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Integration in Two-way Immersion

Education: Equalising Linguistic Benefits
for All Students
Ester de Jong and Elizabeth Howard
Gainesville, FL, USA
As bilingual enrichment programmes that integrate language majority and language
minority students, two-way immersion (TWI) programmes have the potential to
overcome the harmful effects of segregation and remedial education that are the
frequent byproducts of educational programmes for native speakers of languages

other than English. Native/non-native speaker integration is considered essential in
these programmes to achieve positive academic, linguistic and cross-cultural

outcomes for all students, but these benefits have been largely assumed by educators
and programme developers. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the
distribution of the linguistic benefits of student integration in TWI classrooms. We

argue that, in the absence of a bilingual perspective that takes into consideration
issues of differential language status and language acquisition contexts, TWI

classrooms may fail to optimise language learning opportunities for all students,
particularly for language minority students and in the minority language. We
conclude by highlighting programmatic and instructional features that serve to
equalise the linguistic benefits of these integrated classrooms.

doi: 10.2167/beb516.0 D
Keywords: two-way immersion, additive bilingualism, bilingualism, dual
language immersion


A long-standing policy dilemma in the schooling of immigrant children has

been how to provide specialised instruction that meets this groups specific
linguistic and cultural needs while avoiding the negative impact of a
segregated programme. When first implemented in the 1960s, two-way

immersion (TWI) programmes were heralded by many in the USA as the

solution to this dilemma. TWI is an integrated model of bilingual education

where native English speakers (language majority students) and native

speakers of a minority language (language minority students) are educated

together for most or all of the day, and receive content and literacy instruction
through both English and the minority language. Its goals include academic

achievement, bilingualism and biliteracy development, and cross-cultural

competence for all students. As the model integrates students from different

native language backgrounds (and frequently from different socioeconomic

and racial/ethnic backgrounds as well) and provides an enriched education

for all students, TWI avoids the stigma of segregation and remediation
associated with many other programmes designed for English language

1367-0050/07/00 001-21 $20.00/0 2007 E. de Jong and E. Howard

The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism Vol. 00, No. 0, 2007

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2 The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

learners (ELLs). In fact, native/non-native speaker integration is considered

essential for supporting the academic, linguistic and sociocultural goals of
TWI programmes (Lindholm-Leary, 2005). Specifically, it is posited that by
having integrated groups of students learning together through two lan-
guages, all students will have opportunities to be leaders (during native
language instruction) and followers (during second language instruction), and
students will experience positive academic, linguistic and cross-cultural
outcomes as a result of working together on an ongoing basis (Lindholm-
Leary, 2001).
The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the issue of student
integration in TWI programmes, with a particular emphasis on language and
literacy development in two languages. While the benefits of student
integration have largely been taken for granted, our own research and

technical assistance work have led us to believe that the successful outcomes

of integration in TWI programmes are by no means guaranteed, and that the
subject warrants closer examination in order to avoid inequities in instruc-
tional practices and programme outcomes. After a brief review of the policy

context surrounding language minority student integration in US schools, we
consider the rationale in support of student integration in TWI with a specific

focus on bilingualism and biliteracy development. Next, we discuss research
evidence that demonstrates why many general assumptions about the
integrated classroom cannot necessarily be assumed in the bilingual context
of TWI classrooms. We conclude our paper with implications for research and
Integration and Language Minority Students
The dilemma of difference has characterised many educational debates in

the USA as well as other immigrant nations (de Jong, 1996a). Schools have
traditionally tried to determine whether the stigma and unequal treatment
encountered by minority groups [are] better remedied by separation or by
integration of such groups with others (Minow, 1985: 157). While nations have

implemented a wide range of programme models, the twin values of

assimilation (with a focus on learning the national language) and pluralism

(that views multilingualism as a desired outcome of schooling) continue to

dominate the debates (Baker, 2006; Schmidt, 2000).

The issue of segregation and integration is central in the history of US

schooling. The negative consequences of educational segregation reached

public awareness in the USA when the Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of
Education (1954) declared in the field of public education the doctrine of

separate but equal has no place. Separate educational facilities are

inherently unequal (cited in Fellman, 1976: 138139). The assumption that
segregation will have a negative impact on students has not only guided

Black/White integration efforts but has also inspired the inclusion movement
for special needs students and continues to play a role today in the schooling
of all minority groups, including language minority students (Minow, 2004;
Valverde, 2004).
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Integration in Two-way Immersion Education 3

