Dual Language Immersion Program

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Today, more of the world’s population speaks more than one language. Up to 66 percent of the world’s children are raised bilingual.

Dual Immersion Program

The Dual Language program at Thorman Elementary is a 90/10 Two-Way Immersion Program — our classrooms consist of an equal number of native English-speaking and native Spanish-speaking students. Our teachers are highly qualified and state certified to teach in two languages. Our focus of instruction is not on the learning of two languages, but rather on the learning of academic content by using two languages.

The 3 main goals of our program:

  • Students will achieve bilingual proficiency in both English and Spanish
  • Students will reach high levels of academic achievement in both languages
  • Students will become cross-cultural ambassadors for our school, community, and society.

Our Mission:

Our 90/10 Dual Language program creates academically competent, bilingual, and biliterate students through research-based practice and differentiated instruction. We will achieve our program goals while enriching all second language learners in a cross-cultural environment.

Program Benefits

  • Students achieve proficiency in both English and Spanish
  • Students achieve academically at or above grade level in both languages
  • Students develop cross-cultural understanding and respect, as well as experience working and playing in a multi-cultural setting
  • Parents are encouraged to take an active role in their child’s long-term education
  • Biliteracy gives students greater career opportunities
  • Learning a second language helps develop strong thinking and reasoning skills useful for problem-solving in math and science
  • Students develop a high level of self-esteem and confidence
  • Biliteracy helps prepare students to meet the challenges of a global society


Additional Program Information


Extensive research in the U.S. and Canada has shown consistently that English-speaking students in Dual Language programs achieve the same or higher levels of proficiency in English as students in English only programs. (Genessee, 2004; Paradis, Genesee & Crago, 2010).

Most studies that have compared the academic achievement of EL’s in Dual Language versus English-only programs have found that students receive bilingual instruction in elementary school are as or more successful academically than students in English-only programs. Most long-term studies report that the longer students stay in a Dual Language program and the more instruction they have in the home language, the more positive are their academic outcomes. Some important research findings on the academic achievement of EL’s in Dual Language programs reports:

  • EL’s in late elementary and middle school have found they score significantly higher than EL’s in general on norm-referenced and criterion-referenced state tests in mathematics and they perform on par with English-speaking students in English-only classrooms. (Block, 2007; Lindholm-Leary & Howard, 2008; Gomez, Freeman, & Freeman, 2005; Howard and Sugarman, 2007).
  • EL’s with high level of bilingual proficiency also attain high levels of academic achievement (e.g., Lindholm-Leary & Howard, 2008; Genesee & Lindholm-Leary, 2012).

A study done in 2013 by Marian, Shook and Schroeder (attached) presents findings that minority-language and majority-language students enrolled in a dual immersion program show improved math and reading performance on standardized tests in English. In addition to the potential improvements in academic performance, dual immersion students also stand to gain proficiency in both languages of instruction. This ability to communicate in two languages and interact with a larger proportion of the population is likely an asset for these students as they enter an increasingly globalized world. The study concludes that two-way immersion models are beneficial in multiple ways and should be seriously considered when designing and implementing educational programs.


  • Research on bilingualism shows that students with high levels of bilingual proficiency exhibit elevated levels of academic and cognitive functioning in comparison to students with monolingual or low bilingual skills.
  • In dual language programs and in synthesis research, there are significant positive correlations in achievement across the 2 languages: students who achieve at the highest levels in English are the ones who achieve at the highest levels in Spanish.
  • EL students in English only programs had the lowest proficiency in English, the lowest achievement in English, and the highest school dropout.
  • More Spanish in the instructional day leads to higher achievement in Spanish and higher levels of bilingualism which leads to achieving higher levels in English.

Program Design


Dual Language 90/10 Model

The Dual Language Program at Thorman Elementary follows a 90/10 research based model. That means that in the primary years of school (kindergarten and first grade) 90% of instruction is delivered in Spanish, while 10% is provided in English. As each year progresses after first grade, the time in English instruction increases by 10% per year to achieve a 50% Spanish and 50% English ratio by 5th grade.

Dual Language classrooms are integrated with an equal number of English- and Spanish-speaking students. In preschool, kindergarten and 1st grade, students learn in Spanish for the majority of their day. Gradually more subjects are added to the English part of their day. Students begin formal English reading instruction in 3rd grade. By the 5th grade, instruction is evenly divided between Spanish and English. Students may learn History and Science in Spanish, while they study Math and Language Arts in English.

Students in Thorman’s Dual Language Program learn the same core curriculum that is taught in mainstream English-only classrooms. The only difference is that Spanish is the language used for instruction. Academics are fully integrated with Thorman’s mainstream education program with the goal of meeting and exceeding both District and State standards in all subject areas in both languages.

The DL Program treats bilingual/biliterate skills as an asset. Students who are bilingual and biliterate not only have the opportunity to improve their chances for academic and career success, but also to develop cross-cultural understanding and respect.