Sunday, January 21, 2018

A source of confusion: the terms “immersion” and “dual language”

Submitted to Language Magazine, January 21, 2018

I have a suggestion that might improve communication among language educators as well as communication between language educators and the public.   

For language education professionals, the term “immersion” usually means subject-matter instruction through a second language, with efforts made to make sure the language used is comprehensible to students. For the public, however, “immersion” generally means “submersion,” surrounding yourself with the target language, whether comprehensible or not. I suggest we simply stop using the term “immersion.”

“Dual language” is used in two ways: It could mean “bilingual education” in general or it could mean a specific program known as “two-way” bilingual education.  I suggest we avoid confusion by dropping the term “dual language” and using either “bilingual education” or “two-way bilingual education.”

And please, let’s avoid creative but even more confusing terminology such as  “dual immersion” and “bilingual immersion.”

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus

University of Southern California

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