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Archived Content from Conference Held in October 2012

Fourth International Conference on Language Immersion Education

Immersion 2012:
Bridging Contexts for a Multilingual World

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The 4th International Conference on Immersion Education held October 18-20, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Paul was a huge success! “Bridging Contexts for a Multilingual World” brought together immersion teachers, researchers and administrators to share research and best practices in one-way world language immersion, two-way bilingual immersion, and indigenous/heritage immersion for language and culture revitalization.

Pre-conference activities started on Wednesday, October 17 with special optional visits to six different immersion schools chosen to reflect the wide range of languages and levels offered in the Twin Cities area. These visits were the highlight for many educators who wanted to get a close-up view of successful immersion schools. In addition, a unique convocation of more than 45 invited researchers from around the world who specialize in language immersion education was held on Wednesday as a complement to the conference. The convocation was designed to further development of a research agenda with active researchers in the field, most of whom were already participating in the conference as presenters.

On Thursday, nineteen pre-conference workshops covering a wide variety of topics catering to K-16 teachers, administrators, and graduate students were offered to participants who wanted to maximize their time at the conference. On Thursday evening the conference opened with a welcome from University of Minnesota’s associate vice president and dean of International Programs, Meredith McQuaid, followed by a keynote speech given by Merrill Swain, professor emerita from the University of Toronto. An opening reception filled with great conversation and good food wrapped up the first night of the conference. On Friday and Saturday, the program was packed with options for participants: four thought-provoking plenaries, ten two-hour symposia and 85 paper/discussion sessions offered depth and breadth of programming for the three targeted program varieties. It is safe to say that conference organizers worked hard to ensure that there was something for everyone!

As with the past immersion conferences sponsored by CARLA, the conference program was very international and intentionally represented a wide variety of immersion education contexts. Of the five invited plenarists, two came from Canada, one from New Zealand, one from Washington D.C. and one from Florida. The planning committee recruited a dynamic line-up of 32 pre-conference workshop presenters who came from across the U.S., as well as from Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Final counts show that 684 people participated in the conference from 38 states and Washington D.C., and 18 countries including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. 

A few comments from participants include:

“This has been a life-changing experience as I’ve listened to and engaged with colleagues passionate and committed to bridging contexts for a multi-lingual world.”

“Thank you for this opportunity to share and learn and to create a place where we don’t have to explain or defend immersion as we try to expand our professional knowledge. We can always take a deep breath at CARLA immersion conferences—the immersion practitioner’s spa!”

“The CARLA conference was representative of multi-cultural/linguistic programs bringing together knowledge and expertise which provided worthwhile information. The number of sessions per day was more than the typical conference. There were more choices and the varied topics/issues/practices allowed one to find one that was most relevant. The networking opportunities were extensive because we came into contact so much.”

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The conference has been amazing. I feel like I am at ‘Dual Immersion Disneyland.’ Gathering all these leading researchers and practitioners is crucial to bridging the gaps and building better immersion opportunities for the future. Thank you for all your knowledge and your continued support.”

“This is my first CARLA immersion conference. This is exactly what I needed! It has helped to affirm what I’ve been doing right; challenge me to try new things; and provided me with additional information to take back to my colleagues, administration, and parent groups. GREAT JOB!”


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For those who were unable to participate, take advantage of online videos of the plenaries and selected symposia.

Conference Sponsors
The conference is sponsored by the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) at the University of Minnesota. The conference is cosponsored by the Minnesota Advocates for Immersion Network and the following University of Minnesota units: College of Education and Human Development; College of Liberal Arts; Global Programs and Strateg y Alliance; Department of Curriculum and Instruction; Second Languages and Cultures Education; Department of French and Italian; Department of Spanish and Portuguese; Institute for Global Studies; European Studies Consortium; and the Center for International Business Education and Research.

Conference Planning Committee
Conference Chair: Tara Fortune (CARLA)
Committee Members: Heidi Bernal (Adams Spanish Immersion Magnet, Saint Paul Public Schools), Nicole Boudreaux (Lafayette Parish Foreign Language Immersion Programs), Helena Curtain (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Ann Marie Gunther (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction), Ana Hernandez (CA State University-San Marcos), Brian McInnes (University of Minnesota- Duluth), Kathleen Mitchell (University of Minnesota), Silvia Romero-Johnson (Nuestro Mundo Community School, Madison, WI), Julie Sugarman (Center for Applied Linguistics), Sandra Talbot (Utah State Office of Education), Diane Tedick (University of Minnesota), Ofelia Wade (Utah State Office of Education), Alysse Weinberg (University of Ottawa), Molly Wieland (Hopkins Public Schools), Amy Young (University of Minnesota)


Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) • 140 University International Center • 331 - 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414