Research & Programs

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Archived Content from Conference Held in October 2008 

Conference Themes

Theme I: Immersion Pedagogy 

A central issue in immersion pedagogy is how to ensure the development of both language and literacy during content-based teaching. This theme includes both theoretical and practical questions related to first and second language development and use in a variety of immersion settings. Here we will showcase teacher practice or action research and other types of classroom-oriented research to provide opportunities for researchers and practitioners to discuss pedagogical innovations that seek to address the challenge of promoting the development of second language and literacy. It will also provide a forum for preK-12 practitioners to share innovations and teaching strategies developed in their own classrooms that lend themselves for adaptation to a variety of immersion program models. 

Guiding Questions:

  • What do we know about the development of language and literacy in an immersion context?  Is initial literacy development in the L2 appropriate for learners with impairment and/or underdeveloped L1?
  • What forms of intervention are effective for immersion students who are experiencing difficulty learning to read in the L2?
  • What instructional practices facilitate a more inclusive classroom setting?
  • How do we identify/foster/assess transfer of reading skills from L1 to L2?
  • What do immersion teachers do that effectively promotes language development in the context of content teaching and learning?
  • In what ways does immersion pedagogy need to vary according to language and learner characteristics (e.g., grade level, learning style, issues of exceptionality, cultural and linguistic background, alphabetic vs. character-based languages, etc.) and program models (e.g., one-way, two-way, indigenous immersion; partial/full programs; early/mid/late programs)?
  • What pedagogical principles and practices do all immersion programs hold in common regardless of their particular type or audience?


Theme II: Culture and Identity

Intercultural awareness, student identities, and working across cultural differences are important concepts in immersion education. However, the political landscape can prove daunting to immersion educators seeking to address these often overlooked principles. Within this theme, topics to be addressed include: exploring how teacher and learner identities are constructed in the immersion context; examining issues of social justice and equity in the larger political arena; and providing practical measures that practitioners and administrators can implement at the program and classroom levels to help learners better understand the need for embracing diversity in the global village of the 21st century.

Guiding questions:

  • Are immersion students developing greater intercultural sensitivity and multilingual identities through sustained program participation?
  • What are some ways immersion teachers successfully position themselves (both insiders and outsiders to the language/culture they teach) as they teach both language and culture?
  • How can immersion programs move beyond the "heroes and holidays" approach to culture and identity and incorporate cultural equity and positive identity development as a core curricular component?
  • What are ways that immersion practitioners are finding success in addressing societal inequities among students of different social, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds at the program/school, district and community level?
  • How can topics such as prejudice reduction and equity pedagogy manifest themselves in immersion program planning and curriculum development?


Theme III:  Policy and Advocacy

Immersion educators are well aware of the impact that local and national policies have on their ability to implement effective programs. Because of the complex issues that surface in programs involving issues of language and culture, immersion educators have an ongoing need to advocate for their programs and address questions about what they do and why.  This theme will include critical and analytical perspectives on: language education policy and planning, legislative mandates, standards, the socially-situated nature of language and learning, and ways to advocate as immersion practitioners.

Guiding questions:

  • What role do the various stakeholders (teachers, parents, administrators, district-level policy makers, researchers, etc.) and program standards play in defining immersion locally and advocating for program quality and growth?
  • What factors contribute to a positive policy climate for immersion education?
  • In what ways do policy decisions regarding student language dominance and program eligibility affect program effectiveness?
  • How do community perceptions related to majority and minority language status impact program implementation and classroom practices?
  • How do current educational, economic, national security, and other federal and state policies affect the design and implementation of immersion programs?


Theme IV.  Program Design and Evaluation

Immersion practitioners are faced with a number of important program design and implementation issues that are the foundation of successful programming. Although all immersion programs have a number of program features in common, they also have distinct considerations. Practitioners need to understand how to align program design and implementation features effectively with specific purposes and student populations. This theme welcomes presentations about particular immersion program models, professional preparation and development, program leadership, and other internal and external challenges pertaining to program design, implementation, growth, and evaluation.

Guiding questions:

  • How does the sociopolitical context influence the choice of a particular program model or partner language?
  • How does one establish and maintain an environment that fosters additive bilingualism or multilingualism and cross-cultural appreciation or Native culture revitalization within a program?
  • What are the essential criteria and important instructional design features for effective and articulated program design and development across preK-12 settings?
  • How do programs address the needs of students with diverse backgrounds (socioeconomic, linguistic, amount of formal schooling, special needs)? What is known about immersion for children with special learning needs? What questions remain?
  • What skills, dispositions and knowledge should be developed in immersion teacher preparation and in-service professional development programs?
  • What evaluation methods and tools can be used to support and strengthen immersion programs?

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