While the early history of the American Republic shows many examples of
bilingual education and other ways that new migrants to the USA were
integrated into their new environment (Crawford, 1999; Kloss, 1998), the needs
of immigrant children in schools were initially largely ignored or minimally
addressed through short-term special classes (Baron, 1990; Castellanos, 1985).
This trend was reversed during the 1960s and 1970s due to new immigration
and the landmark court case Lau v. Nichols (1974). In Lau the Supreme Court
sided with the plaintiffs representing about 1800 Chinese students and argued
that, there is no equality of treatment merely by providing students with the
same facilities, textbooks, teachers, and curriculum; for students who do not
understand English are effectively foreclosed from any meaningful education
(Teitelbaum & Hiller, 1977). The Lau decision, and the Equal Educational
Opportunity Act (1974) that it inspired, required school districts to take

affirmative steps to address the needs of students with limited English

proficiency. The decision, the Lau Remedies developed in response by the
Office of Civil Rights, additional federal legislation (Title VII of the Elementary
and Secondary Education Act, the Bilingual Education Act, 19682000)

sparked the implementation of a wide variety of programmes for language
minority students, including various bilingual education models (Brisk, 2006;

Crawford, 1999).
Integral in the debate on bilingual education was a deep concern with the
negative impact of minority student segregation in the 1970s. Judicial and
legislative actions encouraged the inclusion of native English speakers in
bilingual programmes in order to avoid segregation. In Serna v. Portales (1972)
and United States v. Texas (1971), the courts ordered integrated bilingual/
bicultural programmes to remedy discriminatory practices towards ELLs
(Rebell & Murdaugh, 1992). Early reauthorisations of Title VII of the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (the Bilingual Education Act)
allowed for the enrolment of native English speakers (Bangura & Muo, 2001;

Lyons, 1990). A 19721973 manual of the Office of Civil Rights characterised

an approved programme as one where provision is made for increasing the
instructional use of both languages for both groups in the same classroom
(cited in Gaarder, 1976: 157). Bilingual education proponents worried about

the danger of bilingual tracking that would isolate these programmes from
vital resources, services, and life experiences essential to childrens ultimate

survival in a competitive society (Melendez, 1981; cited in Castellanos, 1985:


Despite the expressed need for an integrated approach to the schooling of

ELLs, the programme options that were developed throughout the 1970s and

1980s rarely included native English speakers. Instead, the issue of the
segregation of ELLs was resolved by stressing the importance of transitioning

ELLs quickly from their specialised programme into the mainstream class-
room. This policy lowered the status of bilingual programmes to a temporary
waiting room until students were ready to join the real classroom. As

separate programmes, bilingual programmes are often marginalised, due to

inadequate materials and resources necessary to meet high standards (Faltis,
1994) as well as to a negative school climate failing to embrace the bilingual
children enrolled in the programme (Brisk, 2006; Carter & Chatfield, 1986; de
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4 The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

Jong, 1995, 1996). When there is little movement between the ESL and the
mainstream classroom, ELLs often find themselves in bilingual or ESL
ghettos (Olsen, 1997; Valdes, 2001).
The other option, placing language minority students in mainstream
classrooms immediately upon entry, has likewise resulted in marginalisation.
A large-scale study by Thomas and Collier (2002) showed that language
minority students whose parents waived services and requested direct
placement in the English-only mainstream performed significantly below
language minority students in either bilingual or ESL programmes on
standardised achievement tests. Studies have also consistently documented
inappropriate differentiation such as tracking and unwarranted special
education placement (Artiles & Ortiz, 2002; Cummins, 1984; Lucas & Wagner,
1999), the neglect of bilingual students needs in the context of the mainstream

classroom (Harklau, 1999; Harper & Platt, 1998; Schinke-Llano, 1983; Valdes,

2001; Verplaetse, 2000), as well as inequitable treatment in these settings (Biggs
& Edwards, 1991; Cazden, 1990; Losey, 1995). These responses to linguistic
diversity in the mainstream classroom have led to unequal access to

instruction and a lowering of expectations for language minority students.
The dichotomous and obviously unsatisfactory choice between either

segregation or mainstreaming highlights the contradiction that has guided
educational policies towards the schooling of ELLs. Educators and policy
makers must search for a more dynamic approach that does not sacrifice the
needs of one group to those of another (Minow, 1985). One way to meet this
challenge for ELLs is an approach that includes both language minority
students and native English speakers, that takes the strengths and learning
challenges of both groups into consideration, and that strives to promote
positive multicultural environments and attitudes at least, and bilingualism
and biliteracy as well when possible.

One Solution: Two-way Immersion Programmes

Designed to address issues of equity within an integrated approach, all TWI
programmes share three essential features, although varying programme

models exist (see Howard, 2002; Lindholm-Leary, 2001 for descriptions). First,
unlike most other bilingual programmes, TWI programmes are considered

enrichment programmes rather than remedial, compensatory programmes.

They provide an additive bilingual environment in which students add a

second language to their native language instead of replacing their native

language with the second language. Second, TWI programmes enrol approxi-

mately equal numbers of native speakers of English and of the minority

language, and integrate these two groups of students for most or all of the day.

