The Possible Unintended Consequences of Two-Way Immersion Education Programs

The secret in education lies in respecting the student. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last month, UNC School of Education Assistant Professor Claudia G. Cervantes-Soon published an article entitled A Critical Look at Dual Language Immersion in the New Latin@ Diaspora in Bilingual Research Journal. Cervantes-Soon’s article surveys educational research literature to uncover how the popularity of dual language programs, referred to here as two-way immersion (TWI) education programs, may be impacting the equity of Latin@ children despite the well-intended efforts.

TWI programs “aim to support the English development and native-language maintenance of language minority students while simultaneously offering English-speaking children the opportunity to acquire a foreign language in the same classroom” (Cervantes-Soon, 2014, 64). This literature review examines whether these TWI programs are quality alternatives to English as a Second Language classrooms or if instead, these programs commodify Latin@ students as linguistic resources, focusing primarily on the second language acquisition of the English-speaking students.

Cervantes-Soon looked at national data, as well as focusing on the state of North Carolina, as the rapidly growing Latin@ population within the state that has placed it among one of the fastest growing nationally. Thomas and Collier (2012) recently cited North Carolina’s TWI programs as being astoundingly effective.

Here are some key points to take away:

  • All TWI education programs need to focus on critical consciousness and social justice; otherwise, there is the potential for disempowerment of Latin@ students.
  • TWI programs must look beyond language acquisition in order to teach students to use language to address global concerns, such as promoting peace, reducing poverty, and defending human rights (Cervantes-Soon, 2014).
  • TWI programs should focus on biculturalism more than bilingualism as a way to build goals beyond bilingualism.
  • Cervantes-Soon calls for more research in the area of identifying ways “to tap into new Latin@ communities to establish locally grown, bilingual/bicultural teacher pipelines” (2012, p. 79).

Cervantes-Soon, C. G. (2014). A Critical Look at Dual Language Immersion in the New Latin@ Diaspora. Bilingual Research Journal37(1), 64-82.

About the Researcher:Unknown


Cervantes-Soon’s teaching and research interests revolve around pedagogical practices that address the needs and concerns of culturally and linguistically diverse learners in U.S. schools and subaltern young women in the borderlands. Her research interests include bilingual and ESL education, minority issues in education, teacher development, critical pedagogy, Latina/Chicana feminisms, and language education policy.