held in October 2008 

After the 2008 Immersion Conference!

The Immersion Conference held October 16-18, 2008, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Paul was a huge success!

The conference started on Wednesday, October 15th with special optional visits to five different immersion schools. These visits all had robust attendance and were the highlight for many educators who wanted to see immersion schools "in action."

On Thursday, October 16th, sixteen pre-conference workshops were offered, all of which were very well-attended and well-received. That evening the conference was kicked off with a keynote speech given by Myriam Met, which was followed by a reception and a short program given by students at three immersion schools in the metro area.

As hoped, the conference was very international and robust: it featured six plenary speakers and 30 pre-conference workshop presenters who came from across the U.S. and countries around the world including Canada, Finland, Hong Kong and New Zealand. Nine two-hour symposia and 79 paper/discussion sessions offered depth and breadth of programming for all 3 branches of immersion education: One-way (foreign language), two-way (bilingual immersion) and indigenous (language and culture revitalization) immersion. Final counts showed that 650 people came to the conference from 31 states and 13 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, and New Zealand.

A few comments from participants:

"Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all of your leadership and vision in planning, organizing and running what I would consider one of the most meaningful and pertinent conferences for immersion educators. Being on sabbatical this year in Tokyo I obviously hesitated spending the time and money to make the trip, but I am so glad I did. Connecting with colleagues across the country and beyond on immersion issues and projects helped me tremendously in terms of regaining my focus and passion professionally."
~Michael Bacon, Portland Public Schools

"Congratulations on a very successful conference! You outdid yourselves. I haven't attended a conference with so much applicable knowledge in a long time! It was by all measures a wonderful success."
~Greg Anderson, St. Paul Public Schools

"This international conference has opened my eyes to the successes of immersion education around the globe. It was very encouraging and pushes me more to continue what I do daily."

"Wow! Fantastic interplay between the academic and the practical in terms of the 'latest' in immersion education."

"I would really like to express my appreciation for all the hard work that went into putting this conference together. Everyone that I've talked to has also felt this to have been a very well-organized, informative conference. Kudos."

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A Virtual Visit to the Conference

The planning committee is currently gathering conference handouts and powerpoint slides from presenters who are willing to share them and these will be posted on the session information pages by the end of the calendar year. Go to the Conference Schedule page and search for a presenter/presentation.

You may also want to visit the pre-conference workshops page for handouts/PowerPoints, and watch the Fred Genesee plenary video!

There are also photos in the CARLA photo archives!

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*Edited Volume on Immersion Education*

Call for Papers for Edited Volume on Immersion Education
"Immersion Education: Pathways to Bilingualism & Beyond"

We are hoping that the recent CARLA-CAL conference -- "Immersion Education: Pathways to Bilingualism and Beyond" -- will serve as a catalyst for the publication of an edited volume on immersion education. In addition to showcasing the work of our featured speakers and some of the excellent papers that are being presented in concurrent sessions, we would welcome submissions from individuals whose work is not being presented at the conference. Papers will be organized in the volume according to the four conference themes: Immersion Pedagogy; Culture and Identity; Policy and Advocacy; Program Design and Evaluation.

If you wish to have your paper considered for inclusion in the edited volume, please email a complete manuscript by January 31, 2009 to one of the editors (addresses below). The paper should be no longer than 30 pages, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins, and should be presented in standard APA format. Include a cover sheet with the title of the manuscript, name, address, office and home telephone numbers, e-mail address, and full name of the institution where each author is employed.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by e-mail.

Tara Fortune (                   Donna Christian (

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Language immersion education has emerged as a uniquely constituted, highly effective program model for launching students on the road to bilingualism, multilingualism and intercultural competence. School-based immersion programs follow a variety of paths, including one-way foreign language immersion, two-way bilingual immersion, and indigenous immersion for language and culture revitalization. While each pathway targets distinct socio-cultural contexts and educational needs, all are grounded in a set of core characteristics with a strong focus on subject matter learning as well as language development. (Read more about how conference organizers further define immersion program models based on the literature.)

Under the leadership of two national centers in the U.S., CARLA (Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, University of Minnesota) and CAL (Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, D.C.), this third international conference on immersion education brought these various immersion pathways together to engage in meaningful dialogue and professional exchange across languages, levels, learner audiences, program models and sociopolitical contexts.

The conference was organized around four overarching themes:


Immersion Pedagogy


Culture and Identity


Policy and Advocacy


Program Design and Evaluation

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"Thank you" to the Sponsors and Planning Committee!

Conference Sponsors:

The conference was sponsored by the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) and the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL). The conference was also supported by Minnesota Advocates for Immersion Network and the following University of Minnesota co-sponsors: College of Education and Human Development; College of Liberal Arts; Office of International Programs; Center for German and European Studies; China Center; Institute for Global Studies; Department of Curriculum and Instruction and Second Languages and Cultures Education; Department of French and Italian; Department of German, Scandinavian, and Dutch; and Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies.

Conference Planning Committee:

Iran Amin (Montgomery County Public Schools), Nicole S. Boudreaux (Lafayette Parish Foreign Language Immersion Programs), Donna Christian–Co-Chair (CAL), Maureen Curran Dorsano (Normandale Elementary French Immersion School), Diane Dagenais (Université Simon Fraser/Simon Fraser University), Tara Fortune–Co-Chair (University of Minnesota - CARLA), Mary Hermes (University of Minnesota-Duluth), Mandy R. Menke (University of Minnesota), Kimerly Miller (CARLA), Julie Sugarman (CAL), Diane Tedick (University of Minnesota), Luis Versalles (Richfield Public Schools)

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