Third, all students receive both content area instruction and literacy instruc-
tion through both languages.
The first TWI programme in the USA was established at Coral Way

Elementary School in Miami, Florida in 1963 in response to the large influx of

Cuban refugees. The success story of Coral Way inspired the implementation
of other TWI programmes in several other schools in Florida, California and
Washington, D.C. According to a national database maintained by the Center
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Integration in Two-way Immersion Education 5

for Applied Linguistics, there are currently over 300 TWI programmes in the
USA, most of them SpanishEnglish programmes at the elementary level
(Center for Applied Linguistics, http://www.cal.org/twi/directory).
The theoretical base for TWI draws from two main bodies of research, those
relating to foreign language immersion education for native English speakers
(particularly French immersion programmes in Canada) and bilingual educa-
tion programmes for language minority students in the USA, and has been
discussed extensively elsewhere (e.g. Christian, 1996; Cloud et al., 2000;
Lindholm-Leary, 2001, 2005; Valdes, 1997). Studies have consistently shown
that TWI students generally perform better than or equal to similar peers in
non-TWI programmes on academic achievement measures (for reviews see
Howard, 2003; Krashen, 2004), though it has been noted that language
minority students tend to perform below their fluent English peers within

TWI programmes, even when controlling for students free/reduced lunch

status (Howard, 2003; Lindholm & Fairchild, 1988; Lindholm-Leary, 2001;
Pagan, 2003).
What sets TWI programmes apart from foreign language immersion

programmes (designed for native speakers of the majority language) and
bilingual programmes (designed for native speakers of minority languages)

is the integration of language minority and language majority speakers for all
or most of the instructional time. Student integration is central to TWI
programmes for sociocultural and linguistic reasons. Student integration
contributes to the development of positive intergroup relationships between
language minority students and language majority students. It can break
down stereotypes and develop positive attitudes towards both languages and
language groups (Howard, 2003; Lambert & Cazabon, 1994; Lindholm, 1994;
Lindholm-Leary & Borsato, 2001). The second rationale concerns the linguistic
benefits of integrating students from different native language backgrounds.
Given the centrality of the outcomes of proficiency in two languages in TWI

programmes and its relationship to academic achievement in those languages,

the rest of the paper will focus on this rationale.
The expected linguistic benefits of the integration of native speakers of two
languages in TWI programmes are based on the expanded second language

learning opportunities for both native language groups that such settings offer.
Briefly, the integration of native and non-native speakers promotes authentic,

meaningful interaction among speakers of the two languages (Genesee, 1999:

37), a proven advantage in second language learning. As second language

learners collaborate with native speakers, they have a real reason to use the
language for social and academic communicative purposes (Fillmore, 1991).

Students opportunities for language practice are thus extended in ways that
are often difficult to achieve in a setting with only second language learners.

Second, because all of the students in TWI programmes are native speakers of
one of the two second languages being promoted, native language models are
available in the classroom for both groups of second language learners

(Genesee, 1999: 37). Interaction with native speakers of the language of

instruction may avoid the development of fossilised errors in the second
language, or a premature language plateau, an effect which has been
observed in the Canadian immersion programmes (Genesee, 1987) and has
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6 The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

also been suggested as an inherent limitation of ESL/bilingual classrooms

where such native language models are absent (Fillmore, 1992; Snow, 1990). A
more capable peer or adult (i.e. the native speaker as the expert in the
language) can provide a second language learner (the novice) the necessary
modelling and practice in how language is used to perform a variety of tasks
and can therefore stretch a students engagement with the language within
their zone of proximal development (e.g. Christian, 1996; Johnson, 2004;
Lantolf, 2000; Peregoy & Boyle, 1999). Through the negotiation of meaning
around specific content and language tasks, second language learners have
increased access to comprehensible language input (Long & Porter, 1985; Pica,
1994; Pica et al., 1996) and more opportunities to stretch their language
production in order to communicate their intent (Swain, 1995; Swain et al.,

While the general research base on native/non-native speaker interaction

and the importance of cooperative group work for language development is
quite extensive (e.g. Boulima, 1998; McGroarty, 1989), few studies have
specifically addressed the dynamics of native/non-native speaker interaction

in TWI classrooms. The TWI studies that do appear confirm that the
scaffolding role of native speakers for their second language learning peers

occurs in providing translation of individual words (Pierce, 2000), in
explaining syntax and word usage (Panfil, 1995; cited in Howard, 2003) as
well as in offering multiple opportunities for scaffolding during literacy events
(Rubinstein-Avila, 2003). D
Integrated TWI classrooms are therefore optimally suited to provide the
ideal context for second language development. Enriched by the linguistic
varieties that their peers bring to school (including AfricanAmerican English
Vernacular and a number of varieties of US Spanish), second language learners
in TWI programmes have extended access to the second language across a
range of language functions. This learning context stands in contrast to the

central role the teacher necessarily plays as the main source of language input
in the case of foreign language immersion programmes (Cummins & Swain,
1986; Genesee, 1987) and/or developmental (one-way) bilingual/ESL pro-
grammes (Fillmore, 1982).

