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Archived Content from Conference Held in October 2012

Immersion 2012: Bridging Contexts for a Multilingual World

Conference Themes
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Theme I: Immersion Pedagogy and Assessment

A central issue in immersion pedagogy is how to ensure and assess the development of language and literacy during subject matter teaching. This theme includes theoretical and practical questions related to bi- and multilingual 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 to discuss pedagogical innovations and classroom assessment practices that seek to address the challenge of promoting development of language proficiency and literacy. It will also provide a forum for preK-20 practitioners to share new practices, technology applications, and teaching and assessment strategies developed in their own classrooms that lend themselves for adaptation to a variety of immersion program models. 

Critical Questions:

  • What pedagogical principles and practices do all immersion programs hold in common regardless of their particular type or audience?
  • What pedagogical strategies increase student use of the minority language for both academic and social purposes?
  • What curricular, instructional, technology-supported and assessment practices promote continuous language growth across grades and levels?
  • When, in what ways and to what extent might students’ first language facilitate language development and learning?
  • How is initial literacy best developed in immersion contexts?
  • What curricular, instructional and assessment practices create a more inclusive classroom setting?
  • What forms of intervention are effective for immersion students who are experiencing difficulty learning to read in a second language?


Theme II: Culture, Identity, and Community

Intercultural awareness, participant identities, and building relationships through and across cultural differences are important ideologies in immersion education. However, sociopolitical landscapes may impede the efforts of immersion educators seeking to address these sometimes contentious principles. Within this theme, topics to be addressed include: exploring how participant identities are constructed in the immersion context; examining issues of social justice, equity and belonging in the larger sociopolitical arena; and providing practical measures that practitioners can implement at the program and classroom levels to help the immersion community better embrace diversity in our increasingly interconnected world.

Critical questions:

  • How do immersion students develop 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 do 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 to successfully address societal inequities among students of different socioeconomic, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds? Why and how are these successful? Examples may include critical approaches at the classroom, school, district, and/or community levels. 
  • How does immersion education impact the identity of its participants and their community?


Theme III: Program Design, Leadership, 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, learner populations and community needs. This theme welcomes sessions about particular immersion program models, professional preparation and development, program administration and leadership, and other internal and external challenges pertaining to program design, implementation, growth, assessment and program evaluation.

Critical questions:

  • What challenges exist for leaders of various immersion program models and in what ways have leaders effectively overcome these challenges?
  • What school-wide assessment and program evaluation methods and tools can be used to support and strengthen immersion programs?
  • How can programs facilitate meaningful parent, family, and community involvement? 
  • What instructional designs have proven effective in articulating immersion programs across educational levels, promoting a preK-20 sequence?
  • How do programs address the needs of and assure accessibility for students from diverse backgrounds (socioeconomic, linguistic, cultural, educational, cognitive, developmental)?
  • What skills, dispositions and knowledge need to be developed in immersion teacher preparation and in-service professional development programs?


Theme IV.  Policy, Advocacy, and Communications

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

Critical questions:

  • What factors contribute to or impede a positive policy climate for immersion education at local, state, and national levels?
  • What are effective ways for immersion stakeholders to communicate about and advocate for program quality and growth?
  • How do current local, state, and federal standards and policies affect the design and implementation of immersion programs?
  • In what ways are policy makers and program stakeholders facilitating immersion teacher recruitment, licensure and hiring practices?
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Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) • 140 University International Center • 331 - 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414