A Critical Look at Student Integration in TWI


The central role attributed to native/non-native speaker integration in TWI


classrooms warrants closer examination. In particular, we question the implicit

assertion that the linguistic benefits of student integration will extend equally

and naturally to both languages and both language groups, especially when
the groups involved come from distinct ethnic backgrounds. The sections that

follow draw on empirical work by other researchers in TWI classrooms as well

as data collected by the second author as part of a larger study of Two-Way
Immersion Education involving the Center for Applied Linguistics and the

Center for Research on Education, Diversity, & Excellence (www.cal.org/twi/

crede). This study (referred to herein as the CAL/CREDE study) was a
longitudinal study focusing on TWI students language and literacy develop-
ment and academic achievement in the upper elementary grades. In addition
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Integration in Two-way Immersion Education 7

to student outcome data (reported in Howard, 2004), researchers collected

classroom observation data and conducted teacher interviews and focus
groups at four schools identified as being highly effective by the end of the
study (Howard, 2007).

Learning opportunities in the language of instruction

According to the TWI literature, students from both majority and minority
language backgrounds will have opportunities to engage in meaningful
interactions with peers and the teacher in both languages. TWI classrooms
are said to provide equal access to learning opportunities in both languages
and equal use of both languages by students and teachers. Both assumptions
(opportunity and use), while desirable, are greatly undermined as TWI

programmes confront the sociopolitical context of ELL schooling and
differences in acquisition contexts.

Status asymmetry and learning opportunities
Though language status equalisation is an intended outcome of good TWI

programmes, research has shown that this goal is extraordinarily difficult to
achieve, given an English-dominant sociopolitical context. Even when

programmes make conscious efforts to counter the status differences between
the two languages (e.g. Freeman, 1998; Howard, 2003; Smith & Arnot-Hopffer,
1998), the sociopolitical realities interfere with these intentions. The asymme-
try between the minority language and English is reflected in resource
allocation, in accountability systems, in teacher requirements, and in overall
language use patterns by students and teachers (Amrein & Pena, 2000;
Freeman, 1998; Hadi-Tabassum, 2006; Oller & Eilers, 2002).
In many TWI programmes, assessment occurs in English but not as
consistently or comprehensively in the minority language. Support resources
(e.g. Title I, reading recovery, volunteer tutors, special education services) are

often only available in English, particularly when the programme functions as

a strand within a mainstream school. TWI teachers at a well established
programme interviewed for the CAL/CREDE study commented that skill-
based grouping for reading was possible in English but not in Spanish due to

lack of assessment tools and resource teachers, such as Title I and Reading
Recovery teachers.

They [the students] take so many tests to see what their reading level in
English is and based on that, theyre grouped by ability. . . . But in

Spanish, we dont have the results of any test that shows us where the
kids are . . . We dont have someone who will come in and take this

group of kids based on their level. Basically, you just have the classroom

Codeswitching occurs during minority language instruction (to English) but

the reverse rarely happens during English instruction, partially because the

English teacher is not required to be bilingual. Moreover, whereas Spanish

language teachers are expected to have a bilingual or second language
certification, the same requirement (and hence skill to teach second language
learners) is not always made of English language teachers. In the CAL/
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8 The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

CREDE study, a survey of the teachers in the 11 participating programmes

found that only 38% of English-only teachers had a bilingual or ESL
certification, as compared to 76% of the bilingual or Spanish-only teachers.
As these asymmetrical patterns privilege English, exposure to and interactions
in the minority language both inside and outside the classroom are reduced.
The resulting unequal learning opportunities in the two languages compro-
mise opportunities to achieve the goals of bilingualism and biliteracy in TWI.

Acquisition contexts and access to quality minority language

The benefits of integration for native language development must also be
reconsidered in light of the two language acquisition contexts in TWI
programmes. As Valdes (1997) points out, TWI programmes have the

challenge of meeting a dual agenda: foreign language learning for native

English speakers and second language development for its minority language
population. While there are many pedagogical similarities between (elemen-
tary) foreign and second language teaching, the social and political context

differs significantly. English has a high status in American society and is much
more pervasive both inside and outside the school environment than the

minority language. One linguistic consequence of this reality is that minority
students oral second language proficiency (in English) develops more quickly
than that of majority students (in the minority language) (Edelsky &
Hudelson, 1978; Montague & Meza-Zaragosa, 1999). Minority language
speakers make an early shift to English dominance, while native English
speakers in TWI programmes continue to be clearly dominant in English
(Howard et al., 2004). Howard (1997) found that by the fourth or fifth grade,
only 50% of the native English speakers in a 50/50 TWI programme had been
rated as orally fluent in the minority language.
As a result of the differentiated growth patterns in second language

proficiency, teachers of the minority language are much more likely to have
a wide range of oral proficiency and literacy levels across grade levels, from a
beginning speaker to a fluent native speaker. In English, on the other hand, the
gap between native speakers and second language is much smaller and is

closed more quickly both orally and in basic literacy skills (de Jong, 2004).
Negotiating these different proficiency levels is a challenging task. Teachers at

one school in the CAL/CREDE study observed,

What is novel to native English speakers acquiring Spanish is not a

learning experience for native Spanish speakers. Spanish classrooms

focus on the basics as opposed to English classes focusing on more

complex tasks. Theres a disparity.


The early TWI programmes responded to this challenge by instructional

separation. The first TWI school in the USA, Coral Way Elementary in Miami,
Florida, for instance, separated CubanSpanish speakers and Anglo-English

speakers for instruction in English and Spanish until the third grade for all
academic subjects but not for specials. From the fourth grade and up, students
were integrated for all subjects (Mackey & Beebe, 1977). The current trend in
TWI is to keep native speakers and second language learners together, which
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Integration in Two-way Immersion Education 9

poses a unique challenge, particularly when the minority language is the

language of instruction.
The CAL/CREDE study and classroom-based research in TWI programmes
illustrate that the challenge of mediating students proficiency levels,
participation and content teaching is not easily met, particularly when
instruction is through the minority language. It is unavoidable that TWI
teachers must make modifications to stretch instruction in order to include all
learners. Interestingly, this is true in contexts outside of the USA as well. In a
study of an English/Gaelic TWI programme in Ireland, Hickey (2001: 444)
observes, While providing an opportunity for [foreign language] learners to
interact with native-speaker peers, it provides a challenge to educators to
support and enrich the [native language] language skills of the native speakers
in a situation of language contact. Studies have shown that the linguistic

modifications necessary to provide a meaningful immersion experience may

lead to differences in curriculum expectations, limited opportunities for
extended language use, and less exposure to rich and complex language
when the language of instruction is the minority language.

Comparing kindergarten routines in a SpanishEnglish TWI programme,
Freeman (1998) noted that instruction in Spanish focused on listening

comprehension, whereas English instruction showed an emphasis on skill
acquisition as the native Spanish speakers already had some English
proficiency. Unfortunately, such differences can lead to watered down
instruction in Spanish as compared to English. As one teacher in the CAL/
CREDE study commented,
When you have an integrated group and you are doing content, if it is in
English, the native Spanish speakers have the oral skills to participate.
But when you are in Spanish and you are doing a content science lesson
with Spanish and English speakers, you have to water down, because
the English speakers dont have the Spanish language.

The use of non-verbal responses was encouraged by a third-grade teacher who

used Total Physical Response (TPR) to scaffold her second language learners
for a story retelling (Takahashi-Breines, 2002). Similar results were found in the

Irish immersion programme cited earlier, where teachers also emphasised

comprehension skills over production skills to accommodate the L2 learners.

In fact, they stated explicitly that it was fairer to treat all the children the same
rather than separating them out (Hickey, 2001: 466). While certain activities

and curriculum sequencing may be appropriate for beginning second

language learners, it provides native speakers with fewer opportunities to

use their oral language skills for grade-level appropriate content learning and
literacy development.

Besides curriculum and opportunities for students language use, the

teachers own language use may be accommodated to such an extent that
the overall input to the class will fail to stretch the linguistic or cognitive

capabilities of the native speakers of the minority language. Lindholm-Leary

(2001) found empirical evidence for this assertion when she examined teacher
talk in a third and a fourth grade TWI classroom. She found that instruction in
the minority language, Spanish, was characterised by simple verb forms
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10 The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

(present tense) and simple utterance complexity (12 words or short

sentences). In another study, involving 11 K-5 TWI teachers, she also found
that, of all the questions asked, 63% were lower-order questions. This outcome
may be partially related to the presence of lower proficient students who are
typically asked short answer recall or comprehension questions (Howard,
2003). A TWI teacher in the CAL/CREDE study confirms,
You kind of limit your vocabulary (in Spanish) because most kids dont
understand what you are saying if you use more advanced vocabulary.
So theyre not exposed to new words or new complex sentences or
anything like that because were limiting always what we speak.
Other studies have also indicated impoverished teacher input, teacher

student interaction, questioning and lesson pacing as a result of accommodat-
ing for the presence of (beginning) second language learners in TWI

classrooms (Delgado-Larocco, 1998, cited in Howard, 2003; Montague &
Meza-Zaragosa, 1999; Takahashi-Breines, 2002).

One is left wondering how native speakers are appropriately challenged in
their social and academic language use during these lessons where repetition

and short-answer questions dominate. While matching teacher talk and
instructional activities to the proficiency level of the second language learner
is important, such modifications must be analysed regarding their impact on
the language and literacy needs of native minority language speakers. The
studies validate the concern expressed by Valdes (1997) that, without
intervention, accommodations for second learners in the integrated classroom
may indeed aversely affect access to quality minority language instruction for
minority language speakers when there is a wide gap between fluent minority
language speakers and second language learners of the minority language.
Given that the development of high levels of language and literacy ability in
their native language is an important foundation for high levels of language

and literacy attainment in English, as well as academic achievement in the

content areas, these modifications in favour of the foreign language learners
may have far-reaching consequences for the language minority students.

Access to native language models


Perhaps the most important motivation for integration is that second


language learners have access to peers as native language models, in addition

to the teacher. In TWI programmes, there is always a native speaker of each
language to serve as a good language model. Therefore, there should be more

opportunities for students to produce longer and more complex utterances in

their second language (Lindholm-Leary, 2001: 139). While research on group

work in native language and second language classrooms confirms that

students often use more complex and more extensive language when engaged

in cooperative learning (Jacob et al., 1996; Kagan, 1986; Kessler, 1992;

McGroarty, 1989), these benefits may be limited when the language of
communication is the minority language due to students language choice
patterns and the diverse student population of TWI programmes.
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Integration in Two-way Immersion Education 11

Native minority language role models in peer interaction

The literature on comprehensible input and peer interaction assumes the
presence of a monolingual native language speaker interacting with a
(bilingual) second language learner. As the two speakers do not share a
language other than the target language (generally English), negotiation of
meaning must occur in that language at all times. However, the reverse is
typically the case during minority language instruction in TWI programmes
(particularly in the primary grades), as the native speakers are frequently
bilinguals, and the second language learners are generally monolinguals at
time of entry into the programme. Under these conditions, the assumed
monolingual status of the native speaker and the bilingual status of the second
language learner do not typically hold true.

Without a great deal of teacher scaffolding, native English speakers often do
not have the oral proficiency to carry out their academic tasks exclusively in

and through the minority language, especially in the first year or two of the
programme. Language minority students, on the other hand, generally enter

the programme with varying levels of proficiency in both programme
languages. As a result, when working together on academic tasks or for social

interactions, students will select the language of most efficient communication,
i.e. English. As soon as the use of the minority language is no longer required,
the tendency therefore is to switch to English. These asymmetrical patterns of
English use among students have been confirmed in a number of studies in
TWI classrooms (Carrigo, 2000; Christian, 1996; Christian et al., 1997; Gayman,
2000; Hausman-Kelly, 2001; Pierce, 2000; Potowski, 2007). Importantly, the
choice of English in these contexts is not only related to language proficiency.
Potowski (2004) argues that these linguistic choices are also bids for status in
the classroom as English is still perceived as the language of power or
belonging (Hadi-Tabassum, 2006; McCollum, 1999).
The switch to English, while natural, limits opportunities for native English

speakers to use the minority language in a wider range of language functions

across settings with peers and with the teacher and thus may hinder their
foreign language development (Carrigo, 2000; Edelsky & Hudelson, 1982;

Griego-Jones, 1994; Howard, 1997). It also restricts language minority students

in their roles as native language models during group work. Furthermore,

minority language speakers do not have equal opportunities to use their native
language for rich, academic use as suggested by the literature on the

advantages of group work. Howard (1999), for instance, found that, while
conversation among students during Spanish writing was limited to single
word translations and mechanics, discussions in English were frequently rich

and focused on the writing content. In a first-grade TWI classroom, Anglo

students were not able to engage in exploratory dialogue about the math

content with their bilingual peers due to their limited productive skills
(Angelova et al., 2006). Finally, constant interruptions by the native English

speakers may undermine the native Spanish speakers flow of thinking and
hence the quality of work they were able to accomplish in their native
language (Pierce, 2000). One teacher in the CAL/CREDE study commented
that [cross-language] partners can be a problem, because some children are
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12 The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

more needy, wanting everything translated, which can wear their partners
Although the expectation is that native speakers of the minority language
function as language models during peer interaction, the bilingual context and
differential acquisition patterns between the two groups of students can
undermine this goal. This may limit minority students opportunities to use
their native language to negotiate cognitively complex tasks. Given the
importance of strong native literacy development for subsequent academic
achievement in the second language for language minority students (Cum-
mins, 2000; Thomas & Collier, 2002), these patterns must be examined critically
for long-term effects of language minority students achievement in TWI

Opportunities to be a native language model

The integrated classroom intends to equalise student and language status
by positioning all students as second language learners and student groupings
are typically based on native speaker status, i.e. teachers will partner a native

and a non-native speaker for instruction. Both the notion of native speaker
and students ability to take on the role of expert are problematic due to the

complexity of the TWI student population.
Integrating native and non-native speakers for second language learning
assumes that teachers can classify students according to native speaker status.
The concept of native speaker itself has been problematised by many scholars
(e.g. Cook, 1999; Davies, 2003; Kachru, 1994). Bilinguals cannot be considered
two monolinguals in one and will display language behaviours that will defy
monolingual norms and expectations (Grosjean, 1989). Furthermore, native
speaker is generally construed on an ideal standard language variety speaker.
Non-standard varieties are rarely acknowledged as native speaker models
(e.g. Lippi-Green, 1997; Valdes, 2004). Finally, native speaker status can shift

over the course of a students participation in a TWI programme (Fitts, 2006).

The assumption of native speaker access also becomes problematic when
considering the actual student population of TWI programmes. While most
native English speakers begin TWI programmes with little to no prior

exposure to the minority language, some have had and continue to have
exposure through daycare providers, travel opportunities and supports

provided at home, such as audio/video materials, books, etc. In terms of

their native language, native English speakers are also heterogeneous. Many

TWI programmes enrol students who speak non-standard English varieties at

home, including AfricanAmerican Vernacular or Chicano English. The

situation for native speakers of minority languages is even more diffuse, as

many of these students are US-born and therefore enter schools with varying

levels of proficiency in both the minority language and English, including non-
standard varieties (Freeman et al., 2005; Zentella, 1997). Over time, these
continua of proficiencies in the two languages become even more spread out,

as all students receive instruction through both languages, and literacy

development and academic language begin to develop along with general
oral language proficiency. The concept of native speaker and reliance on this
label for instructional practices must be carefully considered within the
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Integration in Two-way Immersion Education 13

specific context of the students in the programme (Freeman, 2000; Valdes,

The TWI integration literature also assumes that majority and minority
speakers will carry out the role of language expert equally and are able to do
so not only for social interactions but also for academic content learning. While
research is limited, it appears that these roles are not necessarily distributed
evenly between minority language and majority language speakers and will
intersect with issues of race, class and gender. For instance, when language
minority students come from a lower socioeconomic background and
language majority students from a higher socioeconomic background, the
opportunities for the language minority students to function as native
language role models during content instruction will be mediated by the

extent to which teachers assume that students have had opportunities to
master the register of school language (Schleppegrell, 2004) as well as

students prior exposure to academic content through school-related family
experiences such as travel, museums, the Internet and informal reading. While

language minority students may be able to scaffold social interactional
language for their English-speaking peers, it may be more challenging for

them to carry out this role in academic areas without appropriate scaffolding.
One TWI teacher, for instance, noted that a gap in school-related language for
a native Spanish speaker prevented the student from being the expected role
model for a native English speaker.
Selena the other day was telling me, well, I know how to say it but I
dont know how to say this word in Spanish and she told me the word
in English. She was working with Beth, who has only English. Some-
times I feel like Im teaching both of them and sometimes I feel like Gee
I wish that Selena, the Hispanic kid, wont need much of my help. I
wished that she would be the only one that could help the English

speaker. (de Jong, 1996b: 153)

In other words, all TWI students are expected to be a language model in social
and academic contexts. The way the classroom culture responds to cultural

background knowledge, as well as variation in language and literacy practices

at home and in the community, may affect, however, the extent to which

students are enabled to carry out these native language model roles. Without
changes to classroom practice, teachers may negatively position students who

have been enculturated into language and literacy practices that are less
aligned with the register of school and whose prior experiences may not

parallel those assumed by the teacher or the curriculum. Given that language
minority students in TWI programmes are less likely than language majority

students to come from middle class homes, their opportunities to scaffold

academic as well as social language for their majority language peers can thus

be further limited if teachers and programmes do not respond to socio-

economic and educational background differences.
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14 The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

Reconsidering Integration in TWI Classrooms

TWI programmes represent a drastic departure from the remedial,
subtractive and segregationist approach that has characterised the schooling
of language minority students for decades. Our purpose in the preceding
analysis has not been to minimise this potential or the documented success
that these programmes have demonstrated. Rather, we hope that our
discussion will serve to highlight some of the pedagogical challenges that
can arise in integrated settings and to prompt critical reflection on the
linguistic benefits of integration in order to ensure that the potential of TWI
programmes is realised in ways that will ultimately benefit both language
minority and language minority students equally.
As the preceding discussion has outlined, a growing body of evidence

suggests that the benefits of native/non-native speaker integration must be
considered in relationship to its impact on bilingual development, particularly

regarding access to and development of the minority language as a first and
foreign language. Equal learning opportunities and access to native language

models are not automatically equally distributed in TWI programmes across
the two languages and the speakers of those languages. As a result, the

potential linguistic benefits of native/non-native speaker integration often do
not materialise in integrated TWI classrooms, particularly during instruction
in the minority language at the lower grade levels. Clearly, more classroom-
based, ethnographic research is needed to untangle the complex process of
integration with diverse populations in the context of the development of
Without conscious attention to those issues that arise as a result of native
and non-native speaker student integration, the foreign language needs of
native English speakers and the bilingual needs of minority language speakers
can easily become duelling rather than mutually reinforcing agendas. As our

discussion has shown, when this happens, it is the language minority student
who will lose out, linguistically and academically. We agree with Valdess
(1997) assertion that educators in TWI programmes need to make a concerted
effort to provide high-quality instruction in the minority language in order to

create equity and reduce the achievement gap between native English
speakers and language minority students within the programmes.

These concerns do not imply that integration cannot and should not occur
in TWI classrooms or that linguistic benefits cannot emerge through native

non-native speaker integration. Howard (2007), for example, describe four

successful TWI (SpanishEnglish) programmes and how administrators and
teachers successfully negotiated the challenges of language and student status

equalisation between English and Spanish outside and inside the integrated
classroom. First of all, TWI programme and school personnel must raise their

own awareness of language status issues that are the result of historical,
political and social societal patterns and trends (Shannon, 1995). Conscious

attempts at increasing access to and promoting the value of the minority

language inside and outside the classroom must be made to ensure the active
use of the minority language. Programmatically, the programme can immerse
all students in the minority language in the lower grades as part of the
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Integration in Two-way Immersion Education 15

programmes design (e.g. the 90/10 model) (Lindholm-Leary, 2001). Schools

can participate in pre-school programmes focusing on the minority language,
after-school enrichment programmes in the minority language (Smith &
Arnot-Hopffer, 1998) or create support services or summer school options in
Spanish as a Second Language to accelerate oral fluency for native English
The potential lack of the rich use of the minority language during peer
interaction in integrated classrooms suggests that one of the main opportu-
nities for minority students to engage in age-appropriate social and academic
language depends largely on the quality of their interaction with the teacher or
might need to be created through homogeneous groups based on minority
language proficiency. Within the classroom, teachers of the minority language

must therefore ensure that minority language speakers have extended
opportunities to engage in challenging, rich language and literacy activities

in their native language by using flexible cooperative learning groupings that
include groups based on native and/or second language proficiency. For

instance, teachers in one TWI programme separated their first and second
language speakers for two hours a week for Spanish language arts when they

recognised that the native English speakers needed formal grammar instruc-
tion in Spanish while the Spanish speakers needed to build advanced
vocabulary and literacy skills. The native English speakers received Spanish
as a Second Language instruction with a focus on grammar in context and the
native Spanish speakers worked with challenging literature in Spanish (de
Jong, 2002). Note that in this case, grouping by language group is for
enrichment and not for remedial purposes, thus avoiding the establishment
of a lower track for minority students. Groupings by language proficiency
can also benefit the second language learners (Anton & Dicamilla, 1999;
Fillmore, 1982; Varonis & Gass, 1984).

Teachers who provide instruction in the minority language must also pay
close attention to the language use patterns among students and provide
adequate scaffolding that enables students to understand as well as use the
language of instruction. To facilitate communication in the minority language,

they must provide the second language learners in the group with the social
and academic language structures necessary to complete the academic task at

hand, for example, through the use of language frames and sentence starters
(Potowski, 2004; Tarone & Swain, 1995). This would require teacher modelling

of target language structures related to the academic task (e.g. if/then

constructions for a science experiment), student access to language resources

such as word walls, dictionaries and the teaching of functional language

chunks (such as, its my turn, please hand me the paper) (Punchard, 2002;

Stein, 1999). Teachers must also be aware of when they must support their
native language speakers for the academic language expert role that they are

expected to fulfil. This includes structuring classroom tasks to exploit multiple

linguistic and cultural resources (Cohen et al., 1995, 1999).
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16 The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

In an era where many culturally and linguistically diverse students, and
particularly English language learners, find themselves more segregated in
predominantly minority schools (Iceland, 2004; Orfield, 2001), TWI pro-
grammes provide a crucial example and successful model of integrated
schooling for all students. Research on TWI programmes has consistently
shown the positive social and academic achievement outcomes for all TWI
students. While the linguistic outcomes of these programmes for minority and
majority language speakers have also been confirmed, our paper has
illustrated that the specific benefits of native/non-native speaker integration
cannot be assumed or taken for granted. The potential for even more
impressive programme outcomes exists if more attention is given to the

integrated nature of these programmes, and in particular, the ways in which
integration can both enrich and constrain effective instruction for native

speakers and second language learners. In particular, we have argued that
overlooking the complex bilingual realities in TWI programmes may lead to

instructional practices and programmatic decision-making that may not
equally benefit minority and majority language speakers and hence may fail

to develop equally high levels of bilingualism and biliteracy for all students in
the programme. This, in turn, can also negatively affect academic achievement
outcomes in both languages, particularly for minority language speakers.
Differences between the foreign language and the second language/bilingual
agenda as well as status differences between the two languages must be
acknowledged and dealt with appropriately. If TWI educators are committed
to high levels of bilingualism and biliteracy development for all students, they
must ensure that the learning opportunities to develop both languages will be
effective for both minority and majority students in the integrated classroom.

Any correspondence should be directed to Dr Ester de Jong, 2411 Norman

Hall, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA (edejong@coe.ufl.edu